Mahu- ja kuluarvestus käsitöönduslikus palkehituses / Volume and Cost Accounting in Hand-crafted Log Building

Meinrad Rohner


In this article, an experienced log builder, Meinrad Rohner (Alppisalvos Oy, Finland), presents a volume and cost accounting method for handcrafted log building, which he himself uses in in his own work. The methodology combines procedures arising from the technical peculiarities of the field and contract techniques of the business reality, and form 3-D and spreadsheet analyses. When building a log house, many aspects have to be considered, such as the quantity of wooden material and fastening fixtures, the working time required, a time schedule considering the reasonable sequence of work and delivery demands, a payment schedule and a realistic payroll. Both the builder and the client must know at the starting phase of the project how much time and money is required. During fieldwork, it is difficult to compensate for issues which were not paid attention to at the desk-stage.

One of the important planning stages is preparing an expenditure estimate which has to be done before a detailed quotation can be drawn up. Doing this will help to avoid labour-intensive design work and detailed bid preparation, if the contract is not ultimately signed.

Nowadays it is appropriate to use CAD drawing and spreadsheets for volume and cost calculations. More advanced drawing programs enable the insertion of additional information into the computer, such as the time volume of joints and grooves, types of additional work, etc., which form the so-called fourth dimension of a 3-D programme. When preparing the bid it is important to explain to the client what they will get, as well as what is not included in the quotation. 3-D models are also a good tool for illustrative explanations to such clients who are not familiar with log structures. Yet it has to be remembered that pictures cannot replace numbers, nor vice versa. A bid should also include delivery terms and costs for additional work and changes. It is important to prepare a written payment schedule. A good solution is to connect partial payments with the completion of certain work stages (for instance, logs debarked and stored for drying, the first six log rows installed, etc.).
A precondition for preparing a good volume and cost calculation is the knowledge about what and how will be done, and how much and what material will be used. In addition it must be known how much time and material is required at different stages of the work. The latter requires experience, the gaining of which takes many years. But if one’s own activity is not consciously analysed, the knowledge needed for planning will not be acquired. By analyses the author means that during the building process of a building as much information as possible should be recorded. For instance, how much time and material is needed for hewing the logs, for building a particular structure, for arranging the cargo, etc. This information can be used in subsequent projects. Psychologically it is not easy to perform monitoring and analyses, since this means dealing with documentation after a long working day. Thus it is advisable that appropriate routines and methodology are established before starting the fieldwork. One of the simplest solutions for recording a construction process is to take photos of the building once a week, or to save the work stage in 3-D view.

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ISSN (print) 1736-8138. SV is a publication of the Department on Estonian Native Crafts, University of Tartu's Viljandi Culture Academy.