Whether you intend to work on a large or small construction project, you will require a construction estimator before you even begin any work. A Construction estimator will give an estimate of the amount needed for the project based on your specifications and drawing. Construction estimators can mar or make a company’s project bid.
Construction estimation may sound easy to people not in the construction business, but on the contrary, it can be a tasking and time-consuming process.
This article will enlighten you on all you need to know about job estimator contractors.
Who is a Construction Estimator?
A construction estimator is someone that draws an estimate of the total cost of a project. This estimate comprises fees, overheads, and numerous items in the project. A construction estimator collaborates with clients, vendors, architects, and engineers to get these estimates. They are also known as a cost planner in the construction industry.
What Does an Estimator Do?
You can not just “wing it” or make use of the” one size fits all” principle for project costs. Each project has its own size, cost, materials, deadlines, and functions. Therefore, an estimator plays a crucial role in any and every project.
The role of an estimator role includes the following:
- An estimator draws up cost estimates of project costs on equipment, labor, and materials. Their calculations are based on schematic drawings, quotations, specifications, and contract bids.
- Construction estimators report procedures; hence they require excellent communication skills.
- Estimators give recommendations on tendering procedures. They recommend awards, conduct negotiations, and assess tenders.
- They are required to make a directory of chiefly suppliers, contractors, subcontractors, and suppliers.
- They work with engineers, project owners, architects, and contractors when conducting feasibility studies on adjusting cost estimates.
- During the project, they put together expenditure statements frequently to confirm if the project is going as planned.
Types of Estimators
There are various types of construction estimators depending on the size of a project. Estimators can hold different positions in several construction projects.
Essentially, construction estimators are classified based on their employers. Below are the different types of construction estimators
- The Client’s Cost Estimator: This type of estimator makes decisions on investment at a project’s conceptual stage. They negotiate and conclude a contract, then put cost control measures in place.
- Engineer’s Cost Estimator: In this case, the construction estimator doubles as the client’s cost estimator. Their sole purpose is to find out the estimated costs and hand them over to the client. They also assess other construction methods that will be cost-efficient.
- Contractor’s Cost Estimator: These estimators determine the estimated project costs required for bidding. They also have the company’s data in their database containing the company’s labor and equipment records. These estimators also decide the best construction techniques for the company.
Estimator And Takeoffs
It is important for cost estimators to make a list of the materials needed to take a project to its completion. This list is called a takeoff or material takeoff. The list of materials combined with their individual costs substantially impacts the total cost.
When creating a takeoff, estimators study the schematics and blueprints of the project and build a comprehensive list of the materials needed for the project. This includes materials like wood for framing, roofing materials, supplies for wiring and plumbing, concrete for the foundation, and even materials like screws, hinges, and nails.
Once a construction estimator has curated a list of all the materials needed for a project, they can then proceed to include the price of those materials. Estimators must make sure the prices allocated to each material are very close to their anticipated future prices when the project is concluded.
More so, construction estimators need to consider the weight of the materials to enable them to take into account moving the materials to the job site where it is needed.
Creating a material takeoff can be a time-consuming and tasking process but is essential in getting an accurate cost for a project. Inaccuracies are not tolerated in a material takeoff because they can result in cost overages, which will have an effect on the financial success of the designated construction company. Because of that, construction estimators spend a whole lot of time accounting for every material needed and their real cost when developing a takeoff.
The Importance of Construction Estimates
Usually, the first cost estimate in construction projects can not compare to the final project’s cost. Construction estimators assist stakeholders of a project in making essential decisions on the feasibility and profitability of a project.
The acquisition of the financing of a project is dependent on the estimator’s report. Stakeholders can also make decisions that can impact the costs positively and negatively as the project advances. A construction estimator needs to critically look at the design and material choices and design choices and counsel the client appropriately on ways to reduce costs yet boost the value.
An estimator’s most important role is ensuring a project is delivered on time and within budget. The contractor and developer are held responsible for cost overruns. Simply put, Construction estimators provide their client information essential for making important decisions on a project.
Becoming a Construction Estimator
Most employers need construction estimators to meet certain educational requirements, while some look for teachable, quick to learn, and enthusiastic people. The following are the educational qualifications or training and skills needed.
Generally, you need the educational requirement below to become a construction estimator:
- At least 3.0 cumulative high school GPA.
- A Bachelor’s Degree in Quantity Surveying, Civil Engineering, building studies or Construction Management. The courses needs to have at least 1 unit covering construction tendering and estimation.
- Building skills in information technology is also crucial.
- You would also require three or more years of experience overseeing construction projects.
The appropriate skills place construction estimators in better positions to get good jobs and great pay. The necessary skills are:
- Mathematical prowess: Construction estimators require mathematical skills to be able to calculate minor discrepancies in projects.
- Keen Eye for Details: Construction estimators need to have an eye for detail as they are required to work with numerous reports and blueprints. All equipment, labor, and materials need to be properly understood to build good reports.
- Time Management: Construction estimators need to be excellent at time management to ensure they meet the scheduled timeframe.
- Critical thinking: Other skills include critical thinking and organization as construction estimators need to give their inputs to the stakeholders of the project throughout the various stages of construction.
- Amazing Communication skills: Estimators get to work with different people and thus need strong communication skills to facilitate communication among the project stakeholders.
Cost estimation is an essential job in construction, so the demand for them will continue to increase. Companies will always seek the help of estimators for construction growth. Cost estimators have various career choices, which include:
- Building construction cost estimators
- Project managers
- Procurement managers
- Cost consultants
- Quality control specialists.
Challenges Construction Estimators Face
Like every other career, construction estimators also face many challenges.
The major challenge they face is working with fixed budgets and schedules. The contractor, designer, or client, may have unrealistic budget for the project but want the best materials. Therefore, the construction estimator may feel the need to report inaccurate cost estimates.
This is a rather unfortunate circumstance as this will make the project eventually run beyond the specified budget. Estimators need to be honest and accurate when working because such situations can ruin their work relationships and reputation.
Tools Construction Estimators Use
There are some job estimator app and tools for accuracy. These tools are mainly spreadsheets, simulation tools, and software applications.
- Estimating Software Tools:
Software has made the process of cost estimation easy. Estimating software assists estimators in avoiding too high or low bidding. The software gives room for the estimator to evaluate costs more precisely, thus presenting the best bid.
Spreadsheets are one of the top long-standing tools used in construction estimation. Complex Excel spreadsheets are popularly used to estimate. They are flexible, easy to use, suitable for visualization, and contain customization templates.
- Simulation Tools:
Simulation tools are used to quantify estimated accuracy and possible cost estimation errors.
How Much Do Construction Estimator Earn?
According to ZipRecruiter, a construction estimator’s average salary in the United States is $75,186 per annum as of June 2021. This ranges from $40,000-$112,000, depending on whether you are an entry-level or experienced construction estimator.
The salaries vary across different cities in the United States. The city with the highest salary is Sunnyvale in, California.
Construction estimators are crucial in every project. While it is almost impossible for the first estimates to equal the project’s actual costs, construction estimators offer the roadmap required to properly plan a project. No building is constructed without the expertise of an estimator, and every project that meets its scheduled timeframe and budget is a result of their skill. Overall, job estimation is a very exciting and lucrative career that requires numerous skills.