Soft costs are often overlooked when it comes to construction projects, but they can have an effective influence on the profitability of the project. A list of soft costs in construction refers to any non-construction-related expenses associated with a construction project, such as legal fees, permit fees, design and engineering fees, cost estimating services, and more. These soft costs can add up quickly and often make up a large portion of the total cost of a project. It is essential for contractors to understand what these soft costs are in order to ensure that their projects remain profitable. Let’s explore how to preliminary estimate or calculate soft expenses so that they can be accurately included in a construction budget.

Difference Between Hard And Soft Costs In Construction

The difference between hard and soft costs in construction projects is significant.
  • Hard costs refer to the direct cost of materials, labor, and equipment necessary for a project’s completion. These are typically easier to estimate since they are concrete costs that must be paid upfront.
  • Soft costs refer to any other non-construction-related expenses associated with a project, such as design and engineering fees, legal fees, permit fees, and other services. Estimating construction costs can vary greatly between projects, depending on the scope of work and the complexity of the project.

Common Soft Costs In Construction Projects

For most construction projects, there are many soft costs associated with the project. Some of the most common examples of soft costs in construction include:

Permitting And Regulatory Fees

Permits and regulations are essential for ensuring that construction projects meet building codes and safety standards. Permits are required by local governments to ensure that construction projects comply with all applicable building codes and safety regulations. This includes everything from the size of the structure being built to the materials used for the installation and maintenance of mechanical systems. Laws also vary by state or country, so it’s essential to be aware of the regulations in your area.

Design And Architectural Fees

Design and architectural fees are typically paid to a professional team of architects, engineers, and designers who work together to create detailed drawings and plans for the project. Depending on the complexity of the project, these fees can range from modest to extremely expensive. This is why it is important to have a detailed understanding of the scope of the project and anticipate any additional fees that could be associated with design and architectural services.

Legal And Consulting Fees

Construction projects require a great deal of legal advice, contract drafting, and consulting services. It is essential that construction companies are aware of all legal requirements in order to ensure they comply with building codes and safety regulations. This includes permits, zoning laws, and any additional regulatory requirements. Legal advice is also necessary in order to draft contracts for the project between contractors, subcontractors, and suppliers. The cost of legal and consulting services can add up quickly, so it is important to be aware of any potential costs before starting a project.

Insurance Costs

Insurance coverage helps protect construction projects from risks like property damage, people getting hurt, and people making claims. It makes sure that if something bad happens, you don’t have to pay for it out of your own pocket. The insurance cost can vary by type of project and location, so it is important to research all insurance requirements before starting a project.

Marketing And Advertising Expenses

Marketing and advertising expenses are often overlooked, but they can be essential for getting a project off the ground. Advertising campaigns help to bring attention to the project and market it to potential customers or investors. The cost of these campaigns can vary greatly depending on the type of media used, so it is important to factor these expenses into your budget before starting a project.

Financing And Interest Charges

Financing and interest charges are often necessary for larger construction projects. This is because it can take much longer to complete a project than originally anticipated, leaving the contractor with additional costs that must be covered. Financing and interest charges can add up quickly, so it is important to take into account any financing needs when estimating the cost of a project.

Project Management And Administrative Costs

Project management and administrative costs should be considered when estimating construction soft costs of a project. These costs include project managers, payroll staff, office supplies, and other miscellaneous expenses related to managing a construction project. Although these costs may seem insignificant compared to the hard and soft costs of a project, they can add up quickly if not taken into account.

Preliminary Estimate Of Soft Costs For Construction Projects

To ensure that a construction project remains profitable, it is important to make a preliminary estimate of the project soft costs. This can include researching and estimating the cost of permits, legal fees, design and architectural services, insurance coverage, marketing expenses, financing charges, and other administrative costs. Having this information ahead of construction estimation timelines will help contractors understand what potential soft costs may be associated with their project and help them make informed decisions about how to proceed. Additionally, it is important to stay up-to-date on changes in building codes and safety regulations that may affect the cost of the project. This includes staying aware of any additional permit requirements or changes to zoning laws that could add additional costs to the project.

Strategies For Controlling Soft Costs

The best way to control soft costs is by making sure that all project participants are aware of what costs may be associated with the project. This includes:

Developing A Comprehensive Project Budget

A comprehensive project budget should be one of the first steps in any construction project. This will help contractors estimate costs accurately and plan for potential changes in the scope of the work that could affect the cost of the project.

Conducting Thorough Cost Estimates

Conducting thorough cost estimates can help contractors identify and plan for any potential soft costs associated with the project. This includes researching permit requirements, legal fees, design and architectural services, insurance coverage, marketing expenses, financing charges, and other administrative costs. Using the best estimating software can help contractors accurately estimate costs and plan for potential changes in the scope of the work.

Implementing Effective Project Management Techniques

Effective project management techniques ensure that all project participants are aware of the scope of the work, their responsibilities, and any potential additional costs associated with the project. This includes regularly communicating with stakeholders throughout the construction process to ensure everyone is on the same page. Additionally, implementing an effective change order system can help contractors keep track of changes in scope and adjust costs accordingly.

Negotiating Fees And Contracts

Negotiating fees and contracts with contractors, subcontractors, and suppliers can help ensure that the final cost of the project is kept to a minimum. This includes working with all parties to agree upon a fair rate for their services and making sure that any potential additional costs are identified upfront. Additionally, making sure that everyone involved in the project understands their responsibilities and obligations can help ensure that the project runs smoothly.

Regularly Monitoring And Tracking Costs

Regularly monitoring and tracking costs throughout the duration of the project can help contractors identify any potential problems before they become too costly. This includes tracking changes in scope, regularly reviewing financial statements and invoices, and looking for any irregularities that could indicate a problem with cost or budgeting. Additionally, utilizing technology such as software programs and mobile apps can help contractors monitor and track project costs in real time.

Build Better Construction With The Best Preliminary Estimates!

The key to controlling soft costs associated with construction projects is proper planning and budgeting. By making a preliminary estimate of the potential soft costs, contractors can plan for any additional expenses that may arise during the project. Additionally, by conducting thorough cost estimates, negotiating fees and contracts, implementing effective project management techniques, and regularly monitoring and tracking costs throughout the duration of the project, contractors will be able to keep their overall budget in line while ensuring quality results. With these tips in mind, you’ll be well on your way to building better construction projects!  


Why Are Soft Costs Important In Construction Projects?

Soft costs are important in construction projects because they have a significant impact on the overall project budget and profitability. While hard costs (direct construction costs) are more tangible, soft costs can account for a substantial portion of the project’s expenses. 

What Are The Benefits Of Conducting Thorough Cost Estimations For Controlling Soft Costs?

Conducting thorough cost estimations helps in accurately forecasting soft costs, enabling better budget planning, and minimizing the likelihood of unexpected expenses or cost overruns.

What Are The Potential Risks Of Not Effectively Controlling Soft Costs?

 Not controlling soft costs can lead to budget overruns, reduced project profitability, financial strain, delays, and potentially compromised project quality, undermining the overall success of the construction project.

Can Soft Costs Be Reduced Or Eliminated Entirely In Construction Projects?

Soft costs are an inherent part of construction projects as they involve necessary expenses for design, permits, legal requirements, and project management. While they cannot be eliminated entirely, effective cost management strategies can help control and optimize soft costs to minimize their impact on the overall project budget.

How Can Project Teams Foster Collaboration And Communication To Control Soft Costs Effectively?

Project teams can establish open lines of communication, promote transparency, and encourage regular collaboration among stakeholders. This ensures that everyone is aligned with project goals and cost management strategies and is actively involved in identifying cost-saving opportunities and addressing potential issues related to soft costs.

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