Cost Estimating Manual for Projects
WSDOT Cost Estimating Manual for Projects M 3034.03 Page iii
A comprehensive glossary for cost risk estimating management is posted at:
Allowance – Additional resources included in an estimate to cover the cost of known
but undefined requirements for an activity or work item. Allowance is a base cost item.
Base Cost Estimate – The term “base cost estimate” was developed by WSDOT for cost
risk analysis and represents the reviewed and/or validated project cost estimate to be
used in the quantitative risk analysis for a project. The base cost represents the cost that
can reasonably be expected if the project materializes as planned, including PE, RW, and
CN costs. The base cost estimate is unbiased and neutral—it is not optimistic and it is
not conservative. It does not include any risks, but does include the WSDOT standard
construction contingency, since that amount is based upon historical usage. Base costs
reported to program management shall be in current-year dollars (the un-inflated
estimate). Refer to the Plans Preparation Manual 800.03(2).
Baseline – The approved time-phased plan (for a project, a work breakdown structure
component, work package, or schedule activity), plus or minus approved project scope,
cost, schedule, and technical changes. Generally refers to the current baseline, but may
refer to the original or some other baseline. Usually used with a modifier (e.g., cost
baseline, schedule baseline, performance measurement baseline, technical baseline).
Baseline Preliminary Engineering (PE) – The effort (budget/cost) of taking a project
from planning through the scoping and design phases of project development. Planning
and scoping typically have separate budgets but are encompassed under Design or
Preliminary Engineering (PE). The terms “Design” or “Design Phase” are sometimes
used interchangeably with PE.
Basis of Estimate (BOE) – Documentation to enable the agency to easily track changes
to project scope, cost, and schedule. A well-documented estimate basis and
documentation of assumptions used can eliminate overlap of future estimate
assumptions. This document provides a trail about what is known about the project.
This allows project “knowns” as well as “unknowns” to be clearly identified. This
documentation is important because multiple estimators may be involved on the
project; complex projects in particular take years to develop and estimates must be
completed multiple times.
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