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SS 28,5

Elemental cost format for building conservation works in Malaysia
Wee Li Woon and Lim Yoke Mui
School of Housing, Building and Planning, University Sains Malaysia, Gelugor, Malaysia
Purpose – This paper aims to propose a new format to present the cost of building conservation works which will better reflect the actual cost components and have a higher relevance to building conservation works. Design/methodology/approach – To achieve the study’s aim of presenting a new format suitable for building conservation works, a total of 16 conservation projects were selected and work items of the highest frequency were identified and aggregated into the relevant elemental component to formulate a new elemental cost format. Findings – Work items of the highest frequency identified are partitions, doors and ironmongeries, followed by roof finishes and rainwater goods, floor finishes, external walls and windows. In addition to the usual building works, new work items such as scientific analysis, archaeology excavation and temporary roof are also found to be important. Research limitations/implications – The proposed format has yet to be tested in the local industry, which is necessary to ensure compatibility with industry needs. Practical implications – This new cost analysis format includes a list of work items that are specific to building conservation works, which may guide the quantity surveyor in preparing a budget/cost estimate with higher accuracy by reducing the risk of omitted work items that are pertinent in building conservation works. Originality/value – Owing to the lack of cost data information for building conservation works, estimating and controlling the cost in this area of work is very challenging. The proposed new format of elemental cost analysis designed for building conservation works seeks to fill this void by providing a guide in estimating costs for building conservation. Keywords Building conservation, Cost estimates, Heritage, Malaysia Paper type Research paper


Introduction Heritage buildings are icons for a country and reflect the cultural background and the national identity of that country. For this reason, heritage buildings should be conserved as important monuments for future generations. Article 1.4 of the Burra Charter (Australia ICOMOS, 1999) states that conservation is defined as all processes of looking after a place so as to retain its cultural significance. It encompasses the activities that are aimed at the safeguarding of a cultural resource so as to retain its historic value and extend its physical life. Mustapa et al. (2007) argue that
Structural Survey Vol. 28 No. 5, 2010 pp. 408-419 q Emerald Group Publishing Limited 0263-080X DOI 10.1108/02630801011089182

The authors would like to express their thanks and appreciation to Universiti Sains Malaysia for funding this research. Part of this paper was presented at the 13th Conference of the Pacific Association of Quantity Surveying.

2005). especially in the costing aspect. The insight gained from this study may help quantity surveyors to prepare a more accurate cost estimate of for conservation projects in the future. 2007). outlining and defining the difference on the scope of works that are associated with it.conservation. is rather limited. coupled with the quantity surveyor’s lack of understanding in the intricacies of conservation works. cost analysis could help quantity surveyors in preparing cost estimation for a project by providing useful sources of cost information. such as restoration. 1999). It could also be used to predict the project cost throughout the construction phase for cost control purposes. It is a fact that there are many heritage buildings of different eras in Malaysia that should be conserved. In fact. The purpose of preparing a cost analysis for a building project is an attempt to reveal the cost relationship between the various sections of a project. work specification and rate. although defined as a general meaning of preserving and conserving historical buildings as a national heritage. Recent large-scale urban development continues to threaten pre-war buildings. The lack of complete costing information for conservation projects has led to the difficulty of preparing a cost budget for conservation projects. while other historic buildings are simply deteriorating due to age. which allows meaningful comparisons to be made (Seeley. cost analysis is usually conducted using bills of quantities (BQ)... 1996). and also to allow for some comparability with other schemes (Ashworth. As such. 1988).. Kamal et al. this study aims to formulate a new format of cost analysis that is specifically tailored to building conservation works. 1999. can be specifically categorised and each category carries a different meaning. Thus. The basis of cost planning and cost control is cost analysis (Ferry et al. The purpose of preparing a preliminary cost estimate is to produce a forecast cost of the future project before the building is designed in detail and other particulars prepared (Ferry et al. It is required during the inception stage of the design process in order to provide clients with an indication of possible costs associated with a proposed construction project. Cost estimation is important in the preliminary stage of any construction works. It provides the same function with the standardised work section in a building independent of quantity. rehabilitation. Overview of cost analysis Elemental cost analysis (ECA) is one of the most widely used cost estimation techniques. 1999. to further improve the competence of quantity surveyors in this area. The listing of George Town and Malacca as UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the year 2008 has increased the amount of conservation work in these sites. The lack of information. research on conservation works. (2007) pinpoint that building conservation practice is relatively new in Malaysia compared to some other countries. the cost data to be used during cost estimation should be reliable and updated so that the cost estimation can reflect the reality (Tas and Yaman. In general. repair and maintenance. They are also required at various levels of detail as the project proceeds through the design and construction stages (Ashworth. reconstruction. Hence. 1996). Seeley. However. neglect. preservation. 1988). may cause the estimated cost budget to miss out work items that are pertinent in conservation projects. and the high cost of maintenance (Kamal et al. which are costing documents prepared by the quantity surveyor based on standard methods of Cost format for building conservation 409 .

five of which cover the building. It must also be noted that there are some special works to be considered when preparing a cost budget for conservation works. costing information and documents pertaining to conservation work is still lacking. It is hoped that with the new format. Methodology of study A quantitative approach was adopted in this research. which may not be widely available. 1999) that contains a detailed breakdown of all the elements used for a project. As the research was carried out in George Town. the existing cost analysis format is not suitable for conservation projects because of the differences in part of the scope of work between conservation and new building works. such as “roof and finishes”. especially where the damaged parts are interrelated to each other. walls. Since the current cost analysis format commonly used in the industry was designed for new building works. there is the risk of missing out important cost elements that are specific to conservation works and that are not found in new building works. it is common to see certain work items combined and categorised under the same element. Lack of understanding in conservation works on the part of quantity surveyors often leads to difficulty in preparing a cost budget. which is the roof followed by ceiling. where these work items are separated as roof structure and roof finishes. although conservation of heritage buildings has been ongoing for many years.SS 28. floors. 1996). such as roof and roof finishes. A BQ is a major source of cost information (Ferry et al. In Malaysia the current standard method of measurement in use is SMM2. and vice versa. The standard form of element list is divided into six groups. Hence. Issues in cost estimates of conservation works Cost estimating for a building conservation project is a challenging task due to the lack of information on the cost. many of the issues mentioned above may be resolved. According to the Penang Municipal Council. The reason for combining work items under the same category in building conservation works is to make it easier and convenient for the contractor to appoint sub-contractors or specialists to restore the specific parts of the building. a need has arisen for a new form of cost analysis that can cater for the specificity of work in a building conservation project. The work could also commence from the exterior of the building to the interior. In other words. Work items specifically for conservation works such as archaeological excavation. there are approximately 410 .. some work items frequently used in conservation works are not used in new building works. 2009). Owing to the different nature of work between conservation and new building. A quantity surveyor essentially modifies or adapts information or standards from new construction works to be used for conservation works (Lee. Restoration work commences from the highest point of the building. conservation works differs with new building works in terms of the sequence of work. Also. Penang. scientific testing and analysis and temporary roofing should be included. when compared to new building works. columns and ends at the foundation works. In Malaysia.5 measurement. While this method is not totally incorrect. while the sixth covers external works (Seeley. complexity of the method of conservation and also the difficulty in sourcing the required materials. respectively. the project samples collected are conservation projects from the same city.

700 buildings in Penang that are listed as heritage buildings either in Category I or II by the state government. As such. a total of 16 buildings with distinct building classification were selected for this research. These buildings were selected because the cost documentations are proper and complete with breakdown information that is in compliance with the study criteria mentioned above. there are not many buildings that have been properly restored. collected either from the consultant firms or contractor firms that were involved in the selected projects. Although there are thousands of heritage buildings in George Town. The data extracted from all the BQs was then collated and processed using descriptive statistics to obtain No. The selection of the projects is based on one important criteria: the project must have a complete breakdown of costing information. List of project samples used in this study . the main cost items were extracted from the BQ in the contract document. The details of the project samples for this study are as shown in Table I. From the costing data of each selected project. Data for the research were extracted from the BQs.3. Thus the completeness of the BQ used is critical in this research to identify the cost items that are pertinent to building conservation works. A variety of buildings was chosen to ensure that the proposed ECA format would essentially capture the various variables found in the different building types and the final product can be used for the various types of buildings. commercial buildings. religious buildings. many projects are not selected due to the incomplete costing information. the findings are postulated to be reflective of the building conservation scenario in Malaysia as heritage buildings in Malaysia are quite similar in typology and construction. and government buildings. The selected heritage buildings are prestigious and major conservation projects in Penang. Although only conservation projects in George Town were selected. Amongst those that are restored. private houses. A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Public/private Private Private Private Private Private Public Public Public Private Private Private Public Public Public Private Public Building category Commercial Commercial Private house Government Commercial Religious Government Religious Shop Religious Commercial Government Government Government Commercial Government Cost format for building conservation 411 Table I. The selected buildings in this study comprise of shops. The percentage of each type of buildings is indicated in Figure 1. as some projects did not follow the full tendering procedures. Both consultant and contractor would have the same set of documents so there would be no risk of discrepancies although the data came from different sources.

i. The findings of this research are presented in a combination of tabular and graphical form with supporting discussions in the following sections of the paper. However. Results and discussion Analysis conducted on the data collected found that the top ranked work item is “Partition. it is also found that external works contribute a . The work items were duly identified and ranked according to the frequency of their occurrence in the selected projects. “Staircase finishes and balustrades” and “External wall finishes” are on the bottom rung of the most common work items in building conservation works. and “External walls. The top ten work items identified for building conservation works are found to be also common for new building works. Common structural repairs of work items such as staircases. windows”.e. repairs in other parts of the building may cause some cracking to a wall. doors. “Internal wall finishes” and “Ceiling and finishes” are ranked third among all the work items. thus requiring remedial works to the wall during restoration works. “Floor finishes”. Percentages of types of building studied the frequency of each of the work items. internal doors and ironmongeries” (100 per cent) while demolition works has the lowest frequency score with a percentage of 75 per cent. “Roof finishes and rainwater goods”. Usually.SS 28. Likewise. As a wall is connected to most other elements such as a column and beam. Hence. and thus requires remedial works. ceiling or floor. These work items are then grouped according to the appropriate group component as shown in Figure 2. The same is also true for the floor element. a frequency of 81 per cent indicates that they are still important work items. the staircase and railings are badly decayed or damaged and have to be totally replaced. This indicates that demolition may not occur in all building conservation works. A total of 40 work items that are frequently used in conservation works were identified and are listed in Table II in descending order according to the frequency of occurrence. the roof is always badly damaged due to exposure to weather for prolonged periods. Meanwhile.5 412 Figure 1. walls and columns are found to have a higher frequency in all projects. with a frequency of 63 per cent. In some projects. “Roof construction”. these two items are also in the top ten most frequently occurring work items in conservation projects. On the other hand there are three items that are ranked second. The analysis from the first part were then rearranged and grouped into an appropriate cost component according to the building function to produce the proposed elemental cost format. having a frequency of 88 per cent.

No. doors. The study found that close to half of the 16 projects have included works of electrical and lighting installation. foal drainage. internal doors Ironmongeries Roof finishes and rainwater goods Floor finishes External walls. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 Work Items Partitions. manholes Adjoining property wall/boundary Pavers Flooring Fire fighting Fence wall Landscaping fa 16 16 15 15 15 14 14 13 13 13 13 12 11 11 11 10 10 8 8 7 7 7 7 6 5 5 5 5 4 4 4 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 2 2 Cost format for building conservation 413 Note: aFrequency Table II. However. . the data collected did not clearly indicate the distribution of work items for external works. windows Internal wall finishes Ceiling and finishes Roof construction External wall finishes Staircase finishes and balustrades Painting Demolitions/dismantling works Plumbing and sanitary installation Scientific testing and analysis Decorations (cornice) Timber roof trusses Staircase construction Sundries Electrical system installation Roof covering Upper floor Anti-termite treatment Substructure Structural steelwork Furniture and fittings Walkways. as well as fire fighting for safety purposes. Ranking of work items in conservation works small portion to the cost of conservation. The restoration of historical buildings often includes the installation of new electrical services including lighting installations and fire alarm systems to comply with current safety regulations. thus hindering further analysis of this particular work item. etc. driveways. sump and culverts Water and sewer mains. car parks. Lighting system Frame Waterproofing Security and sound system Fencing and gate Archaeology excavation Surface water drains.

SS 28. all the work items identified earlier will be grouped under its relevant elemental component. those items with the same functional use are grouped under the same elemental component. These tests included “Anti-termite”. In total. the grouping of items for conservation work are also rather similar to the grouping for new building works. Table III shows the grouping of 40 work items according to their functional use in a building. From the 40 work items identified earlier. It must be clearly noted that the percentages shown above only represented work items that are frequently used in conservation projects and it does not depict the significant costs of the work items in conservation project. 14 major elements were formed from the rearrangement of the work items into the relevant elemental component. In order to determine a new elemental format for conservation works. The study showed that 11 out of 16 projects had conducted scientific testing on the buildings to determine the defective works. Having said that. the study also found that there are some elemental components that are not the same with new building works. “Salt contamination and rising damp”. “HABS dilapidation survey” and “XRF test”. Frequency of work items in conservation projects The item “Scientific testing and analysis” could also be found in most conservation projects. doors and windows” is combined and listed as an item due to special consideration for building conservation works where the restoration works for . “External wall. “Timber test”. As the works for new build and conservation are quite similar. This is due to the requirement set by the local authorities that required the investigation of defective works in a building before restoration work. Other tests may also be conducted based on the requirement set down by the project conservationist. For example.5 414 Figure 2. with some exceptions.

doors & windows Internal wall. the combination of these two elements as an item is suggested as above. Grouping of work items these three elements are inter-related. driveways.No. The same analysis was also carried out on the preliminaries section but only five projects of the 16 samples were used due to the lack of breakdown in costing information in most of the samples. From the analysis. doors. windows Fence wall Painting Partitions. manholes Fire fighting Adjoining property wall/boundary Landscaping Plumbing and sanitary installation Archaeology excavation Scientific testing and analysis Anti-termite treatment Waterproofing Elemental component Demolition works Roof and rainwater goods Cost format for building conservation 415 Floor structure and finishes Ceiling and finishes External wall. such as doors. etc. sump & culverts Water and sewer mains. column and finishes Staircase and balustrade Structural works Sundries Furniture and fittings M&E works External works Services Conservation treatment Table III. These works include “Temporary water and electricity supplies”. this reason also applies to the item “Internal walls and doors”. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 Work items Demolitions/dismantling works Roof covering Roof construction Timber roof trusses Roof finishes & rainwater goods Flooring construction Floor finishes Ceiling and finishes External wall finishes External walls. Pavers Fencing and gate Surface water drains. Thus. Likewise. accounting for 16 per cent of all preliminaries items. foal drainage. doors Internal wall finishes Ironmongeries Decorations Staircase construction Staircase finishes and balustrades Structural steelwork Upper floor Frame Substructure Sundries Furniture and fittings Electrical system Lighting system Security and sound system Walkways. where the deterioration of a wall may also affect its surroundings. . car parks. temporary works appear to be the most frequently occurring work items.

which are essential before conservation works begins. “Temporary roads” and “Temporary lighting”. These work items are required before and during the execution of work to ensure the safety and stability of the building. before.SS 28. we found that four of the five sample projects had included this item in the preliminaries section. It is designed on the sequence of works for conservation works. From the study. architect or structural engineer to determine the level of defective works and to provide suggestions of remedial works to repair damaged items. and (6) New building works. The documentation requires a building analysis report. Other preliminaries items include the preparation of scaled photographs. Scientific testing analysis and reports of the proposed building to be conserved is prepared by a conservationist. “General scaffolding and staging temporary”. A summary of the research and documentation works as required by the National Museum Antiquities Department for building conservation works is shown in Table IV. it is concluded that the preliminaries work items for conservation works have some similarities with new building works except for some additional items that are only applicable to a conservation project. The recommended ECA format for building conservation works consists of six main portions: (1) Preliminaries. the restoration begins from the roof and proceeds downwards to the foundation works. These new items include the preparation of a dilapidation survey or HABS report. and original materials are also recorded. during and after the conservation works. “Research and documentation” is also an important part of conservation works because it is a tool to provide proper documentation of the conservation works. in accordance with the same functional use of the items. It is derived from the literature review findings and the analyses conducted. A report is prepared in the three different stages of work. scientific testing and report. It shows that most projects did strictly follow the local authority’s guidelines in conserving a historical building. colour scheme testing and video recordings. Although this is not a standard guideline by which the work for conservation should be measured. photographs. From our study. In the same guidelines. illustrated with drawings. the study proposes a format for cost estimates and analysis based on an elemental form for conservation works. The condition of the buildings. the preparation of Historical Architectural Building Survey (HABS) report is also required. defective works. (2) Research and documentation. it is practical to follow the work items sequence as listed in Table V when preparing measurement and cost estimation for conservation . (4) Temporary works. From the above analysis. In conservation works. The proposed format is explained in the next section.5 416 “Temporary telephone”. This is in line with the local standard guidelines. (5) Conservation and restoration works. and other relevant details. Proposed new ECA format for conservation works Table V shows the proposed elemental cost analysis (ECA) format for conservation works. (3) Dismantlement works.

and therefore it is listed under a separate group. Considering the various types of temporary works involved. and after conservation works Preparation of building analysis report in the form of photography. scientific testing.No. Research and documentation list projects. etc. Hence. Special/additional items 1 Scientific/chemical analysis Work description Scientific testing on: – Archeological excavation – Local temperature and relative humidity – Timber – Species and strength – Paint colour scheme – Compressive strength Using datum point/datum line Using grid line 1 m £ 1 m for photograph Three main stages: before. 12 work items are listed in accordance with the sequence of conservation works which are work items 5A to 5L. Scientific testing and building recording are listed under “Research and documentation”. . From the earlier analysis. Conservation works should always be accompanied by a detailed description of the building’s condition before. Preliminaries group items include any preliminaries works before the restoration works. all temporary works are grouped together under one heading for ease of reference. during. during and after restoration works. New building works in this proposed format are defined as additional new items installed to a restored building. The HABS documentation should contain photographs taken before. temporary works are found to be common work items in conservation works. for the part of Restoration works. drawing plan. as those items are placed in another main group separately as shown in Table V. but do not include scientific testing and temporary works. during and after the conservation works and document the conservation works in every stage. Scientific testing which is carried out by conservators or architects on defective works and remedial works undertaken are also proposed to be listed under the “Research and documentation” work group. Colour scheme testing to determine the original painting of building’s wall A requirement set by the Museum and Antiquity Department of Malaysia In-depth analyses of the building defects Determine the probable causes and propose methods and techniques of building conservation Record all details of the buildings as well as the process of conservation work for future reference Cost format for building conservation 417 2 3 Preparation of scaled photograph Preparation of Historical Architectural Building Survey (HABS) 4 5 Colour scheme testing Preparation of dilapidation survey 6 Video recordings Table IV. Demolition work is one of the major work items for conservation works and it cannot be allocated together with other work items due to the different nature of the work. and scaled photographs are used for this purpose.

Preparation of Historical Architectural Building Survey (HABS) 2D. 5C. Preparation of dilapidation survey report 2F. 5H. Summary and conclusion Owing to the limitations of the existing ECA format. Other associated work 5A. Temporary works 5.SS 28. 5F. In this respect. Colour scheme testing 2E. 5J. Feedback is needed to further improve the format to ensure that is has captured all the pertinent cost components and is able to produce an estimate that is a true reflection of the work involved in conservation works for a heritage building even before more detailed information is available. which is a modified version based on new construction works. New additional works The way forward Having derived a new elemental cost analysis format for conservation work. Restoration works Table V. New building works 6A. 5D. column and finishes Ceiling and finishes Staircase and balustrade Doors and windows Structural works Fixtures and fittings Decoration element Conservation treatment Services 418 3. Preliminaries 2. Apportionment of the work items to an appropriate cost . Scaffolding 4B.5 1. 5G. the next step would be to test the use of this format in the industry. Temporary roofing 4C. Demolition works 4A. The current analysis format adopted by quantity surveyors may not be suitable to be used in conservation works due to incomplete and also some irrelevant work items. It is expected that the findings of the second study could be used to fine-tune the proposed conservation works ECA to ensure that important cost components are included in the proposed format. 5I. Thus this study has attempted to identify all the work items for conservation works and then to suggest a new classification of work items and finally propose a new format of ECA for building conservation works. Research and documentation 2A. Video recordings 3A. Scientific/chemical analysis 2B. a second study is now under way to capture the critical cost variables in conservation projects. there is a need for a new format of elemental cost analysis specifically for conservation works. Roof and rainwater goods Floor structure and finishes External wall. Dismantlement works 4. 5K. doors and windows Internal walls. Work items that are specific for conservation works are not included in the current ECA. Recommended cost analysis format for conservation works 6. 5B. 5L. 5E. Preparation of scaled photograph 2C.

Kamal. 8-11. Australia ICOMOS (1999). London.. 251-63. Australia ICOMOS. Cost Planning of Buildings. Building Engineer. 437-43. (2007). Brandon. Engineering.B. Or visit our web site for further details: www. M. “Maintenance approach of historic buildings in Malaysia context”.J. and Yaman. (2007). International News. Seeley. Burwood. Mustapa. and Abdul Karim.Y. Corresponding author Lim Yoke Mui can be contacted at: limyokemui@gmail. (2009). and Cost format for building conservation 419 To purchase reprints of this article please e-mail: reprints@emeraldinsight. K.K.D. The final outcome of this research is a new standard form for cost analysis formulated and recommended to the building industry for cost estimation or cost planning purposes for building conservation works. Tas. P.S. The inclusion of new work items and exclusion of some common work items are based on the frequency of the work items encountered in conservation works. (1999). L. A. H.. D. Universiti Sains Malaysia.. and Wahab. L.. pp. J. 4th ed. pp. Cost Studies of Buildings.H. Deakin University. Ahmad.. Penang. 3. Vol.. 7th ed. Lee. London.component has been done to form new groupings on the basis of the items having the same function. 12 No.emeraldinsight. (2005). “A building cost estimation model based on cost significant work packages”. S. Blackwell. unpublished MSc thesis. References Ashworth. Association of Building Engineers. Universiti Sains Malaysia. “Understanding the common building defects in Malaysia’s historic buildings”. Northampton. Construction and Architectural . Ferry. Longman Group. Macmillan.. Oxford. I. Building Economics. Penang. “Preparation of tender for building conservation work – current practices in Malaysia”. Proceedings of the International Conference on Built Environment in Developing Countries.G. Zaidi. A. (1996). 3-4 December. The Burra Charter: The Australia ICOMOS Charter for the Conservation of Places of Cultural Significance. Ab Wahab. (1988). Q. Kamal. Spring. pp. S. S.