Estimating Consultants, Inc.
Construction Cost Consultants                                                              301.854.5660


The following process is typical of an estimator working for a General Contractor:

The process of estimating is easy to understand but difficult to perform in a timely manner.  Typically an estimator only has two weeks to complete all this work.  The deadline must be met regardless of any complication.  There are no acceptable excuses.  Many companies and many people depend upon this work being done in a professional, well executed manner.

Each project is very unique and requires an analysis and study of every major cost component in the job.  The first thing that must be done is to read the specifications from cover to cover, build a bid sheet and take notes of those items that might be of concern.  The plans are reviewed for items that are not included in the specifications and the bid sheet is adjusted to include these items.   Unique items that may cause bid day issues are identified early and pulled out for special consideration and additional work.  If a general contractor self performs certain trades - these items of work are identified.  A select subcontractor bid list is developed and those subcontractors are contacted as soon as possible.  The most important thing an estimator can do is to establish a reliable network of subcontractors who are motivated to bid work for you and who reliably are the lowest bid in their trade.  Regardless of how good you are as an estimator, if you don't have subcontractors who want to work for you - you won't be in business for very long.  Never shop for subcontractor prices.  This is unacceptable.  Work hard to get the trade coverage you need on bid day and you won't be tempted to shop for lower subcontractor bids to meet a budget.  Remember one thing here.  Subcontractors must be treated with respect and they must be treated fairly because you depend upon them.

For the next two weeks the estimator will continuously be in contact with the subcontractor community making sure they will bid the work on bid day, have the correct scope of work and make sure they have all the necessary documents.  Also during this time the estimator will do their own estimates on any self performing work.  Lastly, the estimator must estimate any trade where subcontractor coverage, or scope problems make obtaining a bid problematic.  Again, there are no excuses for not having a bid for a trade - even if it is your own number. 

To develop the general conditions costs, a preliminary construction schedule is developed and manhours are established for all management and fixed costs necessary to manage the job to completion.

As bid day approaches the estimator will contact the bonding company for current labor insurance wage rates and any bond costs necessary to be included in the project.  And of course the insurance company must be contacted for a price on any special insurance required from the specifications.

On bid day everything must be ready to handle all the information coming in from the subcontracting community.  For large projects this is no easy task.  Many fax machines must be tied in series in order to handle the flow of paper coming into the office.  At least six people familiar with the project must be involved in digesting all the information and submitting it to the Chief Estimator for final review and inclusion on the bid sheet.  Above all, you must plan for things to go wrong.  Fast communication and expert knowledge are your only defense in this highly charged, fast paced environment of the bid day.

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