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Should-costing for better affordability and efficiency gains

Client Lead

HS2 Ltd

Supporting Organisations/Contractors



A should cost review is a practical, pragmatic methodology that moves beyond traditional cost estimating to improve transparency and affordability. Traditional cost estimation practice usually focus on historical and parametric based knowledge and assessment (Figure 1).

Primary Aim

The primary aim of this project is to demonstrate how adopting a should cost approach it is possible to deliver greater affordability, efficiency and productivity across the whole value chain.

This priority project will focus on building a should cost model demonstrator, around pile and pile cap systems.

This approach will identify key areas to focus on, earlier in the process, and provide greater confidence in decision making by applying a data driven and segmentation approach.

The aim of this project is to evaluate the applicability of Should Cost modelling in the construction sector. This proposal will select a product family (a pile and pile cap), and use this to understand the current cost estimating process. Subject matter experts will select a small number of relevant commercial scenarios (max 5) to be modelled. A small number of key variables (max 3) and their cost estimating relationships will be identified and the detail relating to these terms of cost, time and quality will be outlined for inclusion in a demonstration model. This model will then be evaluated and potential future work packages identified where appropriate.

The key objectives are:

  1. Capture the current process for commissioning, i.e. estimating the cost of a pile and pile cap.
  2. Ratify the current process with the subject matter experts within a traditional supply chain from a client and contractor perspective.
  3. Down select the key process drivers and gather cost estimating relationships, data and assumptions.
  4. Identify common scenarios and ‘variations’ for model.
  5. Build a demonstration of should cost modelling, partially manually around these scenarios.
  6. Conduct gap analysis between current process and the opportunities of using the Should Cost modelling approach.
  7. Identify future work packages to build a wider construction sector should cost modelling capability.



  • Mapping exercise of current pile/pile cap commissioning process
  • Scope out & build Should Cost demonstrator constructed to be used to inform a proof of concept on the pre-selected scenarios and pile product families, including a digital presentation of Should Cost Model and Technical MS Powerpoint presentation.
  • Evaluate Should Cost Demonstrator – Interactive workshop at MTC, Powerpoint Technical presentation, Should Cost Demo model software.
  • The Should Cost Demonstration will be a partially manual system to demonstrate its use with preselected scenarios and will show planning and sensitivity analysis only. (Any software model built is a demonstrator only and will be limited and uncontrolled).
  • The variables relationships are not intended to be coded at this stage of the development, therefore a suitably trained and experienced person will be required to give the demonstration of the should cost scenarios.


Outcomes linked to scale up and commercialisation:

  • If this is found to be beneficial, then the aim is to commission further work to build a fully functional construction Should Cost Tool. This can be refined from both ‘real’ data from HS2 and other infrastructure build programmes. This proposal is a first step in transferring the substantial benefits that Should Cost modelling has delivered to other Industrial Sectors into the Construction Sector.
  • A sector approach through i3P is required to support the further deployment and adoption of the should cost approach. Collaboration within i3P members and the wider construction supply chain will be essential to ensure the maturity is developed and commercialisation and adoption of this approach. Suggested additional phases are detailed below and require further development (Out of scope for this project).

For more information on this project please contact  David.Rogers@hs2.org.uk

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