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What Does a Building Services Estimator Do?

A building services estimator needs to be familiar with construction methods like earthwork, concrete, electrical and plumbing. They also need to be aware of the impact that site conditions can have on construction costs.

Accurate estimating is crucial for moving construction projects from concept to completion. Inaccurate estimates can lead to project delays, escalation of costs and even failure to meet deadlines.

Quantity Takeoff

A thorough quantity takeoff allows estimators to accurately calculate the amount of materials needed for a project. It also helps them better understand the scope of work and build a realistic timeline. This ultimately helps to reduce waste and ensures that all required materials are delivered on time, resulting in improved project efficiency.

The takeoff process involves reviewing the construction drawings, specifications and other documentation to identify which components need to be measured and recorded. This can be done manually or with a digital takeoff tool. The latter typically involves comparing measurements against the construction drawings and using specialized software to generate a list of the quantities. The list can then be compiled into a comprehensive bill of quantities or material schedule, which is used as a reference for pricing, ordering and scheduling activities.

Quantity takes are important for the building industry because they help with accurate cost estimation, which is critical to meet bid deadlines and make project estimates. In addition, it enables stakeholders to assess the profitability of projects, determine labor rates and other costs and make informed business decisions. However, it’s important to note that not all quantity takes are created equal. Those that are conducted manually or without the use of a takeoff tool can be very time-consuming and error-prone.

Bid Packages

A bid package is a set of documents that contains the design, drawings, specifications, scope of work and contract terms for a construction project. It is the primary tool that owners use to invite contractors to bid on construction projects. Construction bidding has specific requirements that must be followed for public and privately owned projects. It is important to review all of the project documentation and proposals carefully in order to create an accurate bid that meets the requested specifications.

Every bid package will vary depending on the type of service or project that an agency is soliciting for. For example, some packages will have a questionnaire for vendors to complete to determine their eligibility as a small business, women, or minority-owned enterprise. This information is then used to create a proposal that will be submitted to the customer for consideration.

Many companies use software to help with the estimating and bidding process. Buildertrend is one of these construction software products that offers a comprehensive suite of tools to support all aspects of the construction management process. The product boasts that it can help users create accurate estimates five times faster than without its estimating features. It also provides built-in tools for takeoff, scheduling, and construction accounting, making it a well-rounded product. Buildertrend offers a free product demo that can be scheduled with a live representative and a 30-day money back guarantee for new customers to try it out before committing.

Estimating Methods

Construction estimators use a number of methods to prepare cost estimates. They use top-down estimates when they work with architects and engineers on the project design, but they also create bottom-up estimates for a variety of reasons. Some of these include comparing the costs of various contractors to select the best one, assessing how much a particular project may cost to build based on its size and function, or determining whether it can be built within budgetary constraints.

A major part of the job involves creating a list of all the materials required for a specific building, known as a material takeoff. This requires meticulously examining blueprints and schematics to create an accurate list of every item, including concrete for foundations, wood for framing, electrical and plumbing supplies, drywall and other finishing materials. Errors in this phase of the estimating process can lead to costly overages on projects, so estimators must exercise care.

Another estimate process is Assembly and Systems Estimating, in which a building’s components are priced individually and then combined. This type of estimate is performed during the design drawings phase when the building design is between 10% and 75% complete. It can be done using assemblies cost data guides and pricing indices, such as those available in Sweet’s Catalog and periodicals containing construction product price quotations and indices, such as Cost Engineering.

Communication Skills

Communication is a key component in construction estimation. Construction estimators need to be able to effectively communicate with all parties involved in a project, including the contractor, architects and engineers. They also need to have the ability to convey technical information in a way that is easy for non-experts to understand. This is especially important when communicating with workers on a construction site, where verbal communication can be difficult due to noise levels and safety considerations. Communication skills are vital to ensuring that all project stakeholders are on the same page, reducing the chance of miscommunication or misunderstandings that could lead to increased project costs.

During a bid package, the building services estimator will create work packages to break down the overall scope of the project into smaller portions that can be estimated individually. This can include the materials, labor, and equipment needed to complete a specific section of the project. Each work package is then added together to determine the total cost of the project. It is important that all work details are included in each work package, or the contractor will end up being on the hook for unaccounted for project costs later on in the process.

Building service estimators often work in conjunction with construction designers to review the designs of projects. It is important that they have excellent communication skills when working with designers to ensure that they are reviewing the correct sections of the design and not missing any important details.