Sample Residential Schematic Design Cost Plan Report – March 2019

This (slightly condensed) sample cost plan report is for a residential alterations & additions project. It shows the general format & content of a measured Schematic Design Stage Cost Plan report that I prepare. 

(The information included is general only and is intended to show the layout of this report type. The content, quantities & rates are not to be used for any other purpose.) 

Sketch / Schematic Design Specification Notes / Templates for Residential Cost Planning 

These samples provide an indicative format and content for some specification notes you can use to provide the Cost Planner to help with preparing a Sketch (or Schematic) Design Stage Cost Plan Report. 2 templates are for provided – One for New and one for Alterations & Additions residential projects. 

These samples, of course, don’t cover all items required or all possible circumstances that may be encountered – or all design or specification possibilities – but they will help the Cost Planner prepare a cost report for you. 

If other items, works or potential costs are required (i.e. difficult access or proximity to neighbours; specific major repairs, etc.), then notes should be included to acknowledge them. 

Indicative $/unit allowances (such as, “Stove supply: $2,000”) are more helpful at this early stage than are brand names (or model numbers – this, in my opinion, really is more Design Development or Tender Stage information), as all brands have an assortment of models for any item and have quite a range of possible costs. 

Comments like ‘medium range’ or ‘high quality’ will occasionally also not be a very helpful description, as one designer’s idea of ‘high quality’ may be another designer’s opinion of ‘low range’ … The indicative $ figures are more helpful. 

If you have any questions let me know… but please feel free to take these templates and use them yourself if you like. 

(last updated 17.04.2019)

Phases (or Stages) of Design 

Different words may be used for each phase of design by various people… and this can affect, or confuse, the timing, content and quality of documentation and cost planning advice… In other words ‘What to do when, and how to do it…’

The Phases of Design are as follows (though some client submissions may be worded differently):

PhaseCost Plan
1Master PlanBriefingA
2Feasibility Study *Planning / Outline ProposalB
3Schematic Design *DesignC1
4Design DevelopmentDetailed DesignC2
5Contract DocumentationDocumentation / TenderD
6Contract AdministrationConstruction 
7Post Occupancy EvaluationAfterwards / Implementation 

Now, these are not always adhered to on small and residential projects, but it is important to ‘sign off’ on Design, Cost & Budget at the end of each phase before proceeding to the next phase.

Cost & Budget Planning should commence (and is most effective) at the earliest of these stages… @ Feasibility Design and Schematic Design (assuming Master planning is not happening)… *

Schematic Design may also be called Sketch Design or Concept Design… And the cost plan may also be referred to as a Limit of Cost report.

Design Development may also be called Detailed Design.

Prime Cost Sums and Provisional Sums 

Prime Cost Sum

A fitting or item that is part of the contract (of works), but the specific type, model or brand of the item has either not been selected, or its price cannot be confirmed at the time the contract is entered into.

The Builder is also to make a reasonable allowance for the supply, storage, supervision, installation and delivery of these items, as appropriate, within the contract price.


Not fully worked out, agreed upon or final and is provided to serve or act as sufficient for the time being, and is subject to review, adjustment or change.

Provisional Sum

A reasonable estimate of the cost (or price) of certain works, if the builder, after making reasonable inquiries, cannot give a definite price when the contract is signed


Prime Cost (PC) Sums, or Items, (as well as Provisional items, costs & quantities) can be used as allowances for items of work required and are to be included in the contract, but that are yet to be specified, identified, confirmed, quoted, fully determined or documented.  If used wisely, they are a handy tool for cost management.

Prime Cost Sum items need to be carefully thought through and clearly documented. They should be well described and the $ allowances allocated to them should be credible.

Ensure that GST, if applicable, is clearly noted (i.e. included or excluded) in the amount specified.

Ensure that Supply Only or Supply & Install are clearly noted.

The amount specified should also be Nett Cost (i.e. supply or sub-contract price) and should not include builder’s overheads and preliminaries, which the builder should add separately in their tender.

Prime Cost and Provisional Sums may be used for both supply only and for supply and installation. The following are some examples:

Supply only :

  • Kitchen whitegoods – ovens etc.,
  • Light fittings,
  • Wall and floor tiles,
  • Letter boxes,
  • Sanitary fittings and tap sets,
  • Hot water service.

Supply and install:

  • Hydronic heating,
  • Air conditioning,
  • Landscaping,
  • Repairs ,
  • Damp-proofing courses in existing masonry walls where the extent of the problem is yet to be uncovered or determined.

Note: It is not wise to blindly accept PC sums proposed by a builder at the time of tendering, or signing a contract, without investigating their validity (i.e. accuracy) … These PC’s, if inadequate and if not checked, can be the cause of many problems, cost blow-outs, variations and ultimately, dispute.

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