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Construction Estimating Services

Cost estimating is an integral part of any construction project. Inaccurate estimates can lead to budget overruns and missed schedules. Using construction estimating services can help avoid these problems.

Construction estimating services provide detailed, accurate estimates that can save time and money for building professionals. They can also be a cost-effective solution for small construction firms that cannot afford to maintain an in-house estimating team.

Estimating Process

Construction estimators analyze building projects from multiple angles in order to determine their costs. This process is complex, and it requires a high level of detail to ensure that all materials needed for construction are accounted for. This process can include analyzing architectural plans, plumbing, electrical and mechanical needs, fire alarm systems, as well as structural systems such as poured concrete and rebar.

The first step in the estimation process is a rough order of magnitude estimate. This is typically performed in the schematic design phase and establishes ballpark cost ranges to gauge a project’s feasibility. It also helps contractors balance their client’s design intentions with their budget expectations.

Once a contractor has a good idea of how much a project will cost, they can then begin collecting material prices and equipment costs. These costs will vary based on the type of materials required, the manufacturer, the current market demand, transportation and exchange rates.

In addition to these indirect field costs, contractors must also consider the overhead expenses associated with their business. This includes bonding and insurance coverage, which are annual costs that contractors usually spread across their construction projects each year. Estimators must also be sure to include the cost of any special tools and equipment that will be necessary for a specific project. These costs may include a boom lift, power tools, or on-site computer cabinet, among other items.


Construction materials are often a big chunk of the cost for building projects. It is important for estimators to have a good understanding of the types of materials needed and their relative costs. They must be able to use this knowledge to create a material survey and make estimates that take into account all required materials as well as a markup for profit and contingency. This requires experience in the industry and knowledge of local market conditions. For example, some materials may be less expensive in certain areas, such as wood in regions near lumber mills.

Getting an accurate estimate for material costs can be challenging because prices can change from the time that the estimator starts their estimate to when construction begins. To help avoid this problem, it is helpful to develop relationships with suppliers and vendors. This can help them lock in prices while they are creating their estimate and save on delivery charges.

The estimating process also involves assessing the risk of the project. This is important because it can help determine whether the project is worth pursuing or not. For example, if a project is extremely risky, it might not be financially feasible to bid on. A risk assessment can also help you determine how much to include in your estimated costs for unforeseen expenses and other variables that could impact the project’s success.

Scope of Work

Creating an accurate construction estimate requires a thorough understanding of the project. It should include a detailed breakdown of expenses that accounts for every cost possible in the project. This breakdown should be measurable, achievable and relevant. It should also contain a time frame. This will help to keep the project on schedule and on budget. It will also allow workers to stay motivated and on task. Contingency is also included in the estimate to account for unexpected costs that may occur during construction.

A cost estimate can be classified into five tiers, with each one serving a different purpose. For example, a preliminary estimate may use historical pricing data and a bidding estimate, which requires higher accuracy, will use actual quotations from subcontractors and vendors. A final estimate will be based on the design development estimate and will serve as the basis for the budget.

The process of estimating starts with researching unit rates, which are prices that cover labor and equipment for each task performed on the project. These unit rates vary depending on the type of work. For instance, a roof installation will require specific materials and will need to be priced accordingly. In addition to calculating the materials needed, the estimator must take into account nonstandard items and nonstandard processes that are unique to the project.

Quantity Takeoff

A construction quantity takeoff is a process where an estimator reviews drawings and plans to forecast future project costs. Estimators “take off” quantities from the standard contract documents such as architectural drawings, structural engineering drawings, plumbing, site water reticulation and drainage drawings, electrical, and HVAC drawings. This process increases bidding accuracy, work efficiency, and saves time on rectifications, which ultimately reduces project costs.

The most important part of the quantity takeoff is creating a list of all materials that will be required in the project. The estimater will then assign a cost to each of the items on the list. This step is often overlooked, causing inefficiency and costly mistakes. It is important to have a highly specialized skill set when performing a quantity takeoff, as it requires precise data management.

Quantity takeoffs are an essential part of the planning process for construction projects. They allow stakeholders to understand the scope of a project and identify necessary materials, equipment, and labor. They are also used to track change orders and provide a baseline for scheduling and budgeting. A full detailed estimate is the next step in the estimation process and includes pricing and cost calculations for each item on the quantity takeoff. This is more detailed than a basic estimate and includes information such as unit costs, labor rates, and material prices.