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Eight Top Estimating Tips

Eight Top Estimating Tips

Posted: July 8, 2021 | Estimating

Compiling accurate construction estimates requires specifics and precision. A good estimator is valuable to any construction organization, and can command a high salary. However, tight schedules and deadlines can make the job more prone to errors, and mistakes in estimating are usually costly. Estimating requires precision under pressure.

With this in mind here are the top 8 items of what to do and not do during the grueling process of producing a construction estimate:

1. Check the Jobsite Ahead of Time. Is there good access?

Will there have to be barriers installed? How far will materials have to be delivered? Will the ground grow muddy if it rains? A visit to the jobsite before you begin estimating can answer most of these questions and provide you with a mental location as you begin your estimate.

2. Keep the Estimating Process Transparent

The finished estimate produces each work item’s most granular details, along with the associated costs. While this can make the work more tedious, it clearly explains each cost for everyone involved. Transparency can also solicit collaboration. The more data that is available for others to see, the less likely a costly mistake can be overlooked.

3. Double-Check Labor & Material Costs

Though tedious, every figure should be double-checked. The estimate should shine a light on the details, leaving no cause for questioning or further clarifications. A small miscalculation can have a large impact on the overall computation. Each material and labor cost should be double checked, costs, especially material costs, can rapidly change.

Call your suppliers and make sure that your costs are up-to date and as accurate as possible.

4. Beware of Last-Minute Changes

Last minute changes tend to produce the largest errors. They create stress and provide the opportunity for a small figure change to represent a large mistake. Though avoiding last-minute changes is not always possible, special care and consideration must be taken when making a change at the last hour.

5. Don’t Focus on Your Strengths Alone

Every professional has their strong skills and their blind spots. Anyone can grow over-confident. An estimate should be double-checked with a third-party source, such as pricing databases, to provide assurance the figures fall within the realm of possibility and reality.

6. Trace the Profit of Each Project

Some projects require more work and deliver less profit. It’s extremely important to find the type of projects your company makes the largest profits from. Knowing the profit makers from the profit losers is the key to staying in business.

7. Appropriate Resources Correctly

Allocating resources consists of the shifting and rescheduling of money and materials, and then working to make it as economical and effective as possible. The allocating process is susceptible to omissions and inaccuracies, and must be done very carefully when materials are scarce.

8. Anticipate Risk

Being able to see ahead is perhaps an estimator’s greatest tool. Seeing and anticipating risks in advance often come from experience in the school of hard knocks. Anything can go wrong during a job. Will access, weather, material or labor shortages prolong the duration? What type of risks have you overlooked? What insurance can you build in to hold risk at bay?

Construction estimating requires a large amount of analysis, bidding and guessing on unknown circumstances. As such, even minor blunders can be influential resulting in substantial changes to the final outcome. These top 8 attributes in an estimator’s quiver shall help propel business,
profit and trust.