Whether you’re an owner, a general contractor or a subcontractor, getting an accurate construction estimate on each project line item can feel like the most difficult step in the preconstruction process. If you estimate too high, then the bid may go to someone else. Estimate too low, then win the bid and it turns out to be a nightmare of a project. Understanding what you need to help you produce the best project estimate is extremely important.
What exactly does the word estimating mean? Estimating means to roughly calculate or judge the value, number, quantity or extent of – it does not anywhere say this is a fixed price. Which means, when you’re estimating line items you should use all of the knowledge you have, all of the tools you have access to, swag numbers, proposals, etc. to get the best estimate you can to make it a profitable line item for that project.
Check out the below tips to help you get the accurate estimates you need to win a profitable construction project.
- Use a Master Checklist – It’s very easy to forget things like permits, landscaping, etc. Use a master checklist to make sure you complete necessary steps and items. You can also take advantage of using a construction bid software, like SmartBid, to manage all the estimating information in one location and reduce errors.
- Use the Unit Cost Estimating Method – Unit cost estimating is twice as fast as stick estimating and just as accurate. Unit costing incorporates the following steps: Compile all the line items for that job > Assign a unit cost to each line item >Total the numbers and have them checked by a second party > Apply a markup
- Get Help in Areas Where You Lack Expertise – If you don’t know a lot about a specific line item, you’re not going to be as thorough in your estimates. Use online templates or predefined modules or even ask subcontractors/consultants who may have more experience in that area.
- Check Your Subcontractor Quotes – Go through the same steps in evaluating your subcontractors’ quotes as you do when looking at your own. Compare multiple subs for each scope of work to make sure you’re covering or uncovering any gaps.
- Implement an Estimating Software – There are so many more tools that you can access now that than you couldn’t 10 years ago. Make sure you’re taking advantage of a top software like PlanSwift or OnCenter, which allows you to quickly measure digital plans, customize pricing and more from the cloud.
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