Challenges of Early Estimation of Infrastructure Projects within the UK: an Information Perspective

Niraj Thurairajah, Hong Xiao, David Boyd, Amy Reed

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

77 Downloads (Pure)


This research examines the challenges of early cost estimation of infrastructure projects within the UK with a focus on why cost overruns are such a persistent issue. The research was carried out by an investigation of existing literature surrounding early estimation in construction, characteristics of UK-based infrastructure projects and cost overruns within infrastructure projects. The data were collected through fourteen semi-structured interviews with estimating professionals who work predominantly on infrastructure projects across the UK. The key findings were that the early estimation process consists of an intricate system of hard and soft information exchange from the many involved parties due to the social and political nature of infrastructure projects; this provides many challenges for the estimator. This led to the idea that an estimate is actually a soft input itself and should not be taken as a hard numerical figure but something which requires human interpretation. Moreover, these challenges are heightened by the number of unknowns and uncertainties that are again part of the very nature of large scale infrastructure projects. This is difficult to address as it is the process of converting soft information into hard information and when soft information is hardened it will inevitably lose some of its information or context. Unfortunately, cost estimates have become to be accepted as hard information even when it is known to be soft information that requires interpretation and sense making.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2018
EventARCOM 2018: 34th Annual Conference – Belfast, UK: A Productive Relationship: Balancing Fragmentation and Integration - Queens University Belfast, Belfast, United Kingdom
Duration: 3 Sept 20185 Sept 2018


ConferenceARCOM 2018: 34th Annual Conference – Belfast, UK
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


Dive into the research topics of 'Challenges of Early Estimation of Infrastructure Projects within the UK: an Information Perspective'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this