Last edited 02 Sep 2020

Target cost for construction

Target costs are generally associated with cost-reimbursable contracts. They introduce a mechanism enabling the contractor, and sometimes the consultant team, to share in the benefits of cost savings, but also to bear some of the client's cost when there are cost overruns. Contracting the contractor and the consultant team on a target cost basis can be an effective way of ensuring good collaboration.

The target cost is set early in the project, and then cost savings or overruns are shared based on an agreed formula. The aim is to provide a financial incentive encouraging cost control, rather than to penalise. Bonus and penalty payments are usually capped to prevent over-zealous or adversarial behaviour.

Target costs might be set for the overall project, or for specific elements of the works. Agreeing the target cost requires that the client has sufficient knowledge and experience to be able to accurately estimate the likely cost of the works and to negotiate effectively with the contractor and sometimes the consultant team.

Examples of target cost contracts include the New Engineering Contract (NEC) Engineering and Construction Contracts Option C: Target contract with activity schedule and Option D: Target contract with bill of quantities.

NB: According to NRM2: Detailed measurement for building works, in the context of bills of quantities, the term ‘cost target' means; '...the total expenditure for an element or
work package.'

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