Estimating is a tricky business

Estimating or calculating the cost of a project is never easy but there are some things you can do to ensure accuracy.

Providing cost estimates in the construction sector can be especially challenging as there are a number of factors that can make forecasting almost impossible.

Elements like material costs, labour wages, site conditions and inflation can be unpredictable, and unpredictability is the main enemy of accurate estimates.

So what is the ‘golden rule’ of estimating? According to construction estimating specialist, Len Holder, experience is the key.

“The more experience you have with estimating the more you will know how to anticipate risks.” Experience allows you to prepare for scenarios that are specific to your project.

But what if you are new to the construction estimating game? Holder says there are ways to determine if your estimates are on track.

“One way to test the accuracy of your estimate is to compare the overall cost or m² rate with similar and recent projects in the same area.”

Another tip is to involve a quantity surveyor or specialist consultant at the start of the project. He also advises project managers or estimators to personally visit the site to identify any factors that could influence the cost.

Of course the accuracy of the calculations are subject to the amount of information the project manager has at the time of estimation.

Other factors that lead to poor estimates include, “incomplete designs, late requests by the client and mistakes by the person who provides the estimate”.

Holder explains that these mistakes can be prevented by doing ‘sense checks’. This refers to the process of reviewing data while looking for obvious errors that can be discovered by applying common sense.

“For example, the site area is 3000m². The building footprint is 1000m² and the parking area is 1000m². What is happening on the remaining 1000m²?”

During the Construction Estimating course, Holder provides more tools and techniques to help professionals deliver accurate estimates.

Please contact Alusani® for the latest dates for the CPD-accredited Construction Estimating course. You can save up to R2000, when you register and pay early! For more information call 011 447 7470, email faith@alusani.co.za or visit the website www.alusani.co.za

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