An accurate building estimate is a crucial step in the construction of a development project. During the estimation process, builders must consider overhead costs.
A building services estimator reviews a construction project’s scope documents and plans in order to prepare an estimate. This includes a material quantity takeoff. Using this list, contractors can begin reaching out to equipment suppliers and vendors for pricing information.
Cost estimation is a vital part of any building project, and requires strong mathematical and analytical skills. Building estimators work closely with construction designers to review designs and ensure that the project will be constructed according to specifications. They are also responsible for reviewing quotations, schematic drawings, contract bids and other materials related to a specific project.
Depending on the scope of a project, estimators will use different methodologies to calculate costs for tasks. Some methods are time consuming and require a high level of accuracy. Others are more parametric, and rely on formulas that take into account specific variables like the size of the building, materials used, construction procedures and so forth.
Contractors rely on accurate cost estimates to determine whether they can afford to bid for a given project and meet its financial feasibility requirements. An estimate can also be used to determine the maximum budget for a project, which can be beneficial to both the builder and the client.
When creating a cost estimate, estimators need to take into account direct and indirect costs. Direct costs include the cost of materials, equipment and labor. Indirect costs include the costs of supervision, overruns, site offices, fencing the construction site and other miscellaneous expenses. Contractors will also reach out to equipment vendors to determine pricing for leased or rental equipment that may be required for the project.
Scope of Work Analysis
A well-crafted scope of work defines what will be done with a project and who is responsible. It will also include a timeline and milestones to help the construction team stay on track with their project goals. It will also identify risks that may impact the schedule or budget, which can be a cause of failure on a project.
In addition to the project details, a building services estimator will need to create a material take-off list, which gives line-by-line costs for the materials needed for a construction project, like cement for foundations or wall studs for framing. This takes into account a number of things, including the price of materials at local market levels and any logistical expenses involved in shipping these materials to the construction site from distribution centers or warehouses.
It will also need to determine whether the project includes any nonstandard items, such as an unusual floor plan or unique features that could drive up the overall cost of the building. This information will be used to solicit bids from specialty contractors that can best handle the nonstandard elements of the job.
Construction estimators have a high level of analytical skills and are able to look at the big picture while also focusing on the smallest details. They often work closely with rank-and-file construction workers, but will also interact with engineers and other senior-level personnel within a company.
The material takeoff, also referred to as a quantity or construction takeoff, is an important step in the cost estimating process. It involves a thorough examination of blueprints and architectural drawings to quantify the exact quantities of materials required for each project element. The material takeoff is an essential tool for ensuring that the right materials are ordered and delivered on time, which reduces costly delays and rework.
While the takeoff is typically done by hand, there are a variety of digital tools available that can help streamline this process and increase accuracy. In addition, the estimating team should establish a quality control process that includes peer reviews and consistency checks to ensure accuracy. It is also helpful to stay informed of new industry standards, especially when it comes to measurements and calculations.
A material takeoff provides two types of information: a comprehensive list of required materials, and a breakdown of estimated costs for each of those materials. Estimators may use various methods to determine these costs, including getting bids from material suppliers and using their own internal database of frequently used items. They must be careful to include accurate descriptions of each item, such as the type and grade of material or the size of the load-bearing beam, in order to prevent any miscommunication or misunderstandings.
A work package is a smaller part of a project that requires specific expertise. The work package may be based on architectural, structural or mechanical drawings. General contractors will perform a material takeoff to determine the quantity of materials required to complete each work package. Specialty contractors will review the specifications and work with a general contractor to ensure they have an accurate count before reaching out to suppliers and vendors.
The work package is used to determine a cost estimate and create a bid. Estimators will use spreadsheets or estimating software to create estimates. Spreadsheets offer a quick and easy way to make calculations, but they are not as accurate as estimating software that is uploaded with databases of material costs.
Estimating software allows estimators to create line-by-line cost and quantity estimates that can be used for bidding, scope of work analysis and project planning. The software also typically includes templates, preconfigured formulas and calculations and localized material cost databases. There are different types of estimating software, from free open-source options like 2-plan Team and Wanhive to specialized software that is tailored for a specific type of construction project, such as Sage Estimating or Buildxact.
The decomposition of a project into work packages is essential for developing the Work Breakdown Structure and ensuring that deliverables can be completed within an authorized cost baseline or budget. The work package approach is also important for determining potential risks that could impact project completion on schedule and budget.