Essential Thumb rules Used In Construction |Thumb Rule For Civil Engineering PDF

Thumb rules Used In Construction

A Thumb rule is an approximate & comparing method to calculate the quantity of different materials required for construction.

Thumb rules play an essential role for site engineers/site supervisors while making quick decisions on site.

Thumb rules help you calculate the quantity using a simple mathematical formula and make intelligent decisions whenever required.

In thumb rules, The measuring units are different when comparing to get the solution. Hence never consider units while using the thumb rule.

Remember, thumb rules never provide exact quantity, but you can use them for approximate quantity.

We apply many thumb rules in construction, and here I am sharing some Thumb rules that are most frequently used on site.

Thumb Rule for Volume of Concrete for the plan area.

The concrete volume required for per square feet plans area = 0.038 m3/square feet plan area.

Example – If the Plan Area = 25 x 40 = 1000 Sq. m. then total volume of concrete needed = 1000 x 0.038m3 = 38 m3.

Thumb Rule For Steel In Building Construction

Following are some essential thumb rules for calculating steel quantity for different buildings.

Steel needed for residential buildings = 4.5 Kgs – 4.75 Kg / sq. Ft.

Steel needed For Commercial buildings = 5.0 Kgs – 5.50 Kg/Sq. Ft.

You can also follow BN Datta’s recommendations for the more exact quantity.

Percentage of Steel For Different Structural Members

Following are some essential thumb rules for calculating steel quantity  for Footings, Columns, Beam & Slab

1) Slab 0.8 to 1% of total concrete volume (Slab steel calculation thumb rule)

2) Beam 1 to 2% of total concrete volume

3) Column 2 to 5 % of total concrete volume

4) Footings0.6 to 0.8% of total concrete volume


How to calculate the quantity of steel for a slab having dimensions 6m x 5m x 0.15m?

Step 1: Calculation of the Concrete Volume.

Total Concrete volume for Slab above mentioned slab = 6 x 5 x 0.15 = 4.5m3

Step 2: Calculation of  Steel Quantity Using above mentioned percentage 

As per the BN Dutta reference book, the quantity of steel for the slab is 1% of the total concrete volume.

Thumb rule to estimate the quantity of steel for slab mentioned above = Concrete Volume x Steel density x % of Steel for Member

Steel required for the slab = 4.5 x 7850 x 0.01 = 353.25Kgs

For exact estimation, you can learn from Bar Bending Schedule.

Essential Thumb rules Used In Construction

Thumb Rule for shuttering Area Calculation

Shuttering helps to shape the concrete, and its cost is 15 to 18% of the total construction cost.

The Thumb rule to determine the area of shuttering needed is 2.4 times the plinth area or six times the concrete quantity.

Consider, the quantity of concrete is one cubic meter, then the shuttering area needed is 1 x 6 = 6 square meters.

Members of Shuttering

Ply, Battens, Nails are members of Shuttering.

Calculation For Shuttering Ply

The shuttering Ply has dimensions 2.44 x 1.22 x 0.012  length, width, and thickness.

The Numbers of Shuttering Ply sheets needed = 0.22 times of Shuttering Area

Assume the area of shuttering is = 5m

Then the Ply required for shuttering = 0.22 x 5 = 1.1 numbers

The calculation for battens Quantity 

Batten usually have a width and thickness of 75mm x 40mm.

Batten Quantity = 19.82 x Numbers of Ply Sheets

If we need 25 Plyboard for construction, the total quantity of Battens is 19.82 x 25 = 495 Battens.

Nails & Binding Wire Quantity Calculation For shuttering

For one square meter of shuttering, nails required are 75 grams.

For every one square meter of shuttering, the binding wire needed is 75 grams.

Thumb rule for oil Quantity required for shuttering:

Oil is applied on the surface of ply or metal plates for easy removal of shuttering.

Quantity of oil needed for shuttering is = 0.065 x Total Shuttering Area


For a 15 square meters area of shuttering, 1 litre of oil is needed.


If the total area of shuttering is 15 square meter, then oil required is = 0.065 x 15 = 0.975 liters.

Thumb Rule To Calculate the Quantity of Materials Needed For Different Grades of Concrete.

For one cubic meter

Concrete GradeCement
in Bags
in Cum
in Cum
M5 (1:5:10)2.770.480.96
M7.5 (1:4:8)3.410.470.94
M10 (1:3:6)4.440.460.92
M15 (1:2:4)6.340.440.88
M20 (1:1.5:3)8.060.420.84

Thumb Rule to Calculate Material Required for Brickwork

BrickworkCement Quantity in
Cement Quantity
in Kg
230 mm Brickwork0.876bags/m343.80
115 mm Brickwork0.218bags/m310.90

Thumb Rule to Calculate Cement for Masonry

Cement Masonry Type
& Mix
Cement Quantity in bagsCement Quantity
in Kg
200mm Masonry work of ratio 1:60.124Bags/m26.2Kg/m2
150mm Masonry work of ratio 1:60.093Bags/m24.65Kg/m2
200mm Masonry work of ratio 1:40.206Bags/m210.3Kg/m2
150mm Masonry work of ratio 1:40.144Bags/m27.2Kg/m2
100mm Masonry work of ratio 1:40.103Bags/m25.15Kg/m2

Thumb Rule For Plastering Material Quantity

Plaster TypeCement Quantity in
Cement Quantity
in Kg
Rough Plaster0.09Bags/m24.5Kg/m2
Internal Wall Plaster0.09Bags/m24.5Kg/m2
Duct Plastering0.09Bags/m24.5Kg/m2
External Wall Plaster0.175Bags/m28.75Kg/m2
Stucco Plaster0.175Bags/m28.75Kg/m2
Lathen Plastering0.55Bags/m227.5Kg/m2

Thumb Rule To Determine Labour Productivity

Type of WorkType of LabourProductivity
8 Hours
Brickwork1 Mason
1Male Mazdoor
1Female Mazdoor
1.27 Cum
Wall Plaster1 Mason
1Male Mazdoor
1Female Mazdoor
12 Sqm
Ceiling Plaster1 Mason
1Male Mazdoor
1Female Mazdoor
8 Sqm
Block Work 4″1 Mason
1Male Mazdoor
1Female Mazdoor
8 Sqm
Block Work 6″1 Mason
1Men Mazdoor
1Woman Mazdoor
8 Sqm
Block Work 8″1 Mason
1Male Mazdoor
1Female Mazdoor
10 Sqm
Bar Bender1 Skilled
1 Unskilled
200 Kg
Carpenter1 Skilled
1 Unskilled
4 Sqm
Tile Work1 Mason
1Male Mazdoor
10 Sqm

Also, Read

House Construction Cost Calculator Excel Sheet

Estimate of Building Work – Long Wall Short Wall Method, Centre Line Method

Steel Bar Weight Calculator

Plaster Material Calculator

Brickwork Material Calculator

Concrete Material Calculator

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