W.A. Jennings, founder of form manufacturer EFCO, said more than 64 years ago: "It's not the initial cost of equipment that counts, but the initial cost plus the cost of using." That statement underlies the methods EFCO has developed for comparing the cost-effectiveness of various forming systems. Contractors can use a similar approach when choosing forms for their own jobs by applying a simple equation: True Forming Cost = Equipment Cost + Cost of Using.

Equipment cost must include all materials, accessories, tools, and rental costs. It will be affected by the proposed schedule, which determines the number of reuses that can be expected from a given set of forms. Cost of using must include all labor involved in setting, cycling, and stripping forms. Equally important, it should include finishing labor, such as patching tie holes and sacking and rubbing joints, because it's so dependent on the forming method used. Crane-handling costs are another component of the cost of using.

Almost without exception, the biggest variable is labor cost. Productivity of workers can vary due to jobsite conditions, weather, skill level, experience, and many other conditions. And the more labor-intensive the system, the greater the cost variances.