Construction: public infrastructure

Back to school

11 April 2013

BCIS and RICS Oceania have secured an Australian government contract on school infrastructure building costs that will inform policy on public infrastructure projects. Robert Dent reports

The RICS Building Cost Information Service (BCIS) and RICS Oceania, in partnership with the University of New South Wales (UNSW), has been awarded a contract to host, maintain and develop a web-based construction benchmarking system on behalf of the Australian Government’s Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations.

The contract will see BCIS and UNSW develop comparative data on the cost of building school infrastructure, using an existing Australian government database as its foundation. The purpose of the project is for BCIS and UNSW, working with government and industry in Australia, to inform public policy on whole life public infrastructure costs. The broader objectives of the project include contributing to benchmarking and value for money improvements for construction investment across all sectors of the industry.

A robust database of building costs has the potential to significantly improve the cost efficiency of the construction industry and drive economic and social benefits for the Australian community

BCIS will develop benchmarking functionality including coverage of project costs, building efficiencies, functional unit pricing, average prices, cross-locational building cost indices and forecasts, maintenance and operating costs, and construction duration modelling.

Roger Hogg has been appointed to drive the development of this Building Value Cost Analysis Model and the data population on behalf of BCIS in Australia via the RICS Sydney office. Roger is a Chartered Quantity Surveyor who until recently was Head of Global Research for Rider Levett Bucknall.

A school project

BCIS will provide technical expertise as part of school infrastructure construction development activities. Other features of the project include:

  • it will ensure complete confidentiality of the source data
  • initial collection of the data will be managed and effected using project resources at zero cost to the data provider
  • standardised data definitions and recording methods for cost, time and quality factors will be developed in concert with the stakeholders and promoted for use across a range of social infrastructure projects at a national level
  • stakeholders will be advised on and trained in the effective use of the database and its methodologies
  • innovative database technologies will provide for more extensive data to be collected. This will significantly improve the capacity to extract value (such as whole life costs) specific to a project, building type, sector and/or client, while significantly improving data analysis, monitoring and planning functionality
  • robust benchmarking across aggregated data sets will be provided to enable more effective assessment of future and overall value when committing funding for capital works
  • the project will develop and implement a consistent benchmarking approach specific to Australia, founded on actual and accurate evidence.

Robust features

Establishing a robust database of building costs, along with the above factors that will deliver value for money for the client, has the potential to significantly improve the cost efficiency of the construction industry and drive economic and social benefits for the Australian community.

The critical engagement at this stage of the project is around developing industry relationships in Australia and ensuring relevant data sets are available to the project. Relationships are being developed with construction consultants, clients, government and other industry stakeholders to support the production of value for money measures and cost benchmarking data for the Australian construction market.

Potential data will include cost, time and quality records, for historical and ongoing capital works. Further data on energy use, user satisfaction, safety, etc. will also be useful.

BCIS would value feedback from any construction clients, developers, consultants and contractors in terms of key contacts and potential data provision that would be useful for the project, or who would like further information on the services being developed in Australia.

Robert Dent is Head of Technical Services at BCIS and is leading the UK-based collaboration on the project

Further information