What Does a Construction Estimator Do?
September 18, 2019
A construction estimator fills an extremely important role for a construction company, and their job is not a simple one. We wanted to share everything that goes into an estimator’s job to help you better understand how things get done here at Gray & Son. We’ll also be writing about other roles and how they’re critical to our work, so stay tuned for those posts!
So, what does a construction estimator do? You’d think the answer would just be: estimate how much a project will cost. But so much more goes into this job! An estimator finds opportunities, figures out what kind of help is needed to complete jobs, gets that help in place, procures materials, quantifies everything that goes into a project and uses all of that information to develop an actual estimate.
And that’s just the beginning! The estimator also facilitates communication and negotiation with the buyer or owner of a project, holds a lot of internal meetings to get everyone on the same page and then eventually works to turn a project over to a project manager.
Let’s look a little more closely at all of those tasks.
1. Find opportunities
Estimators find projects for us to build, whether it’s a public sector or a private sector project. The processes for those are quite different, as public sector jobs have a lot of procedures in place for advertising projects, while private sector jobs involve more networking.
2. Analyze and source help needed
Once an opportunity is identified, the estimator starts to dig into the project and determine what is needed to make it happen. Often, this will involve contacting subcontractors to help out on the aspects of a project that fall outside of Gray & Son’s core capabilities, gathering their pricing information. Further along in the process, the estimator will actually subcontract that help for the project.
3. Procure materials
At the same time, an estimator needs to figure out what materials will be required for a project and obtain pricing for those. We always need materials for our projects, so this is a key part of putting together an estimate.
4. Quantify the project
With the help of an assistant estimator, the estimator will pull together a quantification of everything that will go into building the project. Then, the estimator puts all of the information gathered into an estimating program and figures out how the project is going to get built, based on the situation, location and other aspects of the project. After all, we never build the same project twice, so every estimate is entirely unique!
5. Develop an estimate
After working in the estimating program, the estimator will discuss with our production, project management and management teams to come up with a price for the work. It takes a lot of good communication and teamwork to get to this point, where the estimator can deliver a full proposal for the work.
6. Post-estimate coordination
After that proposal is either bid (for a public project) or negotiated back and forth with the owner (for a private project), and Gray & Son has hopefully been awarded the project and signed a contract, it’s time to get to work! The estimator will get our project managers involved and then get purchase orders and contracts executed for materials and subcontractors.
The estimator is responsible for turning a project over to the project management team with a full understanding of the plans and details of the job, which involves hosting internal meetings and meetings with the owner of the project to make sure everyone is clear on expectations and plans.
But an estimator is never fully “out” of a project – he or she becomes an advisor and maintains responsibility for the budget of a project until it is completed.
So, there is obviously a lot involved in this job, which is critical to our business. We are fortunate to have many of the best estimators in the industry working here at Gray & Son, and we don’t take their important role here for granted.