D4COST Frequently Asked Questions
I'm only interested in projects that were built in my location, how do I sort by location?
Projects in D4COST are buildings that were actually built. They do have a physical location, however, the location of where the building was built is irrelevant to cost estimating with the project because of the local adjusters built into the D4COST estimating system. Any building can be moved to any location in the United States simply by "re-targeting" the building to your state or locale. Actual locations can be found on the Base Date and Location section located on the Information tab of D4COST.
Where do you get your cost escalators and regional modifiers?
Cost escalators and local modifiers contained in the D4COST program are proprietary. We develop them in coordination with many national experts on the subject and then add our own observations. Cost escalators are fairly straight forward, as are local modifiers. Cost escalators follow the trends in construction cost, how it increases, or decreases (and yes sometimes construction costs recede), over previous years. Cost escalators are based at a time and place and then are built as mathematical factors taken off of the base. Partners in assisting D4COST with cost escalators include the Marr Construction Institute, Brea, CA, BNI Press, US Government indices, and various building codes organizations across the United States.
How can this be so easy?
It is easy for the user to use D4COST for preliminary estimating because years of programming and working with architects, contractors and developers have already transpired. It was not easy in the beginning. D4COST algorithms are proprietary and unique. The system is doing an enormous amount of math in the background to quickly give you results that only look easy. Be assured there's a lot of work going on in the background that you do not see.
How accurate can my estimate be?
Accuracy in preliminary cost estimating using D4COST, or any other system for that matter, is directly tied to the skills of the estimator. D4COST was design to allow unskilled estimators to come up with professionally prepared estimates with a minimal amount of work or technical know-how. Assuming that the user chooses a like model to estimate from, results can be very good. It is important to remember that you can not make unrealistic assumptions. For example, it is unrealistic to use a single-story 5,000 sq. ft. building to model a five-story 25,000 sq. ft. office building (just because it looks like the building you want to cost). The 5,000 sq. ft. model will not have elevators and many other components necessary in building a five-story structure. You are better off to model from a 30,000 sq. ft. five-story office building and adjust the square foot area down to 25,000 sq. ft. By choosing models of similar characteristics to the projected building, users frequently create preliminary cost estimates within a 10% plus or minus tolerance range, even before plans have been drawn. Experienced estimators can do even better, and D4COST users who are modeling off of their own data -- projects that they have added to the system -- do even better.
Can I use these estimates for budgeting purposes?
Absolutely. That is one of the main purposes of this system. Builders, designers, developers, insurers, financiers, and architects all need to know the cost impact of a building project before plans have been drawn. Drawing plans for a project is an expensive proposition and a project's feasibility must be carefully studied before this process is initiated. That is why this system was developed.
Where do you get your projects from?
Primarily projects are submitted to Design Cost Data magazine by architects, contractors and building professionals for publication. We also accept projects from our D4COST users for submittal into the D4COST. We encourage building professions to submit their projects to help build the nation's largest database of actual construction costs.
Where is the profit & overhead located?
Profit and Overhead is spread within the project in each division. Profit and Overhead is not broken out. Architectural and Engineering fees are not included in ANY of our data. Remember, D4COST is a preliminary estimating system designed to answer your clients "What If" questions.
How can you tell the Union projects from the Non-Union?
All of our location modifiers take into consideration the Union/Non-Union areas. Therefore, it is our philosophy that you can take any project either union or non union and by moving its location, the regional modifiers of D4COST will adjust your project accordingly.
Can I convert the data to UniFormat?
Converting the data to UniFormat is not currently available. However, the advanced features of D4COST include a built-in UniFormat template allowing users to enter their own data in this format. In addition, D4COST allows users to design their own template to fit their needs.
How long has your product been on the market?
D4COST was first released as "Designing Within The Budget" in 1990 and quickly responding to the user requests the next evolution of preliminary sq.ft. cost estimating was released as Design4/COST. We were one of the first software manufacturers to answer the problem of Y2K with the release of D4COST in 1998. D4COST is a product of its users.
Why haven't I ever heard of your company?
Design Cost Data magazine was started in 1958 with a small circulation targeting preliminary the architectural market. In the late 1980's DCD expanded its circulation and is still growing today.
How are you different from other estimating packages?
D4COST is based on actual, historical costs. Not national averages or simulations, but actual finished projects throughout the United States. We give our clients the ability to review the project and then cost model from that project. The D4COST averaging wizard is unique in all the industry.
Why don't you have General Requirements and/or Bidding Requirements in all your projects?
When projects are submitted to DCD for publications, some professionals have chosen to include the Bidding Requirements and the General Requirements in the separate CSI 16 divisions, and not break out these costs. For those projects with Bidding Requirements and Division 1, General Requirements blank, a percentage of the Building Cost should be added as a comfort level (usually 8-9%, but could be higher depending on your area).
If I change the number of floors or any of the building components will the costs automatically change?
No. You need to understand when modeling off a project you need to get as close as possible to the building components within your model. Using the advanced estimating features of D4COST Version one can actually average projects together to help compensate for the different building components.
How can D4COST possibly take into consideration major code/building changes from the past 20 years? (using the same factors on a 1980 project versus a late 1990 project when major changes have occurred)
This is where your knowledge as an estimator would come into play. Utilizing the advanced features of D4COST you can edit, add, and subtract division data to meet your specific needs.
How detailed is your data?
The detail varies. Primarily in the early stages, D4COST was marketed primarily to architects who at the time were not interested in line item detail. Beginning in the late 1990's D4COST has expanded the detail published to meet our client's needs.
What is the learning curve to use D4COST.
Most users are estimating with D4COST within minutes of installing the software. Of course, advanced estimating and power estimator skills are developed in time, but the average user can print out a reliable preliminary cost estimate within 30 minutes of first sitting down to operate the software.
Can I use D4COST to estimate projects outside the USA?
Yes, we have users who do just that. D4COST does not provide cost modifiers for foreign countries, however. As long as you can cost model using USA construction costs and have a modifier for the country you are working in, you can add your modifiers to the D4COST list of modifiers and use them. Plus, D4COST has two very powerful features for cost modeling in foreign countries, those being "convert to metric" and "a currency modifier." With just the click of a mouse you can convert from square foot cost modeling to square meter cost modeling. And, if you know today's exchange rate, you can enter it and your reports will come out at today's rate in the currency of your choice.