Construction estimators can be found working in both the building and product manufacturing industries. They help with bidding for large scale projects and ensure that contract bids cover all potential costs.
They can begin their career with a university degree in civil engineering, construction management or quantity surveying, or via an apprenticeship with a construction firm.
What is a construction estimator?
A construction estimator is the person who makes sure a building project’s budget stays within its limits. They make up detailed cost proposals for construction companies, liaise with clients and local authorities and are adept at finding materials suppliers.
They also have to be able to read architectural plans and understand how design decisions will affect the cost of the build. They add in things like the cost of ticketed workers for working on the roof or the need for elevated working platforms and keep a watchful eye on any upward trends.
As well as their building knowledge they need to have strong maths and analytical skills. They need to be able to count the number of items used to create a particular structure and keep accurate records. This is because they may be creating multiple work packages for the same project. This allows them to ensure that all work is accounted for, so that no contractors are paid for unaccounted labor.
They may be self-employed or a member of a construction firm and need to have good people skills as they frequently deal with clients. Some may have an undergraduate or higher national diploma in a subject such as structural engineering, civil engineering or quantity surveying. Others gain experience through an apprenticeship or take on a junior position in a construction company.
How do construction estimators calculate their costs?
Construction estimators must understand the complexities of cost estimation. The process is more difficult than it sounds and is a major factor in whether a construction company wins or loses a project bid. Construction estimators use a variety of tools and techniques to calculate the probable costs for materials, equipment, labor, and other elements that will make up the building. They review the construction drawings for constructability and accuracy, and they assess the subcontractors’ quotes for their parts of the job. They also use a tool like a project cost tracker to keep all of the contractor documentation organized in one place.
They must also adjust standardized cost data to account for local labor and material prices, which can vary from the national average. They have to factor in things like the weight of materials to determine how much trucking and storage costs will be. And they must adjust for the location of the site, which can affect how easy it is to transport workers and materials to the building site.
A construction estimator’s job requires strong analytical and mathematical skills. They also need to work closely with construction designers, who cover the technical aspects of a project. They often need to view designs multiple times in order to ensure that they don’t miss any details or assumptions.
What do construction estimators do?
Construction estimators use a combination of skills to create accurate cost estimates. These include reviewing blueprints, technical documents and project specifications to understand the scope of a building project. They also perform quantity takeoffs to compile a list of materials that will be needed to complete the project. They also research material costs, supplier pricing and industry developments. They often visit construction sites to gain a better understanding of the site conditions and any obstacles that could affect work speed, such as hilly terrain or poor drainage.
Estimators must also divide a project into a series of ‘work packages’, which are then assigned to individual specialty contractors, like electricians or plumbers. This ensures that all aspects of the project are accounted for, and that no one contractor is on the hook for unaccounted costs. However, it’s important that estimators don’t include too much detail in work packages, or else their ultimate bid will be higher than it needs to be.
Once they’ve completed a proposal, or negotiated back and forth with the client (for a private project), construction estimators must then get purchase orders and contracts signed for materials and subcontractors. They’re also responsible for calculating a profit margin and contingency. Profit margin is how much the contractor gets paid for their services, and contingency is money that is set aside for unforeseen expenses like weather or equipment issues.
How do construction estimators find work?
Construction estimators work for a variety of clients on a freelance basis. They may also be employed by a specific contractor or engineering company. Regardless of their employment status, freelancers must maintain their expertise and remain up to date on the latest cost estimation software to provide accurate estimates for their projects.
The first step in the process of estimating costs is to validate the scope of work document, building plans and project specifications. The next step is to conduct a site visit. This is a crucial part of the process, as it allows the estimator to get a better sense of the site conditions and how they may impact the cost of the project.
Finally, the estimator must review human resources and equipment requirements with the client. They will also research and collect quotes from different vendors for labor, construction materials and machinery. They may also evaluate alternative construction methods to find out which will be budget-friendly for their project.
Construction companies need estimators to ensure that their projects are running smoothly and on time. However, they cannot afford to hire a full-time department. A freelance takeoff services provider is a great solution for these businesses as they can save on initial investment and operating costs, as well as avoid the hassle of sourcing the right personnel.