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Overhead in construction

What Is Considered Overhead in Construction?

Construction overhead is the cost of running the project. It includes both the portions of indirect or general expenses and direct or job expenses. The total cost estimation of any new construction, addition, or renovation project spares a portion of these expenses. Overheads take the form of a percentage to the summation of material, equipment, and labor costs. Overhead in construction holds a pivotal position in determining the success or failure of the project. Estimators often remain ignorant of these hidden expenditures and do not include them in the total estimation. As a result, the owner has to bear delays or cost overruns.

Considering the essence of the overheads in the profitability of the business is a critical task. An adequate analysis is necessary, as these accumulate a sizeable chunk of the overall cost.  Construction cost evaluators have to put all their expertise into determining these overheads while preparing the budget in an accurate manner. Once you prepare the total cost proportionately to all the direct or indirect project costs, success is sure to come. 

An Outlook of The Indirect and Direct Overhead Costs

Overhead costs are normally unseen throughout the project cycle but are as important as a meal to eat. Without considering these you cannot ensure the smooth-running pace of the project. Overheads are not directly linked to the construction endeavors but act as a supporting agent to keep things running. These expenses come under both direct and indirect cost brackets. Let us check what are they:

General Expenditure or Indirect Cost

General overheads are the fixed expenses of the project that the contractors use in the construction project. These vary proportionally from project to project depending upon the size. The number of indirect overheads is converted into the percentage of the total annual business expenditures. Heads that cover the general cost segment are

  • The entire office expenditures are part of this category. It comprises lease expenses, office rent, furniture, supplies, equipment, phone call, taxation, office insurance policy, and utility expenses.
  • The salaries of all individuals involved in the construction project. They may include administrative departments, quantity takeoff purchasers, executives, estimators, bookkeepers, or anyone at the front foot or backend of the project.
  • Miscellaneous expenses come under this section that encompasses legal charges, promotional or marketing costs, professional service fees i.e., auditing, membership, etc., and donations.
  • The cost of using tools and equipment during construction that is subject to depreciation each year. The depreciation fee of such business objects is charged as the general overhead cost.

Job Overhead Expenses or Direct Cost

Job overhead in construction is the most visible expenditure that is incurred while carrying out the project. These costs are directly linked to the particular business and are charged in addition to the general expenses. Moreover, the object expenses under this head are distinct for every project and are essential for the successful accomplishment of the project. Direct expenses of the construction project include

  • Salary structure in relevance to the specific construction project. It differs from regular office salaries and includes the remuneration of all the entities related to the construction project. These are the wages, payrolls, on-site staff salaries of the project foreman, engineer, superintendents, project scheduling team, and traveling expenses. The calculation of labor wages is based on the wage structure of an hour, week, or month.
  • Costs associated with all the temporary facilities or enclosures for the office to carry out a construction project. It may include the temporary space and its rent, leased office fee, equipment used on the site and depreciation, storage capacity, protection expenses, and temporary utility expenses for the project, i.e., light, power, water, heat, fuel, electricity, power polls, generators, transformers, etc.
  • Sanitation facilities for the workers like rented toilets fees, drinkables i.e., water, tea, coffee for the staff, and miscellaneous expenditures in the form of site photography, winter weather protection chores i.e., heating facility or tents, inspection fees, authoritative charges like legal permits and quantity testing.

Calculating Overhead in Construction

A construction estimator has to take into account certain factors of the construction project to calculate overheads correctly. The varying elements of the type of construction, the size of the building, the area, and the construction protocols alter the calculation results. Besides this, the percentage calculation of the direct expenses is the recommended method for the overhead evaluation. It ranges from 10% to 20% and may be subject to change owing to the varying project dynamics.

In the case of commercial construction estimating projects, the overheads hold a discrete section in the budget. The derivation of the total project cost takes in the summation of this calculated overhead amount and the other direct costs. Regular tracking and updating these overheads are necessary as they are prone to change with the uncertain specifics of laws & regulations, insurance policies, and unforeseen cost bumps.

Why Overhead Consideration is Important?

Overheads in a construction project hold a very important position. Considering it in its true sense can take the project to the heights of success and can result in project failures in case of inadequate determination. Both direct costs of material and labor and indirect costs support each other for keeping the construction infrastructure intact. Not only this, the combination favors smooth running throughout the project lifecycle. Below is a brief explanation of the functionality of overheads in the construction project.

  • Covering general administration expenses in the form of office expenditures and salaries for non-construction personnel
  • Offering insurance coverage for the labor, tools & equipment, and materials quantities used in the construction project
  • Acquiring compulsory licenses and permits to abide by local regulations and laws
  • Renting construction equipment, like cranes, excavators, devices, and their maintenance
  • Taxation or levies payment on the construction site

Final Words

Overhead in construction projects occupies a crucial rank that ensures the project keeps going in the right direction by means of essential resources. The precise evaluation of the direct or indirect overheads by the estimators assists in the exact construction cost estimation. Thus, guarantees the successful achievement of the project with respect to time and budget. The right percentage allocation to the direct overhead cost helps in determining the right costing amount.

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