Inaccurate cost estimates can make construction projects unprofitable and lead to financial disaster. Maintaining a full-time estimating department can be too costly for many smaller construction businesses.
Estimators prepare different types of estimates for various stages in the project lifecycle. These include a conceptual estimate based on the rough order of magnitude and a schematic design estimate based on lists of materials and quantities.
Scope of Work
A detailed scope of work is essential for a construction project. It clarifies what a contractor is contractually responsible for and allows them to plan accordingly. It also helps avoid unnecessary stress on a working relationship by making it clear which items will require long lead times and may hold up the rest of a project’s progress.
To prepare a detailed estimate, the estimator reviews a variety of documents. This includes construction drawings, specifications and engineering estimates. They may also evaluate contractors’ bids by studying the contractor’s performance on past projects and evaluating their quotes against the project’s budget.
They start with a general idea of the building’s material needs by reviewing the technical specifications, often referred to as “bid specifications”. Then they use cost data from various sources to assess the scope of work in detail. This might include the structural requirements, as well as details of how MEP systems will affect the construction process.
The estimate team will also identify any nonstandard work, such as a floor plan that requires unique layouts or features. Then they’ll consider whether the work can be accomplished using standard procedures and if not, how much it will add to the overall cost. This will help them determine what additional information to request from the contractor, such as a schedule of allowances.
In the construction industry, preparing bid proposals requires careful consideration of the client’s submission requirements, deadlines and overall bid package. Contractors must also carefully review and proofread their price list before submitting it to ensure accuracy, double-check unit prices, verify quantities and cross-reference against the project requirements. If even a single error is found, the contractor may be disqualified.
The quality of your bid proposal is critical for establishing your credibility as a contractor and securing future opportunities. A well-prepared and polished bid that reflects the project scope, materials needed and market rates showcases your professionalism and attention to detail.
Moreover, your proposal should incorporate any unique selling points that will set you apart from your competition. For example, if the client emphasizes sustainability in their projects, showcase your experience with eco-friendly construction practices and energy-efficient designs.
Finally, your bid proposal should clearly demonstrate that you understand the project’s requirements. It should include an overview of your proposed solution and details about the team, personnel involved and company history. This will establish your professionalism and ensure that the client is confident you will deliver a high-quality project within the specified timeline. In addition, it is important to highlight any value-added services that can provide added benefits to the client, such as expediting construction or leveraging your relationships with suppliers to negotiate discounts on materials.
Material takeoff, also referred to as construction takeoff or quantity takeoff, is the process of creating a comprehensive list of all the materials and their quantities required to complete a project based on the construction drawings and blueprints. The purpose of the material takeoff is to ensure that all of the necessary materials are ordered in advance to avoid any delays or additional costs later on in the construction process.
Material quantities are a crucial part of the estimating process because they inform everything from labor hours to equipment expenses. Inaccurate material takeoffs can result in overages or underages, which could lead to a loss for the builder. It is important to ensure that the takeoffs are accurate so that bids can accurately reflect all job costs and allow for healthy profit margins.
The best way to avoid inaccuracies in a material takeoff is to use a construction takeoff service that uses advanced software and cutting-edge technology, which speeds up the entire process and allows for more accuracy. This type of software makes it easy to incorporate the takeoffs into all other construction processes, like scheduling and BIM models.
When preparing a manual material takeoff, the preparer must read the construction drawings to identify all the different types of materials that are required for the project and consult with the specifications and blueprints to find out how much each one will cost. Then, the preparer must add any special requirements to each material item (for example, if there is load-bearing lumber, it may be required that the lumber has a certain size or that it receives a specific treatment). Most manual takeoffs also include a number of line items that are priced per unit length, such as steel, timber, and piping.
Whether a construction estimating service compiles a takeoff using a manual material count or takes off with the help of digital takeoff software, the final result must be an accurate list of materials for the project. That includes concrete, drywall, steel framing and more. The contractor can then use unit cost data and multiplie those material quantities with the local market rates to determine an estimate for the project.
This estimate is then used to create a bid that the contractor can present to clients or internal purchasing departments. Without a precise material takeoff, the contractor risks losing out on a job because it is overbidding or winning a job by underbidding.
A well-oiled construction estimating process, including accurate measurements and values, a clear checklist and up-to-date plans, helps the building team make informed decisions about the project timeline and cost. The process also enables teams to collaborate more effectively across the construction chain, from client/developers and designers to engineers and architects, and subcontractors.
A professional construction estimating service can save contractors valuable time and resources on construction takeoffs by handling the entire process for them. Using a software solution, such as Autodesk Takeoff, can reduce takeoff processing times by up to 30% and improve accuracy rates. Plus, it functions as a common data environment for the entire project, ensuring that all stakeholders are working on the same information.