The Details Behind Construction Estimating

Construction firms, contractors, and architects employ estimators to gauge the cost of new projects and plan accordingly. To do their jobs effectively, estimators must consider factors such as the required materials, labor, location, time frame to complete a job. Travel is often required and there are lots of deadlines to keep in mind as they present estimates to clients and employers. Some construction-related companies hire estimators to estimate, and sales people to sell, while other companies combine these jobs into a single position.

But regardless, every successful project begins with quality estimation. These are a few of the basics about the science of construction engineering

Start with a Good Set of Plans

If you don’t have a good set of plans, it’s impossible to know whether a client’s idea matches the estimator’s understanding of the project. The take-off process is important in identifying the major and minor cost items, the project scope, and any foreseeable variables.

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Incorporate Labor Hours

Labor doesn’t come cheaply in the construction industry, so firms need to ensure that labor hours are fully incorporated into the estimate. This can be determined by crew analysis or applied on a unit man-hour basis. Based upon the project deadlines, estimators need to factor in anticipated overtime hours, which could drastically affect productivity and overall cost.

Unit Cost Estimating

Unit cost estimating is one of the most effective methods used in the industry. This method involves compiling all the line items for the job, attaching a unit cost to each item, and totaling up the figures. Many estimators prefer this method over the more time consuming stick estimating process, which requires separate material and labor take-offs before doing the final calculation.

Consider Material Cost Fluctuations 

As anyone in the industry knows, material prices increase and decrease based on the timing of the buying cycle. Big items to consider are sole-sourced items that have no other comparable brands and items with special delivery requirements.

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Account for Equipment Costs

Similarly, equipment costs vary based on the project conditions, as well as using the proper capability of equipment with interfacing with various types of equipment. These costs will likely be similar regardless of which contractor performs the work. Cycle times, equipment availability, and equipment capacity also affect project costs.

Computerized Estimating Programs

Over the years of construction innovation, one of the best improvements has been estimating software programs. Computerized programs expedite the whole process and help to eliminate errors.

Whether you’re looking to build a commercial, industrial, retail, medical, office, or recreational project, we can perform quantity take-offs that involve measuring, counting and figuring quantities of any given construction item within the plans. Contact us to discuss your project, get an estimate, and increase the number of bids submitted.


Photo credit: COD Newsroom via Flickr

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