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3 Tips for Avoiding Costly Estimating Errors

Posted: August 16, 2018

Ever feel like you’re in a car flying down the highway toward your next project, but you’re not sure what you’ll find when you get there? Juggling incomplete plans, late-arriving materials, and changing schedules are only a few of the estimating potholes you’ll need to maneuver around.

Whether you’re an estimator for a doors and hardware contractor or a firestopping firm, your focus should always be on making sure your estimates are not only fast, but also accurate. Nobody wants to end up with any nasty surprises between your pre-construction estimate and the final amount to be paid.

Avoid Costly Mistakes

The good news is there are more than a few ways to catch estimating problems early. Here are three best practices from our white paper, Overcoming the Pitfalls of Estimating:

  1. Communicate early and often. Projects are rarely perfectly timed. Material shipments may run late, trades can fall behind, and schedules will need to be adjusted. It’s important to make sure everyone is on the same page—from the field to the office. For example, the field will need to know any special sequences of work or methods that were promised during the bidding process.
  2. Don’t underestimate your labor costs. You may assume labor is the base wage plus 26 percent. Instead of investing time with the accounting department to determine what makes up your true labor cost, you may take a shortcut and not include the labor burden, which is the actual cost for an employee, aside from their salary. Also, don’t forget to factor in the accurate hourly rate when hiring specialty labor or craftsmen.
  3. Using the right digital tools. While takeoff and estimating software can help save you time and improve accuracy, using production control software can also be used to digitally track cost-overruns and payroll. This helps contractors manage any project more effectively and efficiently – all the way through to project execution. Tracking productivity throughout the job will help you know if you’re over-budget.

Keep Calm and Make Adjustments

While no project is ever perfect, it’s important to be diligent when it comes to estimating, especially if you want to win the most profitable work for your construction business.

When you accurately assess the full scope and requirements of a project, you can avoid exposing your company to unnecessary risk. You will also have greater peace of mind when you can prepare the bid in a professional, polished package with detailed calculations.

Want to learn more? Go ahead and download our white paper, Overcoming the Pitfalls of Estimating, now.

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