Concept Cost Estimating Lessons Learned from High School Math Tests

Did you ever have the following comment written in bright red marker by your teacher on a high school math test next to your wrong answer?

X You did not show your work. How did you get your answer?

Unfortunately, this comment was common on my math tests in high school. As more of a creative than analytical person, my correct answers were often accompanied by scratch work that didn’t look like anyone else’s and probably wouldn’t make sense to anyone else either, so I would only write the correct answer. Even more unfortunate was that my creatively derived answers were inevitably marked wrong even when the answers were correct!

When I finally got tired of my grade point average going down simply because I didn’t think the teacher would like or understand my imaginative mathematical methodology, I came up with a new strategy.  I would do whatever was necessary to show my work. Consequently, one day I entered my math class on test day armed with a few colored pencils, and I decided to apply my artistic skills to my math answers. Interesting arrows, diagrams, circles, pie charts, and even spirals began to fill my test blanks where most people had only numbers, but something wonderful began to happen. Correct answers quickly began to replace wrong answers and my teachers learned to follow my strange and colorful approach to math. At that point in my academic career, I learned a valuable lesson. I learned that showing how I arrived at a conclusion was just as and sometimes even more important than providing a correct answer. I found out that demonstrating my work actually showed the value of my answer and it gave me power! It proved my answer was correct beyond a shadow of a doubt.


Never Underestimate the Importance of Clarity in Design Phase Cost Estimating

Likewise, never underestimate the importance of clarity in design phase cost estimating. The transparency of the information you use and your methodology in concept cost estimating is just as important as the accurate estimate you provide for several reasons. First, just like my interesting creative methodologies drawn out on paper could show my high school math teachers that my answers were correct, a clearly illustrated approach to design phase cost estimating can show your clients that your design phase cost estimate is undeniably accurate. They will be able to see exactly how you calculated your estimate.

In high school, I learned the hard way that transparent and well explained steps to an answer has the power to prove an answer is correct and it can even prove your answer is better than someone else’s. In the world of construction, the necessity for transparent answers in your design phase cost estimating is extremely important as well. For example, if a vendor has a different answer, you will need proof that your estimate is the correct so you have the proof you need to be able to eliminate waste and to not be overcharged for services or products.

Similarly, a clear record of your design phase estimating will also help clients trust you to spend the amount of money that you estimated for their project. It will also help eliminate disparity and problems that will arise later if the client’s initial budget is off.  You will be able to prove the discrepancies ahead of time and make necessary adjustments, preventing changes and problems that might occur later in the project. That’s power!

In addition, clearly illustrated concept cost estimating helps create better critical resource-allocation throughout the project with a much more accurate cost-based schedules that will also significantly reduce waste and spending. The bottom line is that showing all the details during the concept cost estimating stage will give you the powerful ability you need to reduce waste, improve ROI, and keep your clients happy. If you would like to learn more about how Zaxon is able to provide clarity and comprehensive detail on our design phase estimates, visit