Clients and contractors involved in the cost comparison and cost planning process in expressing building cost should use the ‘cost per square meter rate‘ with extreme caution, advises Bert van den Heever, former president of the Association of South African Quantity Surveyors (ASAQS).
There are a number of design variables which can adversely influence square meter rates, thereby giving a false impression of the cost of a building project and this can lead to serious problems for both clients and contractors, he says. “You will not compare a Porsche to a Volkswagen on the basis of their cost per square meter, so why try and do it with buildings?”
“As a client, a generic cost per square meter rate doesn’t give you the detailed information that you need regarding finishes, fittings, services, site development costs, etc. There is a wide range of other building elements that also have an impact on costs and therefore quantity surveyors normally do elemental estimates to derive the square meter rate and cost of a project.
“An elemental estimate provides cost build-ups for elements such as the substructure, ground floor, external façade, roofs etc., and enables the quantity surveyor to advise the client on aspects of cost at a very early stage,” says Van den Heever.