Thoughts That Build – Estimating…

I want to keep talking about the various careers in construction, as it pertains to general contractors and construction managers spoke about differences between project management, site supervision, talked about project coordination, but one of the key foundations to any successful business is their estimating department. Now, why that estimating is the foundation by which you try to capture everything you can see on the drawings. Everything you pick up, it’s not always so linear. You always have other projects on the go, there are tons of notes I mentioned in the blueprint reading, how you have to look at the electrical drawing with the architectural drawing, with the interior design drawing, with the h factoring and trying to make sure everything kind of fits together.

Now, try doing that in a week, ten days, two weeks depending on the size and scope of the project. How do you put all of that stuff together? Make sure you’ve captured everything that you can. I remember when I started in the industry, I worked with the company, my big company bird construction and I was an assistant estimator as a co-op student. I remember one day my supervisor asked me to count doors. So I counted these doors. I was so proud of myself and it came back and he said all right, what are the different sizes? It’s like what do you mean different sizes, to go back 30-inch door, 32-inch door, 36-inch door, now they’re 38-inch doors for universal washrooms accessibility went back to them. Here are the numbers that go all right which ones are fire rated, so you can see how all these things come into play.

The next thing you know just counting doors and frames took me the better part of today, this was a much larger project but once you try to put together the entire size and scope of the different sizes of doors, the different fire ratings of doors, the different hardware that comes into play, every cost is different for each door, some of them jump, some of them roughly stay the same but estimating again is the key part of the reason why it is as well is. It’s so important to try and visit a project site before you price the job. If you look behind me we’re just about to start a new project today and not everything is always picked up on the drawing sometimes in this particular case we’re supposed to demo portions of the space but the new drawings call for painted walls, now while the drawings call for the tiles as you see to be removed halfway down what happens up above when you look at it. It’s actually wallpaper so now you have options, do I just pull off the wallpaper and skim coat it? Do I remove the drywall completely, so now I have to go full sheets of drywall so not just your demo price change, now your drywall price changes as well these are the things you have to keep looking at as it pertains to a project.

Generally speaking, you’re going to be able to submit these questions to the client so everyone’s on an even playing field. Sometimes it’s not so simple, sometimes you don’t have that luxury sometimes when you’re dealing with independent business owners they’re not 100% sure of the exact process. So understanding the actual scope of work is key. I believe in clarity I don’t believe in just pricing as per the drawings you have to look a little bit outside the drawings and see how everything fits together in the real world. So keep that in mind if you want to get into the estimating department. It’s a vital role you need to have attention to detail. You need to have an analytical mind that sometimes you need to think outside the box as well and if that kind of suits you, estimating is key. It’s also a big-big advantage to get into estimating because you can springboard to other roles and go higher up as well because again it forms that foundation of understanding how to price work, how all these prices come together.