Tool launched to standardise global construction project costs comparisons

construction site stockA global coalition of 45 organisations has launched a new standard which aims to reduce investment risk by improving the comparison of infrastructure project costs.

Infrastructure projects across the globe categorise and forecast construction costs differently, making investment risky.

The new International Construction Measurement Standards (ICMS) harmonise cost, classification and benchmarking definitions to enhance comparability and consistency of capital projects. It will, for the first time, enable better comparison between projects to improve investor confidence and attract private sector funding.

Produced by a coalition of organisations including the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), the Chartered Institution of Civil Engineering Surveyors (ICES), the Indian Institute of Quantity Surveyors and the International Cost Engineering Council, early adopters of the ICMS include Arup, Arcadis, Network Rail, Gardiner and Theobald, Turner and Townsend and Faithful+Gould.

A report by McKinsey Global Institute, ‘Reinventing Construction: A route to higher productivity’ (Feb 2017), found that the International Construction Measurement Standards “will help clarify the costs of projects”.

ICMS standardsRICS said that the new standard comes at a time where, according to its UK Construction & Infrastructure Market Survey released last week, financial constraints are by far the most significant impediment to building activity.

In addition, respondents to the survey also cited economic uncertainty as a barrier driven by primarily by Brexit, alongside difficulties with access to bank finance and credit, and cash flow and liquidity challenges. The respondents also highlighted an expectation of increased tender prices signalling rising costs.

Ken Creighton, UK, chair of the ICMS coalition and director of professional standards at RICS, said: “It is the duty of professional bodies and associations to lead advances in standards which improve our ability to manage risk. As a new international standard ICMS provides an enabling framework which promises to inspire our profession and add direct value to the public.

“ICMS will benefit all stakeholders with an interest in buildings and civil engineering construction, including developers, owners, occupiers, managers and investors by creating a common language for construction investment and enabling better benchmarking.”

See Lian Ong, chair of the ICMS Standards Setting Committee and chair of Commission 10 the International Federation of Surveyors, added: “We are delighted to launch this new standard. With increasing levels of public private, cross-border financing and construction investment funds underpinning our pension schemes, it is vital to make sure costs can be assessed in a transparent way. The ICMS framework will improve ways of working and this collaborative project is an example of the global construction profession uniting to improve ways of working for the public interest.”

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