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Common cost estimate classifications historically used are

 Order of magnitude
 Preliminary
 Definitive
These correspond to modern published classes 5, 3, and 1, respectively. The U.S. Department of
Energy and many others use a system of five classes of estimates:

Estimate class Name Purpose Project definition level

Class 5 Order of magnitude Screening or feasibility 0% to 2%

Class 4 Intermediate Concept study or feasibility 1% to 15%

Class 3 Preliminary Budget, authorization, or control 10% to 40%

Class 2 Substantive Control or bid/tender 30% to 70%

Class 1 Definitive Check estimate or bid/tender 50% to 100%

Methods used to prepare the estimates range from stochastic or judgment at early definition to
deterministic at later definition. Some estimates use mixed methods.[6]
Cost estimate classifications have been published by ASTM[7] and AACE International.[8] The
American Society of Professional Estimators (ASPE) defines estimate levels in the reverse order as
Level 1 – Order (Range) of Magnitude, Level 2 – Schematic/Conceptual Design, Level 3- Design
Development, Level 4 – Construction Document, and Level 5 – Bid.>.”[9] ACostE defines a Class I
Estimate as definitive, a Class II Estimate as semi-detailed, and a Class III Estimate as pre-
budget.[10]
Other names for estimates of different classes include:

Class 1 Class 3 Class 5

Detailed estimate Semi-detailed estimate Conceptual estimate

Final estimate Scope estimate Pre-design estimate


Control estimate Sanction estimate Preliminary estimate

As-bid estimate Pre-budget estimate

As-sold estimate Evaluation estimate

CD estimate DD estimate SD estimate

Parametric estimate

Rough order-of-magnitude (ROM) estimate

Very rough order-of-magnitude (VROM) estimate

SWAG (scientific, wild-ass guess) estimate

PIDOOMA (pulled-it-directly-out-of-my-ass) estimate