Construction Estimating Questions & Answers
You ask the questions, we provide the answers.
Q. Why should my company hire you and what are the benefits?
- You only pay for us when you need us, and at reasonable rates!
- Why should your company be burdened with the cost of paying for an estimator in “down time?
- We provide estimates nationwide, for all clients which includes the related regional pricing factors.
- We provide our services on a first come first serve basis. Once you contract with us on a particular project, we guarantee to provide our service to only your company for that project and guarantee confidentiality.
- Our company has been estimating projects since 1903. It goes without saying that we have the experience in; commercial, municipal, governmental, industrial, historical, new residential, renovations and remodeling, design build, and green building projects.
- The service we provide you is an expense you can deduct on your tax returns just like any other subcontractor.
Q. Once we retain your service for a particular project will you contract with another company for the same project and do you maintain client confidentiality?
We guarantee to work only for the company that enters into an agreement with us for a particular project on a first come first serve basis.
Integrity, honesty, and ethics are paramount to us. We maintain Estimator-Client privilege because our livelihood and the success of our business depend upon it.
Q. Should I solicit bids from my usual vendors, subs, etc. and forward them to you?
Yes, we strongly encourage it. If your company receives proposals from vendors i.e. materials, subcontractors, equipment, etc. please forward these to our company. This will assist in the estimating process.
If desired we are also capable of attaining vendors from your local area for necessary proposals for the estimate. Keep in mind that this may increase the time to complete the estimate, affecting the final cost for the estimate.
Q. How will my company discuss and understand the logic used to arrive at the estimate amount?
When our company has completed your estimate, we discus the worksheets with you and can schedule an ‘online meeting’ to review the estimate together, line by line. This is an excellent opportunity to discuss the estimate logic regarding the take-off, in a team approach. In this meeting we can go over the estimate items; any questions or modifications can be made then or by you once you receive the report worksheets. Please note; Payment in full must be received prior to releasing the estimate reports . Our invoice will include a time allowance for the review.
Q. When & how do I receive the completed estimate?
Upon the clearing of payment in full we send out our complete package in pdf format via email or fax.
Q. Can you give me an estimated cost quote before we sign a contract?
Yes. The cost of our service depends entirely on the size and type of the project. In order to provide you with a price quote, it is imperative that we see your plans and specifications. We will then analyze the project documents and provide you with a proposal and anticipated time frame on how long it will take to complete. We will provide you an estimated time proposal within hours or the next day. We do our best to perform and turn-around your estimate as expediently as we are able. Depending on the type of estimate, we offer an hourly rate, or “not to exceed” quote.
Q. How are you paid?
At the outset of our agreement, a retainer will be required. Once the estimate is complete, and before final review, it’s required that the final Invoice be paid in full.
Q. After the ‘on-line review’, How will I receive my estimate and when?
After payment has been made and funds cleared we will forward our reports in pdf format via email. We have a variety of Cost Reports. Please review samples for more detail.
Q. How is the time spent on the estimate tracked?
Each day we keep a worksheet on the time spent on your estimate. Upon request we will email you the time spent working on your project. Any questions for clarity should be addressed in writing immediately. This eliminates questions for charged hours on the final invoice.
Q. Are you responsible for your estimate, what guarantees do I get and do you carry liability or error and omissions insurance?
We have experienced estimators with an exceptional wealth of knowledge not only book and school learned but solidly reinforced by years of actual building in the field. We are unable to provide you with a 100% guarantees or warranties on any project estimates. Unfortunately no estimating process is perfect as it is just that; an estimate.
The services and report data we provide are for cross checking only and using the report is at the sole discretion of the client. Unfortunately, we cannot guarantee that you will be the lowest bidder on your project. We are also unable to guarantee that you will generate a profit.
After discussing or reviewing the estimate with you via our ‘online meeting’ any adjustments can be made then or by you when the estimate arrives at your office. Our company cannot be held responsible for any errors, omissions or changes made to your bid proposal as the reports are for cross checking only and are used to assist you with your estimating and bidding process.
We do not carry liability or error & omission insurance. E&O insurance is expensive and would greatly increase our expenses which would directly affect our pricing to you considerably.
Q. Why should I pay an hourly fee which is higher than our typical employee rate?
We contract with you and offer a temporary service to assist you. Although our fee may seem higher than what you can pay a full-time employee, our fee is all inclusive to cover our overhead expense. Using our services on a short term basis will decrease your annual payroll expenses. Savings are realized in various areas; no down time costs for carrying employee’s in slow cycles, no workmen compensation expenses, no payroll taxes, no medical and retirement contributions, no vacation pay, no sick or Holiday payments. When these expenses are factored in, it is easy to see that you are saving money by contracting our company for your estimating needs.
Q. Will I win more jobs?
No one can guarantee winning projects; however the more bids submitted the higher the chance for project awards, which can increase business!
Q. How do I get the project documents to you and can I send you electronic or digital files?
We receive project documents in many formats; via USPS, overnight and digital files.
We work with digital files with these formats: TIF, PDF, DWG, CAD
We prefer to receive and use digital files for many reasons. It’s faster to receive and to develop the take-off estimate while saving a few trees. We can have your plans scanned in to digital files if you don’t have them in that format.
Q. How are your estimates developed and what software is used?
It depends on the type of project and how we need to address its requirements.
We prefer to use the software that we feel will give us the best take-off criteria for that particular project along with gauging the most expedient manner we can complete the estimate for clients.
Primary we estimate using Sage Timberline Precision Extended, which is recognized as one of the nation’s leading estimating programs. Since 1995 we have used Timberline for most of our estimating purposes and have continued to grow our own estimating database daily for a variety of projects and disciplines.
On other projects we may use R.S. Means with their related databases or at times we use Excel to develop an estimate.
Q. How long will the turnaround time be for an estimate?
Estimating a project depends on many factors. What type of estimate is required? Is all the information provided? Level of document complexity and details required. These are the keys to shorter more accurate estimate turnaround time. Within a few hours we can give you a clearer approximation on the turn-around time once we see the project documents.
Q. Who do you usually provide estimating services for?
- General Contractors
- Property Owners
Q. How do you estimate material or labor costs in other places of the country?
Material pricing and labor rates are adjusted regional using R.S. Means database standards. The client must then confirm pricing for all items. Generally there are very few cost variations for materials throughout the U.S. Of course, there are always exceptions to this.
Q. Can you just do separate divisions?
Yes – Depending on your requirements our estimators can generate the entire project or can perform a separate estimate on any division; 1 through 13. Budget pricing will be issued for Divisions 14 through 16.
Q. What termination clauses are in your consulting contract?
Either party can cancel the contract with 24 hours notice to the other entity as defined in the agreement.