Pre-construction Estimating Leadership Do's and Don'ts

When it comes to the success or failure of a construction project, the weakest link can be at the very beginning of the process. Cost estimation is where the process is the most fragile and thus, is where the strongest leadership is required. During this crucial time, construction management professionals will need to accurately assess the costs of every step, from breaking ground to the completion of construction. Precision in this estimate is vital. Every construction project has many stakeholders, including management, investors, leasees, and contractors. Everyone involved needs to be aware of the expenditures involved in terms of both time and money. Fortunately, there are steps that construction leaders can take to ensure this will be understood, as well as mistakes that can be avoided with prior planning and the right tools. Let’s look at these crucial dos and don'ts in the pre-construction estimate process.

1. Do: Leverage Digital Reporting for More Accurate Estimates

The first thing that a successful estimate requires is timely and accurate project information. This includes current market cost of materials, as well as wages negotiated with contractors in the hiring process. Such information may be in flux due to changing market conditions, of course, which is where enhanced digital reporting capabilities come into play.

Don't: Rely on spreadsheets to record all reported data, as spreadsheets often do not have the capabilities of software designed for this purpose.

2. Do: Account for All Material Costs

Accuracy is essential when calculating costs, but this doesn't mean that you have to crunch all the numbers every day in order to get that all-important number to deliver in your bid. Digitizing the takeoff process is one way to ensure that all your data is not only consolidated but can also be updated or even programmed to account for changing conditions.

Don't: Take more time than is necessary with manual takeoffs of blueprints, as not only can this drag out the pre-construction process, but it can also make the eventual project more vulnerable to potential cost overruns or scheduling mishaps.

3. Do: Use a Variety of Business Tools for Data Processing

Poor workflow can make or break your cost estimation and by extension, your entire project. Your data will pass through many hands on the way to an eventual final estimate, and in that process, it can feel like playing telephone if you are not using the right business tools to ensure that every bit of data is where it needs to be. Proper data integration is a difficult process if you are just plugging in numbers as they come across your desk.

Don't: Rely on software that can’t integrate all your data sets or is not designed to account for new or possibly contradictory information as it comes up throughout the process.

4. Do: Generate Reports for Key Findings

When you are performing a cost estimate, you will be juggling a massive amount of information. It is easier to make sense of it all when everything is in front of you. This is where digital reporting can be a boon to anyone working hard to bid fairly and accurately for a project. Not only does it give you the proper documentation to back up your bid, but it can also help you find mistakes or areas of potential improvement.

Don't: Simply make a list of findings on an estimation spreadsheet—you may have to make an excessive number of edits or even, through human error, leave inaccurate information to pass on to the bidding process.

5. Do: Eliminate Redundant or Inefficient Procedures

In every pre-construction estimation project, there are steps that you may be taking that can be reduced or eliminated by automating that process. These redundant procedures may have been put into place when the process was a pencil-and-paper practice, providing opportunities to correct mistakes or add late changes. However, if you have construction management software that you can trust, you may be able to dispense with these extra steps.

Don't: Remove steps in the process without introducing a more efficient digital workflow, as there may be a good reason that they were there in the first place.

Your leadership in the pre-construction estimation process can make all the difference when it comes to providing the bid that will get your project completed and win you more work down the road. Every leader, however, needs the right tools for the job. ProEst provides the practical solutions that you need to work on your project on a daily basis.

ProEst helps commercial construction companies maximize profits by helping them streamline cost estimation, takeoffs, and more. We believe commercial construction companies grow at scale through visibility of data, cohesion among teams, and accurate estimating. To see how ProEst can streamline your commercial construction processes, contact one of our experts today!

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