What is Cost Plus in Construction?

cost plus contract in construction

Table of Contents

“Cost Plus” is a construction contract concept that affects the execution of projects and the management of costs. Throughout this article, we will explore the complexities of Cost-Plus contracts, what they are, how they work, their advantages and disadvantages, various types, the importance of contract formation, who utilizes them, and the significance of obtaining professional construction estimating services.

Cost-plus contracts are a typical arrangement in the construction industry, providing a unique approach to project management and cost control. Understanding these contracts is essential whether you’re in the construction industry as a contractor, client, or professional.

What is a Cost Plus Contract?

In a Cost-Plus contract, the client (often called the “owner”) and the contractor agree on the price before work begins. A Cost-Plus contract involves reimbursement of the actual project costs incurred by the contractor in addition to a predetermined sum. Fixed fees or percentages of the total cost may be charged.

How Cost Plus Contracts Work?

We need to break down the process to grasp the inner workings of Cost-Plus contracts. We’ll explore how these contracts are structured and the factors influencing cost determination.

Advantages of a Cost-Plus Contract

Cost-Plus contracts offer several advantages, both for the client and the contractor. These benefits include transparency, flexibility, and a unique incentive structure that encourages cost-saving measures.

Disadvantages of Cost-Plus Contracts

While Cost-Plus contracts have their merits, they also come with disadvantages. Cost uncertainty, a potential lack of cost control, and conflicts of interest are the challenges of this contract type.

Types of Cost-Plus Contracts

Cost-Plus contracts can take different forms, depending on how the reimbursement structure is defined. We’ll explore three common types: Cost-plus fixed fee, Cost-plus percentage fee, and Cost-plus with a guaranteed maximum price.

Importance of Contract Formation

It is the formation of a Cost-Plus contract that lays the groundwork for the success of the project. We’ll discuss how contract formation defines the terms and conditions, establishes project scope, and allocates risks between the parties involved.

Who Uses Cost-Plus Contracts?

Cost-Plus contracts are not limited to a single industry or scenario. We’ll explore the various industries and situations where these contracts are commonly employed.

Get Construction Estimating Services

One of the keys to successful Cost-Plus is accurate cost estimation. We’ll examine the role of construction estimators and the advantages of utilizing construction estimating services.


In conclusion, Cost-Plus contracts offer a dynamic approach to construction project management, allowing for flexibility, transparency, and quality control. However, they also come with their own set of challenges that must be carefully managed.

Also Read: Importance of Cost Planning in construction


  1. What is the primary difference between a Cost-Plus and a fixed-price contract in construction?

Cost-Plus reimburses actual costs plus a fee, while fixed-price sets a predetermined project cost.

  1. How can contractors maintain cost control in a Cost-Plus?

Effective cost tracking and communication with clients are critical for cost control.

  1. What are the key considerations when choosing between different types of Cost-Plus contracts?

Consider project complexity, risk tolerance, and client preferences.

  1. Are Cost-Plus contracts suitable for large-scale construction projects?

Yes, especially when the project scope is uncertain.

  1. What role do construction estimators play in the Cost-Plus process?

Estimators provide cost estimates and ensure transparent cost reporting.

  1. What are the common misconceptions about Cost-Plus?

Common misconceptions include higher costs and lack of control, which can be mitigated with effective management.

  1. What steps can clients take to ensure transparency in Cost-Plus?

Clients should establish clear guidelines, review costs, and consider independent audits.

  1. Can a Cost-Plus contract be converted into a fixed-price contract if necessary?

Yes, through mutual agreement and documented contract amendments.


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