Commonly_Missed_Line_Items_Costs_Construction_ Estimate

Commonly Missed Line Items and Costs in a Construction Estimate

We’ve all been there, the estimate was completed in a near impossible time frame, reviewed quickly and fired off to the client. Upon a more detailed review with the client, you stumble upon a large gap in the estimate. Something you cannot believe you’ve forgotten. No estimate is 100% accurate otherwise it’d be known as an “exactimate” and no one can predict the future. But here are a few items that can often be missed as they tend to be more “mean and methods” line items and not necessarily noted in the documents


  1. Dewatering – Not all sites require dewatering but there are many that do. Familiarize yourself with the project location briefly and assess if a dewatering allowance should be included. Request a Geotechnical Report, if one isn’t available, note on your estimate that you are making assumptions without the report.

  3. Temporary Shoring – Whether its site shoring adjacent to an existing foundation structure or roadway, or shoring of an existing structure within a renovated building, temporary shoring is not always covered in a subcontractor’s price. When taking off demolition and site work keep in mind how the work may actually play out.

  5. Temporary Protection – Whether the project is an occupied renovation or a partial renovation, protecting adjacent finishes and occupants is a must. Some documents include a temporary projection plan with temporary partitions and temporary floor protection indicated but many instances this would be considered “means and methods”.

  7. Routing Pipe/Conduit Outside of Construction for Tie-in – More often than not, there is a note to tie new pipe or power into existing services somewhere outside of the renovated space but the location or path through the existing building isn’t shown. Be sure to include temporary projection and removal/reinstall of ceilings as well as the pipe/conduit length to tie the newly renovated space into the existing facility.

  9. Firestopping – Talk to the subcontractors that will require firestopping (MEP, partitions, etc.) and ensure they have this scope of work covered.

  11. Mockups – Typically noted within the individual specification sections, mockups can add up quickly depending on the requirements and the project. If this is a conceptual or schematic estimate with no specifications provided, keep in mind that the following trades typically require some form of mockup: masonry restoration (repair/patch, replace, repointing), exterior façade systems (dissimilar material tie-in), windows, curtainwall/storefront systems.

  13. Floor Prep/Leveling – Renovation of an existing building may require floor patching, prep or leveling depending on the condition of the existing building. These costs can add up quickly depending on the product used.

  15. LEED Testing – If the client has a goal of accomplishing some level of LEED, there will be testing required to meet the certification. Although it may not be costly, it is something that should be considered and included in the General Conditions or Mechanical divisions.

  17. Commissioning – Commissioning may be contracted as a 3rd party by the owner or the A/E team but sometimes is required to be covered by the Contractor. A discussion early on in design with the team is recommended.

  19. Sales Tax – There are many sectors that fall under the tax-exempt guidelines but ones that typically don’t include retail, hospitality, and privately funded projects.

  21. Access – Whether it’s worker access or access for material management, including the appropriate measures in an estimate is important (i.e. material hoist, scaffolding, crane, lift, etc.)

  23. Escalation – There are so many factors that go into an escalation factor (current local projects, material availability, manpower shortage) and predicting how these factors will trend in the 6 months, 1 year or 10 years is almost impossible. Nevertheless, it’s important to include a factor for any project with a construction start after 3 months from the time the estimate is assembled. A good rule of thumb is 0.5% per month after three months until the construction start date. But be sure to take into consideration the project location and the current market conditions as well as the duration for the project.