Posted by: Fred Soelter | November 6, 2010

Estimating a construction project

A good estimator, or a good scheduler, are that elusive godsend that can make or break your proforma. Like the accountant joke, “What’s 2+2=?… What do you want it to be?”
Personally, I think you need to get hard bids on the major trades, If your plans arem’t far enough along to get at least a budget number (low on the contractors side, high on your proforma), then you don’t have enough to go to the bank.
Start with the major trades and actually bid it out and ask for their construction schedules and CPM points with other trades. They will give you schedules and budgets that you can weave into a complete picture.
Start with Grading and utilities (unless they are finished pads, offsites are critical, always overbudget), Concrete foundations (if podium, garage is turnkey), Framing (with window installation), Drywall (surprisingly one of the big numbers), MEP (design/build if possible), Roof and Exterior (stucco or concrete siding). The interior specs can make or break you in the wrong market, this is truly an owner spec that is just a plug number, unless you come up with interior specs (Flooring!), kitchen and bath plan cabinet plans and appliance package.
Well, that’s the standard practice for a number that I would go to the Board with, there really is no way to pull a magic number out of the air, or a schedule, without directly involving your potential trade partners, and spending some time negotiating those numbers. If you have a wide a range of projects, this isn’t a part-time job, if you want a good number. You want to do your homework correctly and it takes time.

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