These are excellent manuals and they have a CD estimator. The Cost Manual $23, is a SF cost manual for commercial and residential, and the Estimators are great for repair estimates, costs to cure, etc. A little bit of learning curve for the CD but not bad. I have placed against Boeckh's Cost Guides and they are favorable
Boeckh is now owned b Marshall & Swift and can be accessed at M& S/Boeckh
The books are good, the cheaper CD's stink because they are oriented to insurance work and inflate the values badly. The others are overpriced. The books are reasonably priced with the Commercial at $140 the most expensive. The Ag and Commercial books are my standard books, I no longer use Marshall and Swift. I was using a Boeckh product RVBS but it was discontinued, and I have begun using the Craftsman books.
R. S. Means is a subsid. of Reed Construction data. I have been told that M & S actually uses their data, too. The SF Costs 2003 ($115.95) is a quite complex book but probably can provide a more accurate estimate if used properly. It is actually more of an Additive cost per SF book and estimates the various components as well as base costs. They have a CD. Their site is R. S. Means
Signed up (free).....Costs 6 'pelts' per estimate.......They don't tell you how much 'till they're about to caluculate your estimate. At that point you have a cholce to 'bail out.' Don't know if 6 Bucks is standard though.......Thanks for the link. Anyone else using this link?
Blue 1- I use SwiftEstimator. Six dollars is standard res, I believe that commercial is 10. One nice feature is that you can review and correct any errors that you have made without paying another six dollars. With M&S, I sometimes have some indecision as to which category a house falls into, and it is nice to be able to review the process if something seems ridiculously high or low.
The only part of the on-line service that is disappointing, is the lack of oddball improvements on the site. For those you still need to look at the books.
My office does about 10 new constr. per month. Usually these have a bid (many are owner doing part of work). So I have direct bids, very useful for individual items like well, septic, as well as building costs. Also, have sales of specs and good land value support to extract costs from market. After a few from each local builder you get a real sense of differences in how each price their work.
One interesting note. A builder's wife became a real estate salesperson a couple of years ago. After a while she was able to find the "right" out-of-town appraiser, so now her husband's houses sell for about 10% more than they used to compared to other builders. 90% of his buyers are from out of state, members of his church, and/or FHA qualified. She explicitly asks that I and another appraiser (local) NOT be used. Only 1 that has a tendency to be high and her pet from across the county are allowed.
Using the market sales, I have worked backward thru the cost books and Boeckh was the closest to what our market was doing. Natl cost books give you quite a bit of wiggle room, but are not far off. M & S, Like Ed sez, seems to be a little high out here in the sticks for an average house, but I tend to find that for the high end houses, they are pretty much on to a little low.
If the Cost App. is critical, it doesn't hurt to test two sources. I do this quite often for commercial buildings, especially if there is a large difference in what I am figuring and what the owner of a newer Comm. building said it cost to build.
Do you want the easiest, or the best?? They will be very different.......
The easiest is what 95% of the appraisers out there are doing, just make up whatever numbers you need to back into the cost approach, and make it match the value conclusion from the sales comparison approach. It's really easy, and takes only 2-3 minutes!!!!!!!!