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There is dearth of information on output level of building operatives in Nigeria,

consequently, the output constants currently used for preparation of construction estimates

are remnants of British colonial heritage or derived from untested experiences. Therefore

this study aims at empirically determining output constants for floor finishes (screeds and

tiles) for building project in Abuja. The objectives are to identify the productivity factors

related to Building Engineering Standard Method of Measurement 3 (BESMM3) and

evaluation of their impact on the outputs of five work items of floor finishes. The

procedure adopted field survey involving work measurement to observe and measure

operatives output. Data was collected from 80 on-going construction sites with an average

of 50 gangs of workers for each work item to establish the following average outputs per

day; 25mm thick cement and sand screed (23.70), 44mm thick cement and sand screed

(19.31), 400 X 400mm ceramic floor tile (27.38), 300 X 600mm ceramic floor tile (30.18)

and 300 X 300mm ceramic floor tile (23.61). The study also revealed a significant

difference on mode of employment and period of observation on the outputs of the

workers. The results suggest that experience and negotiation as mode of employment affect

output of workers to varying degrees based on the thickness of floor screed and unit area of

floor tile. The study has recommended that the established output should serve as an

effective baseline for efficient estimating process and be in compliance with the BESMM




1.1     Background of the Study

The source of labour output used for estimation of construction cost has been a point of

discourse and contention. This is because this involves the quantitative estimation of the

labour rates while market survey research for materials prices are the basis for the material

cost estimation (Ashworth, 2002). The high degree of inaccuracy found in BOQ estimates

is mostly attributed to the uncertainty of the accuracy of the labour constants used in

pricing labour costs. Ajia (2002) concluded that while most of the outputs used by

estimators are the British originated constants, some contractors adopt outputs gotten from

their experience and hence non-uniform outputs are widely in use.

The common method of generating cost estimates for construction projects involves the

multiplication of unit rate by the measured quantities in the bill of quantities (Ashworth,

2002). The unit rate is a component of labour rate (obtain from the multiplication of labour

constant by all-in rate) plus cost of material and percentage allowance for profit and

overhead, while the measured quantities are obtained from drawings and specifications for

the works rules specified by Building and Engineering Standard Methods of Measurement

(BESMM). The inconsistency in application of a defined output constant for construction

estimates has posed a serious challenge to the accuracy of estimates computed by quantity


Labour being one of the important components of the construction industry productivity

represents a considerable proportion of the final cost usually accounting for between 40 to

60% of building cost (Abdullahi et al., 2010 and Butchan et al., 1993). The assessment of


labour rate used for preparation of unit rate for Bill of Quantities requires high level of

reliability and accuracy. Essentially, the preparation of Bill of Quantities requires collating

cost information on materials, assessing labour and plant outputs and evaluating project

overheads. It is important, that cost estimates have clear indications of the level of

information reliability and not subsequent explanation of inaccuracy (Morledge, 2006).

According to Abdulrazaq et al. (2010) the output constants currently used for preparation

of construction estimates are remnants of British colonial heritage or derived from

experience of the estimators. Olomolaiye and Ogunlana (1989) reported that firms based

their outputs for estimating and planning purposes on experience which at best are

educated guesses. Without adequate knowledge of operatives output, it is impossible to

draw a reliable construction programmes or make accurate cost estimates for tendering

purposes. According to Talhouni (1990), the British Research Establishment (BRE) studies

only reported the overall labour variability for house building, but no attempt was made to

quantify or explain the performance variability with regard to possible causes or factors

that will affect the output of labour on the site and therefore the database used in the

previous studies are questionable and are primarily based on activities sampling or data

reported by tradesmen.

However, Yates and Swagata (1993) argued that the productivity of workers is being

influenced by factors which vary according to geographical locations. Therefore, if these

factors vary acutely with location then how feasible, realistic and accurate are the currently

adopted British originated outputs within the Nigerian context? Hence, this research work

intends to employ work study approach to empirically establish labour outputs of some

selected trades with the view of improving the accuracy of construction cost estimates.



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