Estimation and Control of Construction Labor Costs

by Boyd C. Paulson, Jr., (M.ASCE), Asst. Prof. of Civ. Engrg.; Stanford Univ., Stanford, Calif.,

Serial Information: Journal of the Construction Division, 1975, Vol. 101, Issue 3, Pg. 623-633

Document Type: Journal Paper


This paper outlines basic principles for estimating and controlling field labor costs on construction projects. It divides labor costs into two main categories. The first deals with the strictly financial aspects. These include basic wages, fringe benefits, insurance, taxes, and wage premiums. Most of these are readily quantifiable. The second category introduces factors related to productivity. These include regional variations in skill and work rules; environmental effects ranging from weather and topography to the immediate working conditions of individual craftsmen; learning curve relationships; project work schedule; and interrelationships of labor and management. Productivity factors are difficult to quantify and require much experience and judgment to do so. However, they also offer the contractor the greatest opportunity for control. In both the financial and productivity categories, several of the more subtle cost implications of the various factors are explained. Brief precautionary reference is also made to the many published sources of labor cost data.

Subject Headings: Labor | Construction costs | Employee compensation and benefits | Insurance | Taxation | Environmental issues | Topography | Working conditions

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