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4 Min. Read

What Do Construction Estimators Do?

What Do Construction Estimators Do?

The construction estimator has a crucial role. Yet, they are also some of the least recognized participants in the construction industry. It’s important to note that there’s no price allocation for construction projects. Rather, it is the duty of the estimator to prepare a bill of materials.

In doing so, they can determine the cost estimates related to the construction project. Does this sound simple on the surface? Construction estimation is actually time-consuming, tedious, and requires the high-level skills of estimators.

Here’s What We’ll Cover:

Construction Estimator Responsibilities

Daily Challenges

Key Takeaways

Construction Estimator Responsibilities

It’s true that construction estimation serves as its own specialty. But estimators usually have backgrounds in several research fields related to the industry. Experience in design, such as architecture or engineering, is common for construction estimators.

Of course, this makes total sense. One of the primary parts of the designing process is to determine the best materials needed to complete the architectural design. But the estimator may also have a degree in mathematics. And some have extensive work experience in construction management and manufacturing.

Just as important as their work background is the special skills estimators use day in and day out. Estimation requires razor-sharp accuracy and analytical skills.

Construction cost estimators do more than keep track of the materials used in the construction process. They also need to make specific measurements of the materials, as well as the quantity of every item used. If the material count is wrong, the estimation will be wholly inaccurate.

To consider all the necessary materials, the estimator needs to be able to see the project from many perspectives.

In most cases, the estimation is built from scratch. This means that the estimator starts from the building’s foundation and moves upwards as they consider materials. Yet, the project may sometimes involve many buildings or construction types within one building.

In these cases, the estimator must figure out the best way to plan for different building types. In addition to analytical and mathematical skills, estimators must also have strong communication. This is because they work with a multitude of construction professionals.

First, the construction estimator works with architects, designers, and engineers. Together, they review the project plan. The designer creates a technical document covering the project’s scope. Then, the estimator asks questions to ensure that no critical details get overlooked.

Second, cost estimators work with a variety of people, including:

  • Equipment and material suppliers
  • Labor unions
  • Contractors

In doing so, they can better determine labor costs and material prices. Finally, the estimator needs to provide a detailed description of completed estimates to many parties.

Daily Challenges

Using a fixed budget and schedule can also prove to be challenging. Suppose someone working on the project has unreal expectations. This could include:

  • Construction foreman
  • Contractor
  • Designer
  • Owner

They might not like the budget or time tracking of the construction process, for example. As such, the estimator might feel pressured to report an inaccurate estimate cost.

This unfortunate situation can lead to project overspending. And in turn, this can lead to cost overruns for the owner. This is a difficult position. Yet, precise accuracy is critical to the work of the estimator. Inaccurate estimates can harm the reputation of the estimator and the working relationship.

Perhaps the most challenging part of the estimator’s job is foretelling the future. It is often not enough to create an accurate estimate of the current cost. This is because the estimated project may not start for another 6 months. In some cases, some don’t start for another year or more.

This means the construction cost estimator is always on the move. And always changing are:

  • Material costs
  • Labor supply
  • Equipment

Thus, construction estimating must stay in line with market trends.

Supply or labor shortages may cause prices to exceed normal levels. What’s more, they can undermine the accuracy of estimates when the project finally starts. And this can happen even if the estimates match the market price upon completion.

Key Takeaways

For these reasons, you must have reliable data and information on construction costs. Trying to use old cost data to estimate the project will make the work of the estimator more difficult.

Fortunately, there are some tools to help with this. Thanks to FreshBooks, you can ensure that your project’s cost data never falls behind. And for even more business-related insights, head on over to our Resource Hub.


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