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When advancing your estimating construction costs beyond science, it evolves into an art form. This transcends a narrow focus on specific details and allows for a comprehensive view of the estimate from a higher level. In this approach, accuracy in the minutiae is not the sole objective; rather, it involves considering the broader influences that impact the details.

How To Make an Estimate for Construction

Tactics for Assessing the Project’s Scope

Before commencing any construction cost estimation, it is crucial for the estimator to have a comprehensive understanding of the project’s scope. This understanding should extend beyond the technical details outlined in the plans and encompass the client’s short-term and long-term expectations for the project.

For instance, the client may have intentions to expand the building once the initial construction is fully occupied. By being aware of this intention, the estimator can be more attuned to the design details that would facilitate future additions. While the design and engineering teams will provide specific details, it is the estimator’s responsibility to grasp the underlying intentions in order to craft an estimate that aligns with the client’s vision.

To ensure a thorough understanding of the project’s scope, follow these steps:

  1. Review Contract Documents: Start by thoroughly examining the contract documents, including the project’s purpose, intended use, and any future plans or expansions mentioned. Pay close attention to any specific requirements or unique aspects of the project.
  2. Communicate with the Project Manager: Engage in discussions with the project manager to clarify any unclear details and gain insights into the client’s expectations. Ask questions about any aspects of the project that require further clarification or that may impact the cost estimation process.
  3. Take Note of Unusual Project Aspects: Make detailed notes of any unusual or unconventional aspects of the project that may have cost implications. This includes factors like specialized materials, unique design features, or complex engineering requirements. Understanding these aspects will enable you to accurately assess the associated costs.

By taking the time to understand the project’s scope and the client’s intentions, you can approach the cost estimation process with a deeper level of insight. This allows you to artfully prepare an estimate that not only aligns with the technical details provided by the design and engineering teams but also considers the client’s long-term plans and expectations for the project.

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Estimating Construction Costs
Estimating Construction Costs

Tactics for Accurate Quantity Takeoffs

When you are responsible for both the quantity takeoff and the estimate, any inaccuracies in the estimate can be attributed to you alone. The quantity takeoff forms the foundation of the work breakdown structure and informs the costs associated with the project. Accuracy hinges on your comprehensive understanding of the planned construction and meticulous attention to measuring and calculating dimensional information.

To ensure accuracy in your quantity takeoff and estimate, consider the following steps:

  1. Choose an Appropriate Takeoff Tool: Select a takeoff tool that aligns with your preferred working style or can be easily customized to meet your requirements. This will enhance efficiency and accuracy throughout the process.
  2. Verify Dimensions and Volumes: Double-check dimensions and cubic volumes as you progress with the takeoff. Pay close attention to any telltale signs of errors in the dimensions provided on the plans. This includes discrepancies such as opposing walls of different lengths in rectangular rooms or different volumes in contiguous spaces.
  3. Identify and Note Design and Engineering Mistakes: Design and engineering errors can occur, so it is important to promptly identify and document any mistakes you come across. By catching these errors early on, you can safeguard your estimates and projects from potential problems that may arise later.

If you are reviewing someone else’s quantity takeoff, the same principles apply. Although you may be less familiar with the project details, this can actually work to your advantage since errors are more likely to stand out.

Tactics for Building Accurate Work Breakdown Structures

Once you have the dimensional aspects in order, the work breakdown structure (WBS) presents an opportunity to exercise the art of estimating. Review the project specifications thoroughly to develop a comprehensive understanding of the materials and features involved, including even the fasteners. 

However, a common challenge arises when there are no specific specifications provided, and instead, there are notes indicating the use of “generally acceptable workmanship and materials.” This ambiguity creates a gray area in construction estimating.

The positive aspect is that in many cases, when you estimate based on commonly used materials and established practices, you are likely to be on the right track. However, it is essential to remain vigilant for instances where there are either no specifications or where specifications are absent for atypical assemblies. In such cases, it is crucial to either make a note for clarification or seek immediate answers from the relevant parties.

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By addressing these areas of uncertainty promptly, you can ensure that your estimates are as accurate as possible and align with the project’s requirements. 

Clear communication with the project team and stakeholders is key to fill in any gaps in the specifications and avoid any misunderstandings or assumptions that could lead to costly mistakes.

Strategies for Preparing an Accurate Construction Cost Estimation

To ensure accurate construction estimating, it is crucial to pay attention to details right from the beginning, starting with the work environment. Often overlooked, the environment in which you perform your estimates directly impacts your concentration and focus. Noisy offices, constant interruptions, and uncomfortable working conditions can undermine your best efforts.

It is important to advocate for a dedicated space for estimating if you do not already have one. Request management to consider providing a suitable environment for conducting estimates. Investing in a conducive workspace will yield benefits quickly as you win more bids, complete jobs within budget, and minimize claims and change orders. Additionally, it helps in fostering better customer relationships.

On a personal level, cultivate habits that enhance focus and concentration. This is a matter of personal preference and finding what works best for you. Some individuals find that wearing a headset and listening to their favorite music helps them concentrate.

Others may prefer using earplugs to block out distractions. Some may choose to isolate themselves in a quiet room. Arrange the conditions that facilitate your focus and concentration.

By creating an optimal work environment and adopting habits that aid concentration, you can set yourself up for success in construction estimating. A conducive work setting allows you to give proper attention to the details, leading to more accurate estimates and improved project outcomes.

Estimating Construction Costs
Estimating Construction Costs

Use Specialized Software for Estimating Construction Costs

When it comes to estimating construction costs, the choice of tools and techniques depends on the complexity of the project. For simple estimates with fewer than 10 activities, a spreadsheet may suffice. However, once the project becomes more complex, specialized software designed for construction estimating is recommended.

When selecting estimating software, consider the typical features offered and choose those that align with your preferred estimating style. It can be helpful to try demo versions of different software to determine which one suits your needs best. Additionally, if your company doesn’t have its own detailed cost database, ensure that the software you choose provides one.

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In estimating labor costs, rely on verifiable local labor production data. While third-party databases provide general labor productivity numbers, adjusting factors specific to your region can make the data more accurate. Furthermore, if you have labor productivity data from your own company and subcontractors, incorporate that information into your estimates.

In conclusion, advancing in the art of estimating requires continuous improvement, collecting and analyzing project data, and staying informed about industry trends. By following these principles, estimators can enhance their accuracy and become masters in their profession.

Rely on Verifiable Local Labor Production Data

Labor constitutes approximately half of the total cost in any construction project. Instead of relying solely on third-party databases for estimating, it is crucial to utilize verifiable local labor productivity numbers. Adjust these figures by incorporating region-specific factors to enhance the accuracy of your database.

Additionally, if you possess labor productivity data from your company and subcontractors, further refine your labor cost estimates using this information. Consider project-specific factors and seasonal variations in productivity. For example, projects undertaken during winter may experience decreased productivity due to challenges posed by snow and ice, as well as the impact of cold weather on worker performance.

Cost Estimation Techniques in Construction Projects

Construction cost estimation involves three main types:

1. **Design Phase Estimation:**
– Informative estimates during the design phase, particularly in design-build projects.
– High-level estimates covering major project components.

2. **Bidding Construction Estimates:**
– Detailed and accurate estimates for bidding purposes.
– Influence the project award and determine potential profitability.
– Inclusion of subcontractor prices is common.

3. **Project Control Estimates:**
– Aid project managers in understanding budgetary progress.
– May include re-estimates and new estimates for changes in scope.

Strategies for Preparing an Accurate Construction Cost Estimation
Strategies for Preparing an Accurate Construction Cost Estimation

Estimating Construction Costs Long-Term Strategies

Whether operating as an individual or within a larger company, consistently improving estimating accuracy requires strategic planning:

1. **Collecting Project Data:**
– Gather data from every project to inform future estimates.
– Track labor and machine productivity for insights into associated costs.

2. **Estimator Continuing Education:**
– Stay informed about construction trends, materials, and labor.
– Engage in self-study or advanced classes to enhance estimating skills.

Advancing from basic Estimating Construction Costs by APPMVN company introduce to you to artful precision mirrors the journey toward an advanced degree. Elevate your skills, gain experience, and master the intricacies of your chosen profession to achieve excellence in estimating.

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