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DCD Magazine

The Anatomy of a Perfect Bid
DCD, Industry Associations Announce Best Project Estimate Challenge

By Lynn Murray

Preparing an accurate, complete construction bid requires the perfect intersection of a unique (and often evasive) combination of elements. Project knowledge, design insight, historical data, the ability to predict and adjust for ever-changing variables, and a healthy dose of luck all factor into the estimating equation. Cost estimating can be both challenging and frustrating, but it’s the exactness of the science – and the lack of it – that attracts and entices estimating professionals constantly trying to hit the moving target.

It seems simple enough: An estimate is a calculation of the quantities of various items of work and the expenses likely to be incurred during the course of that work. How the estimate compares to the actual costs, however, depend on the accuracy of the professional’s methods and his ability to visualize the work. Under-estimating can result in a shock to the client – and possible abandonment or drastic modification of the project. Over-estimating may lose the estimating professional his client, his job – or at very least, his confidence.

A new contest seeks to recognize and reward those estimating professionals and/or their teams who manage to get it right. The Best Project Estimate Challenge – the first of its kind in the estimating profession – is seeking entries from owners, architects, general contractors and estimators from all types of projects. Kind of a “closest to the pin” challenge for professionals that estimate, the contest is open to any firm whose project estimate won a prime construction contract by 2 percent or better.

The Best Project Estimate Challenge is sponsored and judged by a triumvirate of professional industry organizations that promote and facilitate accurate cost estimating:

• Design Cost Data (www.dcd.com), a publisher of actual building construction costs submitted by architects and contractors nationwide for more than 50 years. Cost escalators and regional modifiers allow readers to cost model projects based on peer-submitted project data.
• The American Society of Professional Estimators (ASPE) (www.aspenational.org), a professional society founded in 1956 serving construction estimators by providing education, fellowship, and the opportunity for professional development and promoting the highest standards and ethics in the practice of construction estimating.
• The International Builders Exchange Executives (IBEE), an international non-profit association founded in 1948 for senior executives from Builders' Exchanges and other construction-related associations who are committed to sharing information, ideas, trends, techniques and methods for the betterment of serving a diverse and complex industry. Through an informal affiliation called the Builders Exchange Network (www.bxnetwork.org), IBEE members provide plan room services and project news information to over 70,000 commercial contractors, sub-contractors and suppliers in North America.

“As the largest association devoted entirely to the interest of the construction estimating professionals, ASPE is very pleased to partner with Design Cost Data magazine and the International Builders Exchange Executives to bring together tremendous examples of what really talented estimating teams can do,” said Edward Walsh, executive director, ASPE.

“Estimating involves so much more than just pulling a few numbers together; it’s far from easy. Design Cost Data has always focused on providing real, historical project data that gives architects, contractors and estimators a solid foundation for building cost estimates and project estimate validation,” said Barb Castelli, publisher, Design Cost Data magazine.”This challenge celebrates those talented professionals who have carefully and continually mastered their skills.”

According to Brenda Romano, Executive Vice President of the International Builders Exchange Executives, the contest gives recognition to a group that is often overlooked. “We want to recognize the ‘unsung hero’s’ of the construction industry,” said Romano. “Accurate estimating is crucial to the bid process. It can literally make or break a construction company. We are delighted that Design Cost Data Magazine has decided to spotlight this group and pleased to contribute in some small way toward their recognition.”

Contest details
Project estimates will be judged on the following criteria:

1) The Numbers (30 Points) - The conceptual-to-actual bid comparison (if applicable) and the bid-to-final-cost comparison (not including change orders), project schedule, and predicted and actual time of the project.
2) The Estimating Processing (30 points) - The estimating technique and appearance of the estimate, coupled with a 500-word essay describing the project, its challenges and why it should win the contest. This section should also include any materials or documentation that support the estimating strategies used to arrive at the final estimate, including drawings, cost databases, cost indexes, software, etc.
3) The Presentation (40 points) - The project will be judged on the overall presentation, including presentation board, photos, estimating forms, etc.

Date and deadlines
Firms interested in submitting a project presentation for the Best Project Estimate Challenge are asked to complete and submit an “Intent to Participate” Form by October 15, 2008. Forms can be downloaded on www.dcd.com.

This intent form will help DCD identify interest and subsequently a location for preliminary or chapter contests. The ASPE chapters and BXs will host these local contests to choose the entries to be sent out to Regional Events where a maximum of 5 regional entries will move on to final judging and the winner announced at the 2009 ASPE Annual Meeting.

All projects completed after July 1, 2007 are eligible for submission. Contest is open to all. Participating firms do not have to be members of ASPE.

Project entries are due to Design Cost Data no later than February 1, 2009.

The Challenge Award will be presented in July 2009 at the American Society of Professional Estimators Annual Meeting in St. Louis, Mo.

And the winner gets …
The winning project and estimating team will be featured on the cover of Design Cost Data magazine, giving the winner national recognition. DCD will also donate $1,000 in honor of the winner to the ASPE National Scholarship Program. Additionally, the International Builders Exchange Executives will match the $1,000 donation to the local ASPE Chapter of the winner. The winning project presentation will be displayed at the ASPE Annual Meeting in July 2009 in St. Louis.

For questions or more information regarding the Best Project Estimate Challenge, contact Barb Castelli, publisher, Design Cost Data magazine at 800-533-5680 or via email at barb@dcd.com.

Intent To Participate
"Best Project Estimate Challenge”

Have you or one of your general contractors produced a great estimate? Hit your project budget right on with a design build solution? Left nothing on the table in a competitive setting? If so, that is what we are looking for. Please submit your estimate for our Best Project Estimate Challenge. The winner will be announced in St. Louis at the 2009 ASPE national meeting and featured in DCD.

Project Estimates will be judged on 1). The bid to bid comparison, and bid to final cost (not including change orders) 2). The estimating technique and appearance of the estimate along with a 500-word essay describing the estimating process, the building, and why should your project win 3). The overall presentation of the award submittal. Projects completed after July 1, 2007 are eligible.

Project Intent forms are due to Design Cost Data™ no later than October 15, 2008 and Project Entries are due to Design Cost Data no later than February 1, 2009. Please call DCD at 800-533-5680 with any questions or for more information visit www.dcd.com.

Intent To Participate Form

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