At Last… an International Construction Measurement Standard

Steven Batchelor
The way construction projects are reported and costed varies from one market to the next. International Construction Measurement Standard (ICMS) will make it easier to benchmark and evaluate projects around the world.

The Standard Setting Committee of the International Construction Measurement Standards Coalition (ICMSC) is producing a global measurement standard which is currently at consultation stage, with the final version scheduled for May 2017.

This won’t replace existing measurement guidelines, eg. New Rules of Measurement (NRM) 1 and 2, Principles of Measurement International (POMI) or Civil Engineer Standard Method of Measurement (CESMM). Instead it’s a new standard for presenting and reporting construction project cost information to clients, stakeholders and funders at all project stages.

The aim is global consistency in classifying, defining, analysing and reporting construction costs at project, regional and national level. This consistency in reporting will in turn provide improved investment transparency.

What to Expect From an ICMS Cost Report

There are four layered levels:

Level 1: Project Categories - a summary of project detail, ie function, size, location, programme, procurement method etc.

Level 2: Cost Categories (CAPEX) - a simple split between capital construction costs, ie total costs for each of the elemental packages (Level 3) combined and “Associated capital costs”, the total project soft costs extracted again from Level 3.

Level 3: Cost Groups - shows the traditional elemental split of packages of works. “Capital construction costs” within Level 3 will include elemental headings similar to the old BCIS (RICS Building Cost Information Service) cost plan format, ie demolition, substructure, superstructure etc. Level 3 “Associated capital costs” includes, but is not limited to, a breakdown of land acquisition, consultant fees, legal fees etc.

Level 4: Cost Subgroups - the sub-elements quantities and estimating/ pricing for the packages, ie the Level 3 “structure” package has Level 4 sub-packages such as frames, upper floors and roof slabs etc. Level 4 supporting information is the measurement and estimating works in accordance with NRM, POMI or CESSM

Here's an example of how a report would be presented:

1. Level 1: Project Categories

  • Project Categories - 12 Nr. (Buildings, Roads and Motorways, Railways, Bridges, Tunnels, Sewage treatment Works, Water Treatment Works, Pipelines, Well Drilling, Power-generating Plants, Chemical Plants)
  • Project Attributes (characteristic requirements of the project) and Project Values (particulars of the project). These are then split as “Common” and “Category” specific, ie Buildings, Roads and Motorways etc.

An example of Level 1: Project Categories is as follows:

The above “Project Categories - Attributes” makes reference to the International Property Measurement Standards (IPMS) already adopted locally in Dubai and Ajman, and used for the calculation of building areas (GFAs). The IPMS guides are initially for commercial office and residential buildings, but in the future will include retail, industrial and other sectors.

2. Level 2: Cost Category

  • Capital construction costs
  1. Demolition and site preparation
  2. Substructure
  3. Structure
  4. Architectural works
  5. Services and equipment
  6. Underground drainage
  7. External works
  8. Preliminaries
  9. Risk allowances
  10. Taxes and levies
  • Associated capital costs
  1. Land and property acquisition
  2. Construction related consultants and supervision
  3. Work and utilities outside site
  4. Post-completion furniture, furnishings and equipment
  5. Administrative, finance, legal and marketing expenses
  6. Risk allowances

An example of Level 2: Cost Categories and Level 3: Cost Groups is as follows:

3. Level 4: Cost Subgroup

Level 4 Cost Subgroups, as shown above, would be the measurement and local pricing of the construction project packages of works. Applicable measurement rules at this time are the NRM 1 and 2, plus POMI and would be prepared as the cost and quantity surveyor would currently do for a cost report or Pricing Schedule/ Bills of Quantities.

Other Changes for ICMS Compatibility

The NRM will be amended in 2017 to ensure compatibility with the post-consultation ICMS. RICS will also withdraw the POMI rules of measurement (widely used in the GCC region) in 2017, and replacement is uncertain at present. Local GCC markets’ reluctance to embrace NRM2 as an alternative Pricing Schedule at tender/contract award stages, a suitable replacement for POMI and NRM2 would seem a natural progression. This would also supplement the IPMS and ICMS as the construction industry becomes more standardised and coordinated in its approach to project delivery.

Accurate Benchmarking Alongside ICMS

We are currently updating the Faithful+Gould global project data app iNSIGHT, to convert the data for the 14,000 projects into ICMS-compatible format. Our clients will therefore continue to benefit from accurate benchmarking against comparable project data, when ICMS is implemented.