Construction Estimating Details

This section explains some specific construction details, and how to handle them in the Goldenseal construction estimating software.

BASIC CONSTRUCTION DETAILS
       Cape Cods & A-Frames | Foundation Details | Multiple Units
       One of a Kind Items | Project Types | Small Quantities
       Tall Buildings | Town Houses | Using Rooms

EXTERIOR DETAILS
        Dormers | Exterior Wall Lengths | Garages

INTERIOR DETAILS
        Cathedral Ceilings | Ceiling Heights | Floor Areas | Half Bathrooms
        Interior Walls | Knee Walls | Partly Finished Areas | Room Counts
        Room Walls | Sloped Ceilings | Soffits & Pass-throughs | Room Additions

Other CONSTRUCTION DIMENSIONS
       Basic Dimensions | Foundations | Roof Dimensions | Structural
       Exteriors | Windows & Doors | Finish Dimensions | Room Dimensions
       Construction Details

Website Info Links
       Construction Estimating Software | Construction Software | Estimating Software

RELATED TOPICS
       Assemblies | Cost Items | Calculated Dimensions | Dimensions | Estimates

Cape Cods and A-Frames

Cape Cod buildings (sometimes known as "story-and-a-halfs") and A-frame buildings are unusual because the upper story is inside the roof framing, not beneath it.

To handle the reduction in siding area caused by the lower roof line, enter a negative number for the difference between the top floor ceiling height and the eaves, on the Exterior Dimensions form.

For a Cape Cod, measure from the average top floor ceiling height to where the siding ends under the eaves, and enter it as a negative number on the Exterior Dimensions card.

For an A-frame, measure down from the average top floor ceiling height to the bottom of the sloped roofs, and enter it as a negative number on the Exterior Dimensions card.

For the upper floor of Capes and A-frames (or for other loft areas that fit entirely under the roof framing), enter the length of any gable end walls and any knee walls as exterior walls on the Basic Dimensions or Rooms forms.

If there are no knee walls being built upstairs, and the room extends all the way to the junction of roof framing and floor framing, enter the gable end walls only, since no side walls exist.

When entering upstairs floor area for either type of project, include only the floor area that will actually be finished and walked upon. Storage area under the eaves should not be included in the basic floor areasÉ instead, enter it as attic space on the Windows, Doors & Trim form.
HINT-- If the area above the collar ties has a floor and is used for storage, also include that in the attic area.

Enter the area covered by collar ties under Ceiling Framing Quantity on the Structural Dimensions form. Also fill out thickness and spacing information there.

If you use balloon framing on a Cape Cod project, you may want to add an additional line item in Specifications to cover the extra labor and material for framing at the eaves.

Cathedral Ceilings

Cathedral ceilings and other raised ceilings are handled differently, depending on the layout of the building and the construction type.

Remodeling Project

If you enter rooms for the project, simply enter the ceiling height for each room. Goldenseal will properly compute all dimensions.
HINT-- Be sure that you enter new wall framing between two new rooms into only one of the room cards. Remember that a ăcathedral┴ room may adjoin rooms both upstairs and down!

Entire Story Raised

If an entire story has high ceilings, there is no need to do anything special in Goldenseal. Simply enter the high ceiling on the Basic Dimensions form, and everything will be calculated properly.

One Area Raised by a Floor Cut Upstairs

If the project has two stories or more, and some rooms have a raised ceiling because there is no floor above them, it's also easy to handle. Follow these steps:
  1. Enter the lower floor walls and floor areas as normal. For the ceiling height, measure from the finished floor up to the ceiling in the parts that have rooms above them.
  2. For the upper story, enter the ceiling height, as measured from the finished floor to the ceiling above it.
  3. For the upper story, enter all walls that appear on the blueprint plans. This will include walls around upstairs rooms, plus the wall around the ăcathedral┴ portion of the lower floor.
  4. For the upper story, enter the floor area that will actually have floor on it. Do not include the area that is open to the lower story.

One Area Raised, No Floor Cut Upstairs

On some projects, one or more rooms have a higher ceiling because the roof is higher, or because scissors trusses or open rafters are used instead of a standard triangular truss.   In

Ceiling Heights

If you enter a project as separate rooms, simply enter the average ceiling height for each room.  Goldenseal will calculate wall areas automatically and accurately.

When you enter ceiling heights into the Basic Dimensions form, enter the average ceiling height for each story that is part of the project.

  • For new construction, include the entire building.
  • For an addition, include the addition only.
  • For a gut/ rehab project, include those portions of the building that are being gutted and rehabilitated.
If the entire story has the same ceiling height, use that measurement.
If only a small part of the project has a lower ceiling height (for example, just hallways and bathrooms) ignore the height reduction, and use the ceiling height found in most of the project.
If ceiling heights vary between different parts of the project, use a weighted average.

To calculate a weighted average, follow these steps:

  1. Take an area that all has the same ceiling height.  Multiply area times ceiling height.
  2. Take the next area with a different ceiling height.  Multiply area times ceiling height.  Add that number to the previous total.
  3. Repeat the previous step for each floor area.
  4. When you are finished, divide the resulting number by the total area.

Treat areas under cathedral ceilings (where the upper floor has been removed to produce an area two stories high) as having a normal ceiling height on each story. Do not enter such areas as double height, since the excess wall area will be figured in when you enter walls in the upper story.

Dormers

A dormer is any smaller roof "cut through" and completely surrounded by the main roof.

It will consist of an outer wall, two triangular side walls, and a roof. If your project contains any new dormers, enter their quantity into the Dormers field. Otherwise enter a zero.

Also enter the following information about dormers:

  • Type of roof-- Choose a shed, gable or hip roof.
  • Slope-- Enter the slope used on the dormer roofs.
  • Height-- Enter the height of the dormers. Measure from the point where the siding stops under the dormer's eaves, down to the lowest point where the dormer meets the main roof.
  • Width-- Enter the width of the dormers, measured at right angles to the slope of the main roof.

Exterior Wall Lengths

When computing the length of exterior walls, start by measuring the total length of all walls that are exposed to the outdoors and that are being worked on, for each story of the project.

  • For new construction, enter the total length of all exterior walls.
  • For an addition, enter the total length of exterior walls in the addition only. Do not include the contact wall where the addition and the old building meet.
  • For a gut/rehab project, include the total length of all exterior walls that will be worked on in some formÉ whether they are getting new framing, new insulation, new wallboard or new trim.
When measuring the length of outside walls, measure right through doors and windows. Include the length of all exterior walls that show up on the plans, even if they are not full height.

Exclude porches, decks and sheds. Also exclude the garage, unless you are including it as part of the main building.

Floor Areas

When computing floor area, start by measuring the total gross area of the project that is within the outside surface of each exterior wall. Then make the following adjustments:

  • Exclude large floor openings, or upstairs areas that have no floor and that are merely part of a high-ceiling room beneath them.  Do not exclude small vents or hatchways cut into a floor. Do not exclude stairway openings on either story through which the stairways run, since they still have something underfoot.
  • Exclude courtyards or other areas not enclosed by the building.
  • Exclude porches, decks, and sheds.
  • Exclude any unfinished areas such as attics or crawl spaces. If the are useable for storage, include them in attic area instead.
  • Exclude utility areas that do not have a finished floor of some kind.
  • Exclude an attached garage, unless you are treating it as a room in the main building

Garages

Garages may be considered as part of the main structure, or entered in Exterior Dimensions as a separate entity.

Handling a Garage as a Room

Treat the garage as a part of the main building in either of the following cases:
  • It is completely built into the main building (e.g. with a room above it).
  • It is built almost like a regular finished room (e.g. with wallboard, insulation and interior trim).
To handle the garage as a room in the main structure, follow these steps:
  1. Do not enter any dimensions for the garage in Exterior Dimensions.
  2. Treat the garage as just another room when you enter Basic Dimensions or rooms.
  3. Subtract the garage dimensions from any work that will not be done there (for example, finished flooring).

Handling a Garage as a Separate Structure

Treat the garage as a separate entity in any of these cases:
  • It is completely detached from the main building, or is attached to the main building by only one wall.
  • It is built very differently from the main building.
  • You are building just a garage as an addition.
If the garage is treated as a separate entity, follow these steps:
  1. Enter dimensions for the garage in Exterior Dimensions. Do not include the contact wall between garage and main structure as a part of the perimeter.
  2. When you enter items into the estimate, include unit costs for the garage work.

Half Bathrooms

Enter "half" baths as full bathrooms, either on the Basic Dimensions form, or in a Room form.

When you enter line items into the estimate breakdown table, use the actual fixture counts that are involved in the project. You will have fewer than the suggested number for some fixtures, since Goldenseal bases the suggested quantity on the number of bathrooms.

Interior Walls

Enter the total length of any walls being worked on that are not exposed to the outside, for each story of the project.
HINT-- Because the layout of interior walls varies so much between different projects, Goldenseal does not suggest a quantity for interior walls.

  • For new construction, enter the total length of all interior walls.
  • For an addition, enter the total length of all new interior walls in the addition. At the contact wall between the addition and the old building, include only the length (if any) that is getting completely new framing with new surfaces on both sides.
  • For a gut/rehab project, include the total length of all interior walls that will be worked on-- whether they are getting new framing, new wallboard or new trim.

When measuring the length of inside walls, measure right through doors, but skip any openings that will not be filled with a door. Include the length of all interior walls that show up on the plans, even if they are not full height.
Exclude porches, decks and sheds. Exclude party walls (walls on the exterior that aren't exposed to the outdoors). Exclude the garage, unless it is included as part of the main building.

Knee Walls

Knee walls don't extend all the way to the ceiling. They should be entered into Basic Dimensions or the Room forms just as if they were full height walls, since they still require baseboard, and usually take just as long to frame as full height walls.

If you have a large number of knee walls, you may want to reduce the quantity for Interior Wall Area on the Finish Dimensions layout, to account for the missing wall area caused by the shorter walls.

When you enter line item costs into the estimate breakdown table, use one of the knee wall line items-- although small quantities of knee walls are usually safe to treat as regular walls, since the additional labor they require tends to cancel out the reduced material cost.

Multiple Unit Projects

Goldenseal can handle multi-family residential projects, or multi-unit commercial work.

If you have multiple units in one building, you don't have to do much that's special. Simply choose the type of construction you are doing on the Basic Dimensions layout, enter measurements for the building just like any other project, and enter the number of living units (or businesses) into the Number of Units field.

There are several ways you can approach projects that contain more than one building.  How you do it depends on how you'd like to manage the project:

  • One Estimate-- To enter multiple units into a single project estimate, enter the total measurements for all buildings into the Basic Dimensions layout.  You'll need to measure or calculate some quantities yourself, since the calculations in Goldenseal assume that it's all one building.  Once you've entered wall lengths and floor areas, all of the remaining calculations will be correct except for few roof measurements like hip, eaves and ridges lengths.
  • Adjusted Estimate-- If you have multiple buildings that are all the same, you can enter measurements for just one building, and then multiply all the quantities in the breakdown table by the number of units.
  • Multiple Estimates-- If you don't mind tracking each building separately, just create a separate estimate for each building, and then create a separate project for each building.
  • Using Allowances-- For projects that you do for your own use, you can enter costs for each type of building into an Allowance, and then combine them in an estimate.

Town Houses

When estimating town houses or other side-by-side units, be sure to enter the lineal feet and square feet of party walls into the Basic Dimensions card, and the amount of party wall framing on the Structural Dimensions card.

When you enter cost items for the estimate, remember that town houses will usually have some kind of special treatment, such as masonry fill or fire-rated wallboard, on the party walls. You may also need parapets or other fireproofing details on the roofs.

Stacked Multiple Units

When estimating stacked multiple units, don't enter any party walls, unless the building itself touches other buildings on its sides. On each floor, include both the living unit(s) on that floor, plus any common areas such as stairways, utility areas and halls.

When you enter cost items for the estimate, you may need to add fire-rated wallboard or other treatments on the ceilings between units, in halls and stairways, and on walls between living units and common spaces. You may also need to include multiple mailboxes and other items shared in common by all the units.

One of a Kind Items

Almost every project has something that is out of the ordinary. Some seem to be nothing but weird items! There are several ways to handle weird and tough details, depending on how likely you are to see them again.

Enter them On the Fly

For items that you probably won't ever use again, use the Unallocated choices to type in a number.

To do so, follow these steps:

  1. Compute (or guess) the labor cost for the item.  You can estimate how many hours it will take, and then multiply that by the wage rate that applies.
  2. In the estimate breakdown table, add a new line item (click in the bottom row and hit the Return key).
  3. Enter Labor Unallocated into the Cost Area column.
  4. Type a brief description of the work into the Cost Item column.
  5. Type in the unit size, unit cost, and number of units (which often will just be one).
  6. Compute the material cost for the item.
  7. In the estimate breakdown table, add a new line item.
  8. Enter Material Unallocated into the Cost Area Column.
  9. Type a brief description of the work into the Cost Item column.
  10. Type in the unit size, unit cost, and number of units (which often will just be one).

Enter a Cost Addition

In some cases you can use a regular Cost Item or Assembly that is close to the unusual item, and then use the Unallocated choices to enter just the difference in cost.

For example, to enter framing costs for a curved wall:

  1. In the estimate breakdown table, enter the Assembly for the wall framing that you'll use.
  2. Follow the steps from the previous section, but use only the additional labor that you'll need to handle the curve.  If you need any additional materials, also enter them as a Material Unallocated line item.

New Unit Cost

For an item that you may use again someday, create a new Cost Item or Assembly so you can include it in future projects.

The unit cost can be for a full item, or for an ăadd on┴ cost that you'll attach to a more basic type of construction, just when you need it.

Partly Finished Areas

In some projects, some walls or floors may only be partially finished.

If you enter rooms for the project, the room forms will allow you to specify exactly what work is to be done on each surface.

On other type of projects, you'll have to adjust some dimensions and unit cost quantities to account for the missing work.

For example, to handle a utility room with framing and wallboard installed, but with no taped finish, paint or trim, follow these steps:

  1. Include the walls and floor area of the room in the measurements you entered into the Basic Dimensions form.
  2. Leave the calculated quantities intact on the Structural Dimensions form, since the room will be framed.
  3. On the Finish Dimensions form, leave the wall and wallboard areas intact. Adjust the paint areas downwards by the amount of wall and ceiling areas that is in the utility room, since there will be no paint on those surfaces.
  4. When you enter cost items into the breakdown table, use the full area of the project for wallboard hanging, but reduce the calculated quantity for wallboard taping.

Follow a similar procedure for unfinished floors, unpainted or uninsulated walls, ceilings or floors, and other partly finished areas.

Project Types

Enter one of the following project types in the Basic Dimensions layout:

New Construction-- For a building which is entirely new.
Addition-- For a new area of building which is attached to an existing building.
Gut Rehab-- For an existing building whose interior surfaces will be removed and replaced.
Repairs-- For miscellaneous repairs to an existing building.
Repaint Exterior-- For a repainting of exterior walls.
Repaint Interior-- For a repainting of interior walls.
HINT-- If you are doing more than one type of work on a building, enter the Project Type for the main portion of the work, and enter the remaining portions as rooms.

Room Counts

Treat any of the following as one room:

  • Each regular room, including a full or "half" bathroom.
  • Each hallway.
  • Each room in a finished basement.
  • An attached garage, if it is being considered as a room.
Do not include any of the following as a separate room:
  • Closets.
  • Crawl spaces, unfinished attics, unfinished basement rooms, or other unfinished utility areas.
  • Courtyards or other open areas.
  • Decks or porches.
  • Detached garages, or an attached garage being treated as a separate structure.

Room Walls

Usually you can just enter measurements for four walls, on four sides of a room.  For a non-rectangular room, you can divide the walls into four sections any way you'd like.

You can adjust wall measurements in any of the following cases:

  • More than four walls-- Allocate the room's walls however you like, and enter the length of walls on each "side" into the appropriate field.
  • Different work on each surface-- If different walls get different treatments, you can group them any way you'd like to match the work that you'll do to them.
  • Work on part of a surface-- If you are only working on part of a wall, adjust the size of the wall so it includes only the portion actually being worked on. Similarly, if working on just part of the floor or part of the ceiling, enter just the square footage actually being worked on.
For interior partitions, enter any walls which are entirely within the room.  Some examples:
  • Closet Wall-- Include closets as part of the room to which they are attached, unless you have some good reason to treat the closet as a separate room. Enter the length of the wall between the room and the closet into Partition Length. Measure right through the doorway.
  • Interior Dividers-- If there is a partial "divider" wall inside the room, include its length in Partition Length. Include the wall even if it is a partial height knee wall.
  • Combining Several Rooms-- for more about combining rooms, click here.

Sloped Ceilings

When calculating basic construction areas, Goldenseal assumes that all ceilings are horizontal. If you enter sloped ceilings correctly, the calculated areas will be extremely close to reality.

If most of the ceiling is flat but a few parts of the ceiling are lower, use the height of the flat part for the ceiling height. The calculated wallboard area may be slightly too high, but it usually won't be too far off to be a problem.

If most or all of the ceiling is sloped, use the average ceiling height.  Usually that is halfway between the low point of the roof and the high point.

If you have a sloped ceiling that is fairly steep, its ceiling area will increase. To account for this, you may want to add to the total ceiling area on the Miscellaneous Dimensions card. The area of a ceiling will increase by the following amounts for different slopes:
 
Slope (in. per ft)
Degrees
Area Increase
1
5
0.3%
2
10
1.4%
3
14
3.1%
4
19
5.4%
6
27
11.8%
8
34
20.2%
10
40
30.2%
12
45
41.4%
14
50
53.7%
16
54
66.7%
18
57
80.3%
24
64
123.6%

When working with a sloped ceiling, you may want to add slightly to the cost of hanging wallboard on the ceiling. If you need to frame one of the end walls with a sloping top plate, add some time for the additional framing labor.

Small Quantities

Unit prices work well for ănormal┴ quantities, but they are often too low when used to estimate very small quantities of work. You can't hang one square foot of wallboard in one-thousandth the time it takes to hang 1,000 square feet!

Enter them On the Fly

If you are using a very small quantity of something, you can enter it as an Unallocated line item, with a rough estimate of what it will cost.

To do so, follow these steps:

  1. Compute (or guess) the labor cost for the item.  You can estimate how many hours it will take, and then multiply that by the wage rate that applies.
  2. In the estimate breakdown table, add a new line item (click in the bottom row and hit the Return key).
  3. Enter Labor Unallocated into the Cost Area column.
  4. Type a brief description of the work into the Cost Item column.
  5. Type in the unit size, unit cost, and number of units.
  6. Compute the material cost for the item.
  7. In the estimate breakdown table, add a new line item.
  8. Enter Material Unallocated into the Cost Area Column.
  9. Type a brief description of the work into the Cost Item column.
  10. Type in the unit size, unit cost, and number of units.

Enter a Cost Addition

For small quantities you can also use the regular Cost Item or Assembly for the item, and then enter Unallocated lines to enter the additional labor for the small quantity.  You can also enter any additional material costs, if  there will be more waste.

New Unit Costs

If you often need to install small quantities of some common items, create a new Assembly for a minimum quantity. You can use a Flat Rate Item in the assembly to cover the start-up time, or minimum materials that you need.

Soffits and Pass-Throughs

Soffits above cabinets or around air ducts or other utilities should not affect any dimensions in Goldenseal, except perhaps the number of interior corners. Remember to include their framing labor when you enter cost items into the estimate breakdown table.

Pass-throughs and other small openings in the wall do reduce the amount of wallboard slightly, but generally it is not worth the trouble to adjust interior wall area for them. When you enter cost items into the estimate breakdown table, include the framing labor for wall openings, and any trim details that they require.

Tall Buildings

In a project with more than 3 upper stories, Goldenseal considers all additional floors to be duplicates of the third story.

In many 4 and 5 story "stacked" projects, the bottom floor and top floor have a different layout, and middle stories are all the same. If that is the case, enter the top floor floor plan into the second story on the Basic Dimensions layouts, and the floor plan for the middle floors into the third & up story.

Using Rooms

Use the Estimate Locations command to enter individual rooms into Goldenseal. Normally a room will include one open volume of space within the building, with or without attached closets or other utility spaces.

In some cases you may want to define a room as a slightly different space to handle unusual conditions, or to make the estimating process easier.

Closets

Usually you'll include closets as a part of the room into which they connect (with a partition wall between them). If a closet gets very different treatment from the attached room, enter it as an independent room.
HINT-- Sometimes it's easier to include a closet as part of a room to which it's not attached-- for example, if that makes both rooms rectangular and easier to measure.

Splitting Rooms

A large room that gets drastically different treatments in different parts of the room can be split into two different rooms, to make it easier to specify what is being done to each surface. Sometimes it is also convenient to split a long hallway or other large room into more than one portion.

To split a room:

  1. Enter part of the room on one room card. Since there is no wall one the side that connects to the remainder of the wall, don't give it any framing, wallboard, or other construction items.
  2. Enter the remainder of the room on a different room card.  Since there is no wall one the side that connects to the remainder of the wall, don't give it any framing, wallboard, or other construction items.

Combining Rooms

To cut down on the number of rooms in larger projects, you can consolidate two or more rooms into a single room.
WARNING-- Only combine rooms if they have similar ceiling heights, and if they are being worked on in a similar way.

To combine one or more rooms:

  1. Create a room card for the group of rooms.
  2. Enter the overall dimensions of the group of rooms into the wall, floor and ceiling dimensions.
  3. Enter the length of all walls between the rooms into Partition Walls.

Adding to an Existing Room

If you are enlarging an existing room with brand new construction, handle it as two different rooms by following these steps:
  1. Put the old portion of the room into one roomÉ it will be considered an existing room.
  2. Put the new portion of the room into a separate roomÉ it will be considered a new room.
  3. Enter any demolition into the Structural Dimensions layout.

HINT-- Enter only three walls for the new room and existing room, since the fourth wall is 'open' between them.