Any construction project involves multiple people coming together as a team, including architects, engineers, contractors and more. However, before the foundation is laid or the first nail is hammered; another important member of the team needs to perform their role – the construction cost estimator.
Construction projects typically have a set budget they need to adhere to for the project to even get out of the ground. Without an accurate estimate, costs could quickly balloon and push the project over budget.
Construction cost estimators are typically hired by:
- Construction Managers.
- General Contractors.
- Government and facility officials.
While estimators can help kick off projects by providing an estimate, they typically stay involved through the duration, from early design through the bidding process, making adjustments along the way. Given how closely an accurate estimate and cost projection ties into the success of any given project, it is of critical importance to make sure you are working with a construction cost estimating company that you trust.
Here are a few things you should look for when choosing a construction estimating company:
- Experience. Estimating construction costs is a very complicated process. While every company has to start somewhere, prospective clients will want to choose a company that has either been in business for a while or if it’s newer, was founded by seasoned industry vets.
- Accuracy. When it comes to construction projects, the devil is in the details. One transposed number can easily throw an entire budget out of whack. To evaluate a firm’s accuracy, take a close look at any proposals or past projects they send you to review. If you find mistakes, move on to the next potential firm.
- Diverse Client Base. Specialists have their place, but construction estimating companies that have worked with a wide variety of clients, from municipal to transportation to education to healthcare, will be more well-rounded and better able to adapt to the changing needs of a project. Every project is unique, but the more exposure your estimating team has had to diverse project types, the better they will be able to adapt to anything out of the ordinary that might arise during the design.
- Professional Affiliations. One of the marks of a true professional is if they belong to associations that show that they possess the necessary skills and experience. When it comes to construction estimating some of the professional affiliations to look for include the Association for the Advancement of Cost Engineering and the American Society of Professional Estimators.
- Methodology. Only a few decades ago, estimating was a very manual process. But with the rise of technology, there are now software programs that do a lot of the heavy lifting and can help reduce errors. Seek out a firm that uses construction estimating software. You should look for firms that use software programs such as On Center, PlanSwift, STACK Takeoff & Estimating, etc. These software programs are a tool used to efficiently quantify how much material is needed for a project otherwise known as Project Takeoff. During the takeoff process, each type of material is counted including how many cubic yards of concrete, studs, sheets of drywall, light fixtures, etc. An accurate takeoff is essential in developing the estimate of the project.
If you are beginning your search for a construction cost estimating firm, make sure you do your research. Find a reputable firm with experience, knowledge and the tools to provide you with the most accurate project estimate.