Preparing an estimate for home additions, renovations, and large construction is a combination of skills and techniques, which must be completed accurately. As an estimator you need to make labour estimates, materials estimates, and job overhead estimates. Here are several steps to preparing an estimate. These steps will help you start your estimating process properly.
- The first step in preparing an estimate is clarifying the scope of work. You must be clear on the customer specifications, such as materials, permits, and type of construction. The estimator must know the proposed start date of the project, the way to resubmit the estimate, by fax, email or in person, and who to call if you have any questions.
- The second step is to decide whether the project will be carried out in house or outsourced. If the work is being outsourced you should start to contact your sub-contractors immediately to provide them with the necessary documents to prepare their estimates. Most sub-contractor will ask for an Adobe (PDF format) File or and AutoCAD (DWG format) file. Find ways to convert your documents to these formats.
- Third, make sure you visit the proposed construction site to clarify any discrepancies in the drawings and specifications. Arrange the site visit so that your sub-trades can be present. Bring a measuring tape, a digital camera, and your marketing gear. Take as many pictures as possible, this is not the time to be timid. Check any measurements that did not make sense on the drawing, and remember to bring promotional gear.
- The fourth step in preparing an estimate is gathering prices for materials from local suppliers. It would be in you best interest to find reliable suppliers close to the construction site. Finding suppliers close the site will avoid unnecessary traffic delays, and cut delivery time and cost. You can contact your regular suppliers and ask them if they can refer you to someone closer to your job-site.
- Putting together the estimate is the fifth step. The estimate can be prepared manually, in Microsoft excel, or with an estimating software. If you plan to do a lot of estimates, I would recommend doing your research on a good estimating program. The estimating program alone will save you a great deal of time. Take your time and prepare your estimate. Add all the necessary materials and there prices. All the expected overhead cost, such as insurance, permits, and operating cost and the labour cost. A good estimating system will cut your time considerably.
- Reviewing the estimate before bid day is the sixth step. The day before you submit your estimate check to make sure there are no materials missing and the numbers are accurate. Submitting an incorrect bid will cost you the job, or cost you money.
- Seventh step is to submit the estimate by fax, email or in-person. Know the delivery method required. Submit the estimate in a professional format. Arrange for the deadline before it arrives; do not get caught off guard. Most importantly do not be late; the estimate can be rejected if submitted late.
Estimating can take up a lot of your time; the key is to create great estimating systems that consist of programs that make the estimating process easy to handle and quicker to produce. And remember that you will not get every job, the point is to create enough accurate estimates, which will better your chances of getting more jobs.