The decision-making process for a construction project is a continual balancing act between content and budget. There are many options involved with each facet of the design solution, be it an academic requirement, a mechanical necessity, an environmental concern or one of a host of other issues. Each option has an associated cost.
The successful project combines an optimal design solution with an acceptable cost.
The study and program phases of the construction process identify all the requirements and components of the project. These project elements can be sorted into categories, such as required or optional, and "high", "medium" or "low" (referring to cost or quality). Some items may be placed in an "ideal" or "wish list" category. The project budget rarely spreads so far as to cover these items, but they may still be made possible through gifts or some other funding source.