Why Construction Estimating Is Both an Art and a Science
Construction projects are unique in that each project has completely different requirements, and all of your projects will be subject to variables that are entirely out of your control. Even buildings with a similar outward appearance will have differing construction cost estimates due to differences in terrain, material availability, varying labor costs, weather conditions, and change orders.
To complicate matters further, a simple miscalculation can derail your project. Overestimations can irreparably damage your reputation, while underestimations may lead to lost revenue and even bankruptcy.
However, with cutting-edge technology, you can develop more accurate construction estimates and handle changing variables with ease. Keep the following variables in mind as you calculate project estimates, and consider leveraging technology to streamline your estimation process.
Accounting for the cost of materials and supplies for your project can be challenging to estimate accurately. Building materials generally comprise a large portion of your budget, but the pricing of materials is subject to constant fluctuation due to high demand, supply shortages, unforeseen tariffs, and other factors. By the time you begin the project, the price of materials may have significantly increased, so ensure that you consider this when estimating your budget.
Without a doubt, labor costs are among the most challenging aspects to estimate. We can attribute this to the fact that many variables impact your labor estimate, including the rate of pay, the expertise of the workers, the number of available workers, and their productivity levels.
Although experienced workers may command higher pay, they mitigate this with increased productivity. In contrast, workers who are not experienced have a lower salary but cannot work as efficiently. This should be taken into account when predicting labor hours and their attendant costs. And even if you consistently work with the same subcontractors or similar crews, staffing changes or an unexpected need for specialized workers can add surprise costs to your labor estimate.
Unfortunately, construction delays can occur outside of your control, such as those caused by unpredictable weather. As it turns out, the whims of nature can drastically impact your project’s schedule.
Construction delays resulting from the weather can vary based on which part of the world in which you conduct business. If your project occurs in an area with freezing conditions, you may need to delay your project due to unexpected snowfall. In contrast, a project in a tropical area may face issues related to rainfall or extreme heat.
Although you should plan for weather conditions to the best of your ability, it’s impossible to estimate the exact effects of an intense storm or natural disaster. Consider being a little generous with your timelines so your estimate is prepared to absorb sudden delays.
Just when you think you have accounted for every variable possible, your client may request a significant change in the middle of your project. We refer to this as a “change order.” Essentially, a change order is a legal record that details the project modifications and its price, as agreed upon between the contractor and client. The different types of change orders include additive change orders, deductive change orders, and partial termination. Often, clients may request a change order upon realizing that the field conditions differ from what was expected, perhaps due to the quality of the soil or even groundwater.
Fortunately, most clients understand that a change in project scope will come with a change in project price tag. As long as you are honest and respectful about a change order’s impact on your budget, this hopefully won’t cause undue tension in the project.
Create an Accurate Estimate with BlackVector
Given the numerous variables for each project, developing an accurate construction estimate is no easy task. If you’re interested in streamlining and simplifying the construction estimate process, BlackVector is here to support your efforts.
BlackVector’s software solutions were designed by experienced construction engineers to address and solve the biggest pain points in the industry. Our revolutionary project management system will help you weather the unpredictable nature of construction projects by eliminating the need to track project information using multiple incompatible software suites. Instead, use our integrated modules to smoothly transition the vital data from your construction estimates straight into the building phase — no human error, no data loss, and no conflicts.
With BlackVector, make sure your plans are always current, accurate, and accessible in-office or on-site. Ready to learn more? Contact us today to get started!
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