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UNIFORMAT II Elemental Classification for Building Specifications, Cost Estimating and Cost Analysis



R P. Charette, Harold E. Marshall


This report describes UNIFORMAT II, a format for classifying building elements and related sitework. Elements, as defined here, are major components common to most buildings. Elements usually perform a given function, regardless of the design specification, construction method, or materials used. Using UNIFORMAT II ensures consistency in the economic evaluation of building projects over time and from project to project, and it enhances project management and reporting at all stages of the building life cycle-planning, programming, design, construction, and operations and disposal. UNIFORMAT II is a significant advance over the original UNIFORMAT classification in that it has added elements and expanded descriptions of many existing elements. This report proposes a fourth level of definition to augment the three hierarchical levels provided in the original UNIFORMAT II. Starting from Level 1, the largest element grouping, it identifies Major Group Elements such as the Substructure, Shell, and Interiors. Level 2 subdivides Level 1 elements into Group Elements. The Shell, for example, includes the Superstructure, Exterior Closure, and Roofing. Level 3 breaks the Group Elements further into Individual Elements. Exterior Closure, for example, includes Exterior Walls, Exterior Windows, and Exterior Doors. The proposed Level 4 breaks the individual elements into vet smaller sub-elements. Standard Foundation sub-elements, for example, include wall foundations, column foundations, perimeter drainage, and insulation. A major benefit of performing an economic analysis based on an elemental framework instead of on a product-based classification is the reduction in time and costs for evaluating alternatives at the early design stage. This encourages more economic analyses and more economically efficient choices among buildings and building elements. Other UNIFORMAT II benefits include providing a standardized format for collecting and analyzing historical data to use in estimating and butgeting future projects; providing a checklist for the cost estimation process as well as the creavity phase of the value engineering job plan; providing a basis for training in costestimation; facilitating communications among members of a project team regarding the scope of work and costs in each discipline; and establishing a database for automated cost estimating. This report focuses on the benefits of applying UNIFORMAT II in design specifications, cost estimating, and cost analysis. A proposed summary sheet for presenting building and sitework elemental costs with cost analysis parameters provides an efficient tool for communicating economic information to decision makers in a quickly understood, concise format that helps them make project choices. Owners, developers, programmers, cost planners, project managers, schedulers, architects and engineers, operating and maintenance staff, manufacturers, specification writers, and educators will find the classification useful.
NIST Interagency/Internal Report (NISTIR) - 6389
Report Number


analysis, building cost estimating, building economics, cost control, cost planning, design cost, design economics


Charette, R. and Marshall, H. (1999), UNIFORMAT II Elemental Classification for Building Specifications, Cost Estimating and Cost Analysis, NIST Interagency/Internal Report (NISTIR), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD (Accessed March 4, 2024)
Created September 30, 1999, Updated October 12, 2021