Cost estimation is a make-or-break phase for construction projects. The right estimates will help your business win more jobs and help your clients better understand what’s in store for them.

Here, we’ll discuss 7 of the most important traits shared by highly effective construction cost estimators.

  1. Capturing a Repeatable Cost Structure

Skilled estimators understand that they don’t have to spend their time reinventing the wheel. Once you’ve figured out the costing structure for a particular activity or type of work, you can reuse it repeatedly, saving time and making it easier for others to understand.

In fact, everyone in the organization can work off the same cost structure, so that newer estimators don’t repeat the same mistakes of those who have been in the position longer. Over time, this method will improve accuracy and make your estimates more consistent.

  1. Understanding Costs

Some estimators may use a particular price for estimating a project component and not question its accuracy simply because it’s a number that’s been used before. Highly effective estimators, however, realize that accurate estimates depend on a more fundamental understanding of where a cost estimate comes from.

The salaries of field crews and the type of equipment required to do the job are just two of the important factors that go into calculating a final cost. More accurate estimates help you map out what field workers are doing and can mean higher profits as a result.

  1. Good Communication

Estimates are typically completed well before work begins and field crews receive all the information, which means that estimators need to compare their original estimate with the true productivity of workers in the field.

Communication is key to matching up the numbers from the estimate and the field crews, and explain any discrepancies. Estimators need to constantly make judgment calls about whether their estimate was off the mark, or whether the project encountered unforeseen problems.

  1. Having Real-Time Visibility

Larger jobs will often have multiple estimators working on the same bid. In situations like these, real-time visibility is invaluable to see the changes that other estimators are currently making.

For example, if one estimator decides that a crane will be necessary for part of the project, other estimators can take advantage of that crane for other parts of the project, instead of renting an additional crane and adding that cost to the estimate.

  1. Controlling Access

Successful estimators know that not all their fellow estimators are created equal. Estimators should be controlling who can access and make changes to the estimate and the underlying template and data.

Access control is necessary to minimize the risk of human error and oversight during an estimate. For example, junior estimators may not have the knowledge to understand how a decision will affect the entire company, so they should only have access to certain parts of the estimate.

  1. Familiarity with the Work

Experienced estimators have honed their intuition about how a given project will be accomplished. They have familiarity, knowledge, and awareness about the realities of what the work will require.

As a result, experienced estimators can provide more accurate cost estimates, which means they’ll win more jobs. The best estimate to make is the one that’s a single penny under your closest competitor.

  1. Losing the Right Jobs

Knowing when to lose a job is almost as important as knowing how to win it. Some estimators are desperate to take any kind of job, even when it won’t be profitable, because the company must earn money to keep paying and employing their crews.

This kind of “slow bleed” is not a good situation to find yourself in. If you realize that you won’t be able to turn a profit by accepting a certain job, then it isn’t the right job for you. Instead, focus only on those jobs that will be profitable for your business.

Making informed estimates requires a multi-faceted approach. Adopting a construction estimating software helps companies gain control of their estimating processes, so they can win more jobs at better margins, and remain competitive.

And a software solution will help all your company’s estimators excel in each of these 7 areas, driving better, more efficient bids that win profitable jobs.

Are you looking to hire a construction cost estimator? Read our blog post titled: Take the Guesswork out of Hiring a Great Estimator.

Greg Norris