Construction Estimating Secrets – part 1

Construction Estimating Secrets – Part 1

Like the tools in your tool belt, construction estimating is crucial to the survival of your construction company! How you approach construction estimating is an indicator of how successful, or NOT, your construction company will be!

Based on 30 years of talking with contractors of every stripe some successful and many not, I’ve discovered the secrets that make their companies successful. There are many little ones that are used from day to day, but there are just a few that will make the difference in your company.

Measure the Job Accurately

You can’t have an accurate, money making estimate if you haven’t started with accurate measurements of what your going to build. Too many contractors will go out and eyeball the job to start their estimate.

Let’s say you are going to cut a board. Would you look at the opening you are going to cut if for and think “that’s about 22 1/2 inches”. Then you pick up the board and start cutting the board at what you think is 22 1/2 inches. Would you expect the board to fit? Unless you are the luckiest guy I know, it will never fit!

No, you take out your tape and measure the opening. Then, using your tape again, you mark exactly the same measurement on the board. You may even measure again to confirm your measurement. After that, you cut the board.

So, why would you estimate a job without accurate measurements? It doesn’t make any sense. Screwing up a measurement on a board may cost a few dollars. But, screwing up the measurements on a job can cost you BIG!

Use Measurable Items for Construction Estimating

Construction Estimating for the success of your companyWhat do I mean by “measurable items”? Measurable items are items that you take off in measurements, like: per linear foot; square foot; cubic meter; linear centimeter; etc.

The Advantage of Measurable Items is Two Fold

First, you are not guessing. When you are calculating the cost of a specific feature you can calculate it accurately. Let’s say you estimate a project today. And, you come back 3 months from now and estimate the project. Measurable Items are the only way you can do that and get EXACTLY the same answer.

So, let’s say you are doing a takeoff for a wall. You would calculate your cost for the wall either per linear foot or per square foot. If your cost for materials is, let’s say, $3 a linear foot and your cost for labor cost is $5 per linear foot, your cost (not what you are going to sell it for) is $8 per linear foot of wall.

So, if you have a 10 foot wall your cost for the wall is going to be $80 and a 12 foot wall is $96. Hopefully, you can see how this actually simplifies your job as an estimator. In one respect it may seem rigid and uncomfortable. On the other hand it eliminates the uncertainty of guessing all the time and wondering if you made the right guesses.

Construction Estimate Secrets Part 2 will continue this discussion.

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