Construction estimation is the process of determining the total costs of a construction project from concept through completion and subsequent maintenance operations. Construction estimators focus on helping clients develop sound budgets, as well as effective project schedules. Although most construction estimators work as resident employees in construction firms, others find jobs in consultation firms that provide cost estimation services to clients.
In construction estimation, analytical and math skills are an asset. Construction estimators use these skills to evaluate proposals for construction projects and compute the quantity of materials, number of laborers and amount of time and money the property developer would require to successfully complete the project. Because omission of minor details, such as costs for acquiring permits, can affect the accuracy of estimates, these estimators need a high level of attention to detail. Strong writing skills are also useful to construction estimators, since they are often required to draft estimation reports for clients.
The main role of construction estimators is to give cost and time estimates for buildings, roads and other facilities. When a local authority invites contractors to bid for a project, a firm interested in the project may hire a construction estimator to provide the cost and time estimates for constructing the road. In this context, the estimator evaluates aspects such as length of the road, quantity and cost of materials required, number of workers and involved hiring costs, such as wages, health insurance and taxes. He may also consider market dynamics, such as price changes and weather patterns before computing the final estimates.
Construction estimators have a duty to advise clients on the feasibility of a certain project. If an estimator conducts market research and establishes that material prices may increase significantly in the near future, leading to an increase in total project costs, she may advise the contractor to purchase all of the required material as soon as possible or discourage him from undertaking the project. Construction estimators working for project owners also participate in the evaluation of submitted bids which involves reviewing price quotations to identify cost-effective and competent contractors.