By: Mark Fly on October 23rd, 2020
Bid Coach: How to Get Accurate Construction Project Estimates
Whether you're an owner, a general contractor, or a subcontractor, getting an accurate construction estimate on each project line item can feel like the most difficult step in the preconstruction process. If you estimate too high, then the bid may go to someone else. Estimate too low, then win the bid and it turns out to be a nightmare of a project. Understanding what you need to help you produce the best project estimate is extremely important.
While the definition of the word "Estimating" means to roughly calculate or judge the value, number, quantity, or extent of—it does not anywhere say this is a fixed price. But good luck with that description! The fixed price will be the end result, your proposal.
With that said, when you're estimating line items you should use all of the knowledge you have, all of the tools you have access to, swag numbers, proposals, etc. to get the best estimate you can to make it a profitable line item for that project.
Check out the below tips to help you get the accurate estimates you need to win a profitable construction project.
- Use a Master Checklist - It's very easy to forget things like permits, landscaping, etc. Use a master checklist to make sure you complete necessary steps and items. You can also take advantage of using a construction bid software, like SmartBid, to manage all the estimating information in one location and reduce errors.
- Use the Unit Cost Estimating Method - Unit cost estimating is twice as fast as stick estimating and just as accurate. Unit costing incorporates the following steps:
- Compile all the line items for that job
- Assign a unit cost to each line item
- Total the numbers and have them checked by a second party
- Apply a markup
- Get Help in Areas Where You Lack Expertise – If you don’t know a lot about a specific line item, you’re not going to be as thorough in your estimates. Use online templates or predefined modules or even ask subcontractors/consultants who may have more experience in that area.
- Check Your Subcontractor Quotes - Go through the same steps in evaluating your subcontractors' quotes as you do when looking at your own. Compare multiple subs for each scope of work to make sure you're covering or uncovering any gaps.
- Implement an Estimating Software – There are so many more tools that you can access now that than you couldn’t 10 years ago. Make sure you’re taking advantage of a top software like ConstructConnect Takeoff, PlanSwift, or OnCenter, which allows you to quickly measure digital plans, customize pricing, and more from the cloud.
Here are some other great related articles:
5 Things You Should Never Leave Out of Your Bid
How to Improve Bid Accuracy
10 Tips for Submitting Better Bids
Bid and Win More Construction Products
Win with a Bid Strategy
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About Mark Fly
Mark Fly is a Product Evangelist at ConstructConnect. He is also known as the Bid Coach to subscribers of his popular video series. Mark has 40 years of experience in construction, rising through the ranks from a labor position in high school to play a key role in the development of SmartBid software. He has also provided multi-faceted outsourced estimating services for many years, working directly with owners, GCs, subcontractors, suppliers, and more.