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Time-cost relationships of building construction project in Korea


Long Le-Hoai Young Dai Lee

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Facilities, Vol. 27 Iss 13/14 pp. 549 - 559
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Time-cost relationships of
building construction project in
Korea
Long Le-Hoai

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Interdisciplinary Program of Construction Engineering and Management,


Pukyong National University, Busan, South Korea, and

Time-cost
relationships

549
Received March 2009
Accepted July 2009

Young Dai Lee


Division of Civil Engineering, Pukyong National University, Busan, South Korea
Abstract
Purpose Time is an important factor in any project, especially in construction projects. Although
using detailed scheduling techniques is unavoidable, a model to predict or benchmark time performance
has interested many researchers. For an exploratory purpose, this paper aims to investigate the time-cost
relationship proposed by Bromilow with data from construction projects in Korea.
Design/methodology/approach The data are collected from 34 historical building projects in
Korea. Construction cost is adjusted using a building price index. Analysis is carried out on variety of
project characteristics.
Findings It is shown that a time-cost relationship is applicable to the Korean construction industry.
Further analysis indicates that the original Bromilow time-cost model is not the best fit regression
form, and alternative models are proposed.
Research limitations/implications The data are limited to a small sample of 34 building
projects. This limitation arises because of the data collection approach, which is direct contact with
historical project documents supplied by construction firms.
Originality/value Models from this study can serve as a reference tool for practitioners in the
early stages of building projects in Korea. The results from this study are not intended to reject or
replace detailed construction scheduling techniques.
Keywords Costs, Construction industry, Project management, Time-based management, South Korea
Paper type Research paper

Introduction
Time is always one of the most important criteria of successful project management. A
realistic schedule is a critical success factor that has appeared in many publications
focusing on research into success factors (Fortune and White, 2006). Many construction
projects in Korea have faced various problems. In some projects, delay is one of the
major problems (Acharya et al., 2006). Schedule delays can cause cost overrun. Lee
(2008), studied 161 construction projects in Korea, including road, rail, airport and
ports, and found that the total cost of overrun was $11,986 million. According to Lee
(2008), one of the key causes of cost overrun was delays.
Even though the time schedule in construction projects is a factor that depends
heavily on the skill of the time estimator, applied technology, the financial plan and
many other factors, many attempts to model construction durations have been realised.
Bromilow (1969) first developed the equation T KC B . This expression was used to

Facilities
Vol. 27 No. 13/14, 2009
pp. 549-559
q Emerald Group Publishing Limited
0263-2772
DOI 10.1108/02632770910996379

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550

assess the project time in terms of project cost. Here, T is the projects duration from
the date of site possession to practical completion, C is the final cost of the project
adjusted to constant labour and material prices, K is a constant describing the general
level of time performance for a unit of C, and B is a constant describing how the time
performance was affected by project size as measured by the cost. Application of
Bromilows time-cost model (the BTC model) in estimating and benchmarking the
project duration has been vigorous. However, some studies have suggested that
application of this model is unsuitable.
The objective of this paper is to carry out an exploratory study to examine the BTC
model in a Korean context. The data pool is comprised of 34 completed building
construction projects. The study was done to establish a model derived from the
original Bromilow time-cost relationship that can be used to predict project duration or
to benchmark project performance. Furthermore, an effort was also made to determine
whether a better fit relationship holds in Korea.
Literature review
A literature study was carried out to review the related research. Since Bromilow
(1969), who first introduced the time-cost relationship, many studies have been
performed for either building projects or civil engineering projects around the world.
Bromilow and Henderson (1976), Bromilow et al. (1980, 1988), Sidwell (1984), Walker
(1995), Ng et al. (2001) and Love et al. (2005) calibrated the BTC model in Australia.
Kaka and Price (1991), in the UK, and Chan and Kumaraswamy (1995) and Chan (1999),
in Hong Kong, investigated the application of BTC model. Elsewhere in the world,
Chen and Huang (2006) studied in the model in Taiwan, Chan (2001) and Endut et al.
(2006) examined it in Malaysia, Ogunsemi and Jagboro (2006) developed the model in
Nigeria, and Hoffman et al. (2007) re-examined the relationship in the USA. Moreover,
Le-Hoai et al. (2009) tried to fit empirical building project data for the BTC model in
Vietnam.
Bromilow (1969), Bromilow et al. (1980, 1988), Sidwell (1984) and Walker (1995)
found cost to be a key determinant of time performance in Australia. Ng et al. (2001),
after testting and refitting the BTC model with a new set of data, compared the
findings with previous studies in Australia found that the length of unit construction
time changed over time periods. They concluded that there was an improvement in
construction speed over the three decades from Bromilows (1969) study. Love et al.
(2005) performed an analysis with a data pool of 161 building projects between project
duration, project type, and procurement method, and indicated that cost was a poor
predictor of time performance. These researchers also proposed an alternative model to
that proposed by Bromilow (1969).
Kaka and Price (1991) applied the time-cost relationship not only to building
projects but also to civil projects and found that this relationship remained the same
but the coefficients of the equation changed with the project type. Kumaraswamy and
Chan (1995) conducted a survey for building, housing, and civil engineering projects in
Hong Kong. From their findings, they postulated that both types of project can use the
model introduced by Bromilow. Chan (1999), in a Hong Kong study, revealed that the
time-cost relationship is a convenient tool for construction practitioners in either public
or private projects. Chan (2001) conducted a similar study for public sector projects
between the late 1980s and the early 1990s in Malaysia and introduced an applicable

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BTC model. In another study, Endut et al. (2006) showed that there was no evidence to
suggest that all project parameters follow the BTC model. The data sample of Endut
et al. (2006) was collected from projects implemented from 1994 to 2005.
Ogunsemi and Jagboro (2006) confirmed that Bromilows model was not suitable for
the Nigerian situation, so they developed an improved model using a piecewise model
to achieve better predictive abilities. Chen and Huang (2006) showed that only
private-sector projects obey the original BTC model. In this study, local government
project durations followed the form of the private sector equation but they employed
the floor area factor instead of the construction cost. Hoffman et al. (2007) focused on
facility projects funded by the Air Force and concluded that the BTC model was
significant and explained a moderate portion of the variability within the data
collected.
It is obvious that the parameters of BTC model are not identical over time periods,
markets, and project characteristics. The fitness of the relationship proposed by
Bromilow changed from market to market. This argument was presented in a previous
study by Ng et al. (2001). Nevertheless, application of the BTC model in estimating and
benchmarking the project duration has been vigorous. It is likely to help construction
managers and professionals in their field. It would be also useful to verify if such
relationship exists in Korea.

Methodology
Empirical data about the actual time and costs of completed building projects were
collected. These data were processed using a computer software package called SPSS.
Projects that had missing data were eliminated from the analysis. This study applied
the fundamental BTC equation developed by Bromilow (1969). The BTC model, i.e.
T KC B , was been converted into a natural logarithmic form, i.e.
ln T ln K B ln C.
The number of working days and billions of Korean won (KRW) are the units of
T and C, respectively. It should be noted that, in this paper, T is the actual time from
date of site possession to completion and C is the final construction cost. The next step
was to inspect other time-cost forms that could improve predictability.
As the empirical cost data have different points of time, all costs must be adjusted to
a common base of time. A Korean building cost index (BCI) was employed in this study
for the cost constant factor. All values of cost were adjusted to a base of year 2000
(BCI 100). The coefficient of determination (R 2) and the adjusted coefficient of
determination (adjusted R 2) are used to indicate the goodness of fit of the models
derived from the empirical data. If R 2 1, all the data fit to regression line, and if
R 2 0, no linear relationship exists between observed and predicted data. Adjusted
R 2 is a modification of R 2 that adjusts the number of exploratory terms in a model.
This coefficient is useful when the calculation is based on a sample, not on the entire
population.
A t-test was applied to identify the cases if there was significant difference between
the observed and predicted values at the 5 per cent level and regression analysis
between the observed and predicted durations were used to validate the proposed
models.

Time-cost
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Sample characteristics
Data about the time and cost of completed building projects were for analysis. Data
from 34 building projects were received and analysed in this study. These projects
were completed within eight years from 2001 to 2008. The unadjusted contract values
of these projects ranged from KRW1.2bn to greater KRW100bn. The sample was
categorised into several groups as shown in Table I. The majority of the projects were
located in Busan and the rest were from other cities. Of 34 projects, in the project sector
category, public sector projects comprised 53 per cent and private sector projects
comprised 47 per cent. In the project type category, residential projects, commercial
projects and others accounted for 38 per cent, 24 per cent and 38 per cent,
respectively. Regarding the tendering method, 65 per cent of data were from open
tendering while negotiated projects comprised 35 per cent.
Levenes tests indicated the equality of variance of construction time in each
classification (all p values . 0.1), and so the precondition for the ANOVA test was
satisfied. ANOVA tests for sector categories (F 4:330, p 0:046), project type
(F 6:113, p 0:019) and tender method (F 8:708, p 0:001) groups, respectively,
resulted in significant differences between construction duration means. It was
concluded that time performance was significantly different between categories, so the
analysis could be conducted separately on these categories.
Model development
In this section, analyses of the time-cost model produced by Bromilow (1969) were
performed between sectors, tendering methods and project types. Alternative time-cost
relationship models to the original relationship developed by Bromilow were examined.
The data sample was divided into categories relating to public sector, private sector,
open tender, negotiated tender, residential project, commercial project, and others.
BTC model
Using the regression tool in the SPSS V.13 software package to fit Bromilows
relationship to the sample data, the values of coefficients in this time-cost relationship
were computed. In the case of cost, billion KRWs were used in this model instead of the
millions of dollars used in the original BTC relationship. The BTC relationships for
various project sectors, tender methods and project types are shown in Table II.
Applying the BTC model, the results of the computer output for each possible case are
summarised in Table III.
Classification

Category

Sector

Public
Private
Residential
Commercial
Others
Busan
Others
Open
Negotiated

Project type

Location
Table I.
Summary of project
characteristics

Tender method

Number of projects

Percentage

18
16
13
8
13
12
22
22
12

53
47
38
24
38
35
65
65
35

Category
Sector

All
Public
Private

T 341C 0:175
T 359C 0:166
T 220C 0:267

Tender method

Open
Negotiated

T 366C 0:156
T 238C 0:251

Project type

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BTC relationship

Residential
Commercial
Others

Time-cost
relationships

553

0:158

T 369C
T 225C 0:268
T 386C 0:124

According to Table III, the overall model is significant (F 61, p 0:000) which
explains 65.7 per cent of the variance in construction duration within the data. The
regression coefficients ln(K) and B are both also significant (p 0:000). The data pool
was analysed for each possible project case. The results in Table III show that all other
models are statistically significant at p 0:000 except the Others project type
(p 0:084). All parameters of these models are also significant at p , 0:1 for the
Others project type and at p 0:000 for the remaining project types. Except for the
Others project type (R 2 0:246, which is considered low). R 2 values ranging from
0.530 to 0.923 were considered good in terms of the goodness of fit of the models
derived from the empirical data. The above analyses indicated that the original BTC
model could also be applied in a Korean context.
It is obvious that K is the expected duration of a project with a contract value of
KRW1bn (K T when C 1). Considering C 1 in the equation, it takes average
341 working days to complete a KRW1bn building project in Korea. Comparing
between public and private sector projects, a public sector project needs 359 days to
finish while a private sector project requires a shorter time of 220 days. Residential
projects take a longer time (369 days) than commercial projects (225 days). Kaka and
Price (1991) suggested that private clients (for example, commercial buildings) have to
complete their projects as soon as possible in order to start business and get returns on
investment. Regarding the analysis as it relates to tendering methods, open tendering
takes 366 working days longer than negotiated tender (238 days) to finish a
hypothesized KRW1bn project. This case is similar to the research of Kaka and Price
(1991) and Endut et al. (2006).
Other time-cost relationships
In an attempt to find a model that possibly explains a larger portion of variance in
construction duration in terms of construction cost, several forms of independent
variable cost (C) were employed with time (T) as the dependent variable to analyse the
data. The models investigated were: linear regression (LIN), logarithmic regression
(LOG), inverse regression (INV), quadratic regression (QUA), cubic regression (CUB),
compound regression (COM), S-curve regression (SCU), growth regression (GRO), and
exponential regression (EXP). Table IV shows the formulae for these regression models.
Nine different regression types were investigated to identify the best fit time-cost
model to the empirical data by comparing the R 2 of the models. The coefficients of
determination (R 2) of all regression functions are tabulated in Table V. It can be seen

Table II.
Bromilows relationship

Others

Commercial

Residential

Negotiated

Open

Private

Public

All

B
341.28 *
(11.148)
358.75 *
(8.981)
220.41 *
(4.757)
365.85 *
(9.012)
237.98 *
(5.461)
368.73 *
(8.264)
224.80 *
(7.323)
385.71 *
(0.939)

0.175 *
(7.836)
0.166 *
(5.100)
0.267 *
(5.817)
0.156 *
(4.970)
0.251 *
(6.508)
0.158 *
(5.997)
0.268 *
(9.224)
0.124 * *
(1.897)
0.496

0.967

0.875

0.899

0.743

0.841

0.787

0.811

0.246

0.934

0.766

0.809

0.553

0.707

0.619

0.657

R2

0.178

0.923

0.744

0.790

0.530

0.686

0.595

0.647

Adjusted R 2

Notes: Figures in parentheses are t-values; * significant at p , 0:000; * *significant at p , 0:1

Project type

Tender method

Sector

Table III.
Summary of BTC
regression results
ln(K)

0.284

0.094

0.067

0.140

0.205

0.147

0.212

0.188

Standard error

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0.000
(35.958)
0.000
(85.079)
0.084
(3.598)

0.000
(24.699)
0.000
(42.360)

0.000
(61.402)
0.000
(26.015)
0.000
(33.841)

Significance level

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Regression model

Equation

Linear regression (LIN)


Logarithmic regression (LOG)
Inverse regression (INV)
Quadratic regression (QUA)
Cubic regression (CUB)
Compound regression (COM)
S-curve regression (SCU)
Growth regression (GRO)
Exponential regression (EXP)

T
T
T
T
T
T
T
T
T

Time-cost
relationships

b0 b1 C
b0 b1 ln C
b0 b1 =C
b0 b1 C b2 C 2
b0 b1 C b2 C 2 b3 C 3
b0 bC1
eb0 b1 =C
eb0 b1 C
b0 eb1 C

Note: bi denote constants

Model

All

Sector
Public

Private

Open

LIN
LOG
INV
QUA
CUB
COM
SCU
GRO
EXP

0.764
0.739
0.203
0.801
0.815
0.637
0.174
0.637
0.637

0.740
0.725
0.164
0.781
0.808
0.601
0.132
0.601
0.601

0.731
0.774
0.590
0.778
0.811
0.595
0.583
0.595
0.595

0.694
0.642
0.153
0.758
0.760
0.547
0.126
0.547
0.547

Tender
Negotiated
0.775
0.854
0.882
0.800
0.880
0.685
0.887
0.685
0.685

Residential
0.874
0.719
0.392
0.874
0.889
0.872
0.449
0.872
0.872

Project type
Commercial
0.724
0.964
0.927
0.830
0.985
0.623
0.976
0.623
0.623

555
Table IV.
Other forms of time-cost
relationship

Others
0.539
0.380
0.034
0.568
0.599
0.373
0.013
0.373
0.373

that the CUB regression has the best fit (R 2 0:815) with overall project. This means
that 81.5 per cent of variance in construction duration could be explained in terms of
cost with CUB regression. For both public and private projects, the CUB regressions
also yielded the highest R 2 (0.808 and 0.811 respectively). A similar situation happened
in the project type case. For residential, commercial and Other project types, the CUB
regressions were the most suitable with R 2 values of 0.889, 0.985 and 0.599,
respectively. For tendering method, CUB regression yielded the highest R 2 of 0.760 for
open tender projects, while SCU regression was the most appropriate model with an R 2
of 0.887. From the results of this analysis, the BTC relationship is also found to be valid
for the Korean case, but it is not the best relationship in terms of explaining the largest
variability of time in terms of cost.
Table VI presents detailed results of the regression analyses and equations for the
best-fit models for time prediction in terms of cost for each category. As shown in
Table VI, all models were significant, with p-values less than 0.05.
Validation
The models in Table VI were then validated with a t-test to detect the significant
differences between the observed and predicted values at the 5 per cent level. Table VII
shows that the mean observed duration and mean predicted duration were very
similar, with insignificant t-test results. The last two columns in Table VII contain the

Table V.
R 2 of other regression
forms

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556

Table VI.
Best fit regression models
analysis results

Table VII.
Model validation

Category
All
(CUB)
Public
(CUB)
Private
(CUB)
Open
(CUB)
Negotiated
(SCU)
Residential
(CUB)
Commercial
(CUB)
Others
(CUB)

Adjusted
R2

Standard
error

0.903

0.797

84.937

0.899

0.767

95.841

0.900

0.763

75.472

0.872

0.721

92.184

0.942

0.875

0.108

0.943

0.852

38.895

0.992

0.973

32.413

0.774

0.466

125.164

Significance
level
Relationship
0.000
(44.078)
0.000
(19.641)
0.000
(17.128)
0.000
(19.050)
0.000
(78.111)
0.000
(23.985)
0.000
(85.922)
0.035
(4.488)

T 446:28 5:573C 2 0:029C 2 6:13E 2 5C 3


T 442:24 7:05C 2 0:042C 2 8:93E 2 5C 3
T 353:1 8:185C 2 0:055C 2 1:39E 2 4C 3
T 460:49 4:76C 2 0:019C 2 3:21E 2 5C 3
T e6:80628:103=C
T 545:19 3:375C 2 0:02C 2 5:96E 2 5C 3
T 269:4 12:644C 2 0:082C 2 1:68E 2 4C 3
T 517:85 2 4:616C 0:193C 2 2 0:001C 3

Note: Figures in parentheses are t-values; T is in working days; C is in billions of won

Category

Mean duration with 95 per cent


confidence
Observed
Predicted

t-test significant?

RMSE

MAPE (%)

All

687:06 ^ 65:71

687:06 ^ 59:33

Not significant

79.78

11.64

Sector
Public
Private

626:67 ^ 98:72
755:00 ^ 82:67

626:66 ^ 88:73
755:00 ^ 74:33

Not significant
Not significant

61.50
44.83

13.71
8.38

Tender method
Open
Negotiated

632:18 ^ 77:32
787:67 ^ 112:37

632:18 ^ 67:42
785:47 ^ 110:07

Not significant
Not significant

67.07
37.31

12.55
7.37

Project type
Residential
Commercial
Others

761:46 ^ 61:05
794:50 ^ 165:71
564:54 ^ 103:48

761:46 ^ 57:55
794:50 ^ 164:55
546:53 ^ 80:11

Not significant
Not significant
Not significant

20.01
11.11
64.39

3.96
2.37
17.33

root mean square errors (RMSE) and mean absolute percentage errors (MAPE) of each
category. In addition, Table VIII shows the regression results between the observed
and predicted durations. According to Table VIII, all values of R 2 are high (larger than
0.75), the intercepts are very close to 0, and the slopes are close to 1. These results show
that the equations in Table VI derived from empirical data are likely to predict the
project duration in terms of project cost.
Limitations
The data were limited to a small sample of 34 building projects, which might have
influenced the models predictability. Due to the limited size of the data pool, this study
could not include other types of building projects. It may also have possibly caused the
moderate explanation of variance in the Others project type (adjusted R 2 0:499).

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Category

R2

All

0.903

0.815

Sector
Public
Private

0.899
0.900

Tender method
Open
Negotiated
Project type
Residential
Commercial
Others

Intercept

Slope

Significant?

1.48E-12

Not significant

0.808
0.811

21.00E-12
8.46E-12

1
1

Not significant
Not significant

0.872
0.930

0.76
0.865

1.66E-12
41.868

1
0.949

Not significant
Not significant

0.943
0.992
0.774

0.889
0.985
0.599

2.09E-12
23.00E-12
6.81E-11

1
1
1

Not significant
Not significant
Not significant

This moderate explanation was considered reasonable given the nature of the projects,
particularly in this case when buildings vary widely in design and purpose of use
(Hoffman et al., 2007). Although the models proposed in Table VI could explain more
than two thirds to three quarters of the variance in the construction time, the remaining
variance could probably be explained by different relevant drivers of time performance
that were not incorporated in this study. Also, this purpose of this study was
exploratory; it was not intended to reject or replace detailed construction scheduling
techniques, as stated in Hoffman et al. (2007).
Conclusion
Data collected from 34 building projects in Korea were used to fit the BTC relationship.
The results showed that the original form proposed by Bromilow could be applied to
Korean building projects. An investigation into other forms of regression to find a
better fitting model indicated that the CUB model could be used to forecast the duration
for public, private, open tender, residential, and commercial projects, while the SCU
model was suitable to predict the duration of negotiated tender projects.
The performance of models differed according to the project characteristics;
however, all models produce good predictability, with at least 70 per cent of variance in
construction time being explained. Despite some limitations, the study could possibly
be of benefit to researchers and practitioners in the Korean construction industry. The
results provide a reference tool in comparison with traditional methods. It is better to
use this tool in the early stages of a project.
It is obvious that the formats of regression model differed according to project
types, additional researches could be conducted to examine deeper into this field
through overcoming the limitations presented above. Moreover the incorporation of the
other factors such as technology, site-related problems, and management-related
problems would be promising in building a more practical tool.
References
Acharya, N.K., Lee, Y.D. and Im, H.M. (2006), Investigating delay factors in construction
industry: a Korean perspective, Korean Journal of Construction Engineering and
Management, Vol. 10, pp. 177-90.

Time-cost
relationships

557
Table VIII.
Results of regression
analysis between
observed and predicted
duration

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Further reading
Acharya, N.K., Lee, Y.D. and Im, H.M. (2006), Design errors: tragic for the clients, Journal of
Construction Research, Vol. 7 Nos 1/2, pp. 177-90.
Chan, A.P.C. and Yeong, C.M. (1995), A comparison of strategies for reducing variations,
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Notes), Journal of Construction Engineering and Management (ASCE), Vol. 133 No. 2,
pp. 191-5.
Kenley, R. (2001), The predictive ability of Bromilows time-cost model: a comment,
Construction Management and Economics, Vol. 19 No. 8, pp. 759-64.
Le-Hoai, L., Lee, Y.D. and Lee, J.Y. (2008), Delay and cost overruns in Vietnam large construction
projects: a comparison with other selected countries, KSCE Journal of Civil Engineering,
Vol. 12 No. 6, pp. 367-77.
Stoy, C., Dreier, F. and Schalcher, H.R. (2007), Construction duration of residential building
projects in Germany, Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, Vol. 14
No. 1, pp. 52-64.
Corresponding author
Long Le-Hoai can be contacted at: lehoailong@hcmut.edu.vn

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