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5 Min. Read

How to Calculate a Building Material Estimate

Estimating how much material you are going to need depends on what you need it for. But whatever it is, that last thing that you need is to start a project and then not be able to complete it because you ran out of money. The good news is that there are some things you can do to find actual costs with an accurate building material estimate.

It’s important to consider the major differences between what you need and what you don’t. The details that you put into your estimate are crucial. For example, if you budget too low or don’t take all the moving parts into account it can negatively affect how you proceed. Establishing a checklist can help make sure you cover all your construction costs.

It can make the cost estimating process even simpler and more organized. It’s easy to forget things sometimes when you have so much to worry about. So having a checklist for everything you need to estimate will allow you to complete the process accurately. You should also take into account things like labor pricing and the cost of raw materials.

Here is everything you need to know to calculate a building material estimate!

Here’s What We’ll Cover:

Start From the Ground Up

Consider the Exterior

Things to Keep In Mind for Accurate Estimates

Key Takeaways

Start From the Ground Up

Depending on your construction project needs you could start somewhere different. But most construction projects start at the bottom. Figure out the cubic yards or square footage by multiplying the length, width and height. You can use this information to help figure out how much concrete you need, for example.

Once you know the specific dimensions, you can start to calculate the things you need for framing. To figure out material prices for two-by-fours, you can convert the length from feet into inches by multiplying them by 12. Then, divide that number by 16 to determine how many two-by-fours you need.

You can also use similar calculations to find the cost of materials needed for things like sheathing, for example. The likes of drywall, paneling and plywood typically come in four-by-eight-sized sheets. Find the square footage of one sheet and use it to find the square footage of the wall. The number you get will determine how much you require.

Consider the Exterior

Does your building material estimate require calculations for things like decking or roofing? By calculating the square footage of a roof or specific area, you can determine what you need. Things like rafters to frame the roof or plywood sheets you need to finish it off.

Find the width of the roof and multiply it by the length. Then, take that number and divide it by the square footage of a single square of shingles or plywood. You’ll know exactly how much material you will need to finish the project.

You can use similar calculations to figure out an estimate for all sorts of materials. It all depends on your project and what you need. But accurately estimating your materials can help make sure you complete your project without a hitch.

Things to Keep In Mind for Accurate Estimates

There can be a lot of different moving parts that go into creating an accurate estimate. You could have completely different building material needs than another contractor. But there are some common things that everyone can keep in mind when calculating an estimate.

Make sure that you consider all of the elements of your project. Things like the total amount of hours needed, any materials required and any labor costs. You can then break down your project into different sections to estimate the cost of each element.

Using a master checklist can also be extremely helpful. You can ensure that you aren’t forgetting any important pieces of information. And it will also help take the right steps at the right time. Your overall project will become more productive and efficient.

It's also important to keep an eye on market conditions throughout your building project estimation process. Material prices can fluctuate depending on demand and supply. And depending on the market condition, the change in the price of raw materials can affect the estimation process.

Key Takeaways

Calculating accurate material estimates from the beginning will increase the possibility of success. Knowing exactly what you need and how much it will cost will avoid any delays and work stoppages. But there can be a lot of information to keep in mind.

It again depends on the type of materials you need, but here are a few additional things to keep in mind:

  • The cost of labor or staffing requirements
  • If there are any land acquisition costs for the project
  • Operational and administrative costs
  • Any potential risks, like market fluctuation
  • The utility cost for the project

The estimation or takeoff process can be a time-consuming task to complete. However, getting all your ducks in a row before you move forward with anything will make sure everything runs smoothly. You can avoid the possibility of any delays and maximize your budget.

Project success starts with accurately calculating a detailed estimate. But, you still need to execute your strategy to get the best possible results. The good news is that you now have the information to get started with a basic cost estimation.

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