Keys to being a Good / Great Estimator

I found this article recently in an American construction blog and thought it worth repeating here for those that follow this blog site who are from the analytical world of Estimating or provide that function on behalf of your company.

Some very valid items raised the ‘Review the Job’ point is excellent and very true. I would hope to write my own view on the subject in the near future but in the meantime read on…

So what does it take to be a good estimator? Being great with numbers?  Having a desire to color on drawings all day?  There are a few key traits I have found in my career that really separates the great estimators from the rest of them.  Let’s recall how I defined an estimator’s job as: finding the lowest cost solution to the project as would be acceptable to the client while identifying the potential pitfalls and risks of the project to others.  I am aware that this definition is probably a little short of some you definitions, since in some organizations the person Estimating is also doing sales, but those are two different jobs, so I would like to keep the separated.

Review the Job (Don’t just Start Counting)
If as an estimator we need to find the lowest cost solution, we really need to understand the project.  This is not a minor detail, as time is always our worst enemy.  Like a General going into battle, stand on the hill and survey the situation, don’t just going running down into battle.  The great estimators I have seen spend about 10% of the total time to estimate reviewing the project with no takeoff.  This allows them to understand the entire project and also allows them to get inside the Owner’s head as to why they are doing things.

Find an Acceptable Fast Take-Off Approximation
I am going to say that the most routine and easiest part of the estimator’s job is quantity survey or take-off.  This is not where the job is won and even with the most precise and time consuming methods out there, remember that this is only an estimate.  To believe that you can be that exact in a short period of time is being naive.  So you should come up with some methodology that will allow you to approximate as quickly as possible.  Always test this techniques with your peers and superiors to ensure that the science is sound.

Utilize an Estimating Software Platform that is Easy
Estimating software can be cumbersome quickly and can take a significant portion of your time.  In reality you actually only need it to do calculations for you and have a database of materials.  The rest of the functionality like database price updating, price break-outs, charts, etc. are just good to have.  Don’t get caught up in more functionality that then takes more time.

Analyze Your Bid
As estimators, their are typically other(s) that come in and review the final number and approve of what we have done, which is not always a good thing.  Don’t get me wrong I am not against people reviewing estimates, but too many times I see the estimator come in with no review done, since it will be done in the meeting.  A bid review by management is not a replacement for an estimator’s personal review.  This is the most important step!!!  Analyze what you are doing.  Is the number right, can we route something differently to save money, is there value engineering, what if I got that item quoted by subcontractor in lieu of self performing, I wonder if my client picked that up too, etc..  In the traditional bid review the discussion is more about did you get everything estimated and what margin should we go out at, where as your personal review can be about all of the other difficult parts to your job.  If you are not reviewing the job alone, you are setting yourself up for failure, it is that simple.

Remember, being an estimator is a difficult job which requires learning, processing, and pricing a job typically in a few days or weeks.  However, if there is a systematic process to your madness, there is no reason every job cannot be done by a Great Estimator.

If you require any assistance with your estimating, measurement take off needs or need the full services of an experienced Estimator her in the UK. Please contact Andrew Fella at Onyx Consultants Ltd. on 01473 743682

Onyx Construction Consultants Services

Onyx Construction Consultants Limited provide a comprehensive range of professional, commercial and management skills for the construction industry to Developers, Contractors and Subcontractors.

Specialists in all aspects of residential development with an emphasis on groundworks for residential as well as commercial projects, roads & sewers and trade subcontract packages.

Among the services we currently provide to our clients are:

•Quantity Surveying
•Estimating
•Land Appraisal
•Value Engineering
•Cost Planning and Management
•Contractor and Material Procurement
•Project Management
•Consortium Site Management
•Subcontractor Marketing
From our offices in Ipswich, Onyx are able to provide services to clients throughout East Anglia and the Home Counties, covering sites in Suffolk, Essex, Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire, as far west as Buckinghamshire and Kent to the south.

The benefits to clients of Onyx is having access to a reliable and quality Quantity Surveying and Construction Management service without the need for employing full time staff and all the associated costs.

For more information on our services and how we can help you contact Andrew Fella on 01473 743682

About Onyx Construction Consultants

Formed in 2004 by Andrew Fella its Managing Director a specialist with over 25 years experience in Residential Development and Groundwork Contracting  working for some of the leading national house builders and large regional groundwork contractors.

Onyx Construction Consultants brings together a number of specialist in-house and external consultants using traditional and modern methods to deliver Quantity Surveying, Estimating, Project Management and Specialist Marketing solutions.

Our works range from the production of a Bill of Quantities for a specialist subcontractor to the management of major consortium developments where Onyx form an integral part of the construction team.

Current clients include: 

  • 3 of the top 10 National House Builders
  • Regional Developers within the East Anglia and Northern Home Counties
  • Care Home Contractors and Developers
  • Civil Engineering Companies
  • Groundwork Contractors
  • Bricklaying Subcontractors
  • Carpentry Subcontractors
  • Plastering Subcontractors 

Whether working as an individual surveyor on behalf of a subcontractor, as members of a design team providing full quantity surveying services or as project management advisers, our knowledge, understanding and flexibility ensures for successful, cost effective and timely completion to projects with the least possible fuss.

Hello and Welcome to our Blog Page

You have found yourself on the Blog Site of Onyx Construction Consultants Ltd.

A Quantity Surveying Practice based in Ipswich in the east of England.

Our activities do not just extend to Quantity Surveying alone and we ask that you refer to our About and Services pages for more information on what else we can do for you.

Through this Blog site we also hope to inform our colleagues and clients out there of our services, views on current construction events, general points of construction interest and provide information which we hope will be very useful to those that read it.

We also welcome your comments and your own views on any of the future topics we raise as well as ask that you feel free to raise your own topics for our comments.

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