How the Cost-Influence Curve Impacts Construction Projects

Time is money, and a poorly run construction project results in expensive delays. Many factors influence the cost of construction, and adhering to the cost-influence curve through each step of the process can make or break your project.

What Is the Construction Bell Curve?

The construction bell curve refers to the cost-influence theory, which proposes that as your construction project moves through various phases, you lose your ability to stay within budget.

The Importance of Cost Management in Project Management

One of the most effective ways to control your construction costs is to partner with a full-service contractor early on in the project. Under the traditional construction delivery method, you commission an architect and engineers to prepare drawings and specifications, then select contractors and subcontractors to complete each phase.

Hiring multiple companies to work on each stage and expecting them to communicate through project details isn’t sustainable, since each company has its own project managers, contractors, and project specifications. Separate team members rarely collaborate on building progress, and before you know it, your construction project could fall out of budget.

Working with a full-service construction company establishes the proper communication loops. By using one provider for all your construction needs, management can effectively communicate your project goals through each stage of the process and make sure your builders stay within your budget and stay on schedule.

The Advantages of a Design-Build Provider

By investing in a design-build method, you streamline project delivery through a single contractor, creating a collaborative work environment between the designers and construction team.

Design-build contractors can lower your cost-influence curve in the early stages of your project by offering preconstruction services, like:

  • Feasibility assessments
  • Financing options
  • Site selection
  • Logistics planning
  • Conceptual planning
  • Value engineering
  • Expedited budgeting
  • Investment analysis

Combining these services under one contractor shows you the viability of your project—long before shovels break ground.

Factors that Influence Construction Cost

As shown by the cost-influence curve, decisions made during the planning and design phases substantially influence the success of your project. Effective communication through project details is key to controlling construction costs, because decisions made at the beginning of your project have a bigger impact on your budget than those made at later stages.

Working with a full-service provider eases communication issues that happen during the following stages:


If you go the traditional route and choose not to partner with a full-service provider, you’ll need to outsource your project planning needs. You’d have to shop around for architects, engineers, and compliance officers to make sure your building project is feasible.

Partnering with a design-build construction company delivers the unique advantage of working with their in-house teams. From architects to project managers, they will work with you to plan a project centered around your goals.


Without a full-service provider, you leave your blueprint decisions up to a third-party architect. With a design-build team, you get to evaluate building blueprints before construction begins and make adjustments if needed to be certain that the final product meets your standards.


You’ll be responsible for orchestrating project logistics if you don’t commit to a design-build process. From procuring permits to hiring various contractors, this is the stage that affects your cost-influence curve the most. Hiring multiple parties to complete different tasks can add up quickly, and you’ll eventually lose the ability to stay within your budget parameters.

With a full-service provider, their operations team will take the necessary steps to secure any required local permits. They’ll also provide in-house general contractors, giving you a fixed cost for construction services and guaranteeing the project stays on budget and on schedule.


Working with a single company during the construction phase enables your contractors to collaborate through any project issues. Full-service providers will staff a project manager onsite to make sure the project is completed up to your standards. They’ll also communicate with you through each phase, giving you peace of mind knowing your project is going as planned.


If you don’t work with a full-service contractor, you’ll need to make arrangements to conduct safety tests and hire building maintenance providers after construction is complete.

Full-service general contractors do more than simple design and construction. They can also conduct post-construction feasibility reviews to certify your facility is safe for everyday use. They also have established connections with HVAC, plumbing, and electrical technicians in your area and can organize future maintenance arrangements for you.

Minimize Your Cost-influence Curve With Carlson Kennedy

Carlson Kennedy is a full-service general contractor that specializes in managing each stage of your construction process. Combining all phases under one roof allows us to create the balance needed to deliver a successful, cost-effective project. We effectively communicate through each stage to ensure your project stays within budget while meeting your timeframe. Get in touch with our expert team to learn more—we’re here to help.