How does a construction estimate work?

The more comprehensive the plans, the more accurate the estimate.

Before selecting a building contractor for your project, it is important to gather a detailed estimate from each candidate. How can you get an accurate construction estimate? In short, be prepared with comprehensive plans to eliminate as much ambiguity as possible.

In this part of our educational blog series, we will walk you through getting an accurate construction estimate.

Your Plans Play a Part

When Herr & Co. receives a set of plans to begin estimating, we first familiarize ourselves with them and pay special attention to architectural or engineering notes. These notes often describe in greater detail the specifications for how your project should be constructed (regarding foundation, floor plan, insulation, and even interior finish selections). If your plans do not include everything necessary for a comprehensive estimate, Herr & Co. can work with you to make these decisions.

Our in-house estimator will then inventory and price all materials that Herr & Co. will purchase directly and use experience from past projects to estimate the number of man hours required to complete all self-performed labor.

Next, our estimator will send your plans to subcontractors for any work that can more cost-effectively be done by specialists. For each division of your project, Herr & Co. requests quotes from multiple subcontractors we have built relationships with over the last 30 years. We will request bids and detailed scopes of work from these subcontractors and evaluate them for the highest value.

Transparency Builds Both Trust and Value

At Herr & Co., we use project management software to track each facet of your estimate. Part of building your estimate is making sure that each dollar amount includes a detailed explanation of how that final number was derived. This will include lists of material, man hours, and scopes of work from subcontractors.

The detail included in our estimates aims to achieve one of Herr & Co.’s core values: transparency. When you are considering a builder for your project and comparing estimates, it is important to compare “like for like” when it comes to prices. We believe this is impossible without transparency and a high level of detail. If your estimate does not include and explain everything from your plans in detail, it leaves room for surprise costs later down the road.

It is important to realize there are occasional times in the building process when an exact value cannot be arrived upon because a selection has not been made at the time of estimating (i.e. flooring, paint, etc.). In these instances, Herr & Co. may provide you with an allowance for these materials based on the quantity needed and average market prices.

Scheduling is Part of the Estimate

The second component of an estimate from Herr & Co. includes a schedule for construction and a schedule for when selection with allowances will need to be made.

For many projects, price may not be the only factor. You will likely want your project completed by a certain deadline, and just as estimates can vary from builder to builder, construction timelines can differ. A comprehensive schedule is the starting point for an efficient construction project. This can come in the form of a condensed commercial project timeline to prevent unnecessary downtime for your business or a thorough schedule for your residential project to promote a cost-effective job that is delivered on time.

Herr & Co. will provide you with a detailed schedule accounting for each phase of construction. This schedule is based on man hours that we have estimated for both self-performed work and the estimated time for completion included in our subcontractors’ proposals.

By using project management software to track this information during the estimating process, Herr & Co. aims to streamline the construction process. This information can be easily shared with owners, project managers, and subcontractors to ensure that everyone is on the same page before your project begins.

What’s Next?

Once you receive estimates from each candidate, you will be left to decide which building contractor is right for your project. What happens after you choose? Stay-tuned for our next blog post to find out!