The use of multiple variable linear regression analysis in architectural design

In general, cost prices depend on much more than one variable. To derive rules of the thumb for cost prices calculations we have to conduct multiple variable (linear) regression analysis of databases on past construction projects.

Most cost price calculation procedures, for instance SVINSK which is in use in our faculty, are based on regression analysis. The so-called REN-norms, giving cost price calculation rules, for office buildings, constitute another example. The term 'norms' is misleading, because they represent actually no more than averages of executed building projects. As a result, they tend to be used as norms for evaluating designs in terms of efficiency, ratios on usable floor space, etc.

The result is that, whenever an architect presents a design outside of these 'norms', it is considered to be 'inefficient' and undesirable. This criticism actually boils down to the requirement that each new design must be as 'efficient' as previous designs from other architects. When the new design, however, constitutes a new and appealing concept, the future owner of the building could very well be prepared to accept some 'inefficiency' in return. In such situations, the REN-norms are counter-productive to the realisation of innovative architectural designs.

The REN-norms should, therefore, never be used as 'norms' but only to provide the information as to how a design performs in terms of efficiency, use of floor space, etc. compared to what has been achieved by others in the past.

If cost price estimates should not be based on general 'norms' like REN-norms and SVINSK data, how can an architect make a cost price estimate other than by detailed offers from suppliers? To resolve this issue, we introduce the concept of 'architectural repertoire' which will be explained in the next section.

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