What are the 4 types of estimates in construction?

When the scope of a construction estimating services project is defined, hiring the right estimator is the first step to completing the project. The right estimator will be able to help you complete the project on time. Estimating costs is one of the most important steps in building a successful project. It’s important to remember that this vital process determines whether a construction project succeeds or fails. Accurate cost estimation will help you streamline your project budget, reduce costs, and minimize risks.

There are four main types of estimates in construction that help determine how much a project will cost from start to finish. Knowing the difference between a preliminary estimate, detailed estimate, quantity estimate, and bid estimate will help ensure you budget properly and know exactly what you’re getting into before the heavy machinery rolls in. Read on to learn about the four estimates that make the construction world go round.

Preliminary Estimates

When you first start planning a construction estimating services project, you need to come up with a rough estimate of costs to determine if it’s even feasible. Enter the preliminary estimate.

  • Preliminary estimates are ballpark figures to help you budget and get the planning process started. So, They are based on very little specific information, such as the square footage of the building or the materials you intend to use.
  • Because you haven’t finalized your plans yet, these estimates may be incorrect by up to 50% in some circumstances. But that’s ok. The goal here is just to determine if the project is worth pursuing further. If the preliminary estimate is way over budget, you’ll want to make some changes before continuing.
  • To calculate a preliminary estimate, you’ll use industry standards for costs per square foot based on the type of building. You’ll also factor in approximate costs for materials, labor, permits, and contractor fees. It’s really a rough guess, but better than going in blind.

Detailed Estimates

To submit an accurate bid for a construction project, you need detailed estimates. These provide precise calculations of the costs for materials, labor, equipment, and overhead.

  • Material estimates account for all supplies needed, including specifics like type, grade, and quantity. Price quotes from suppliers help determine total material costs.
  • Labor estimates calculate the total hours required for each task and the rates for workers. Consider not just the hours for the job itself but also for mobilization, demobilization, and cleanup. Union rates and location also affect labor costs.
  • Equipment estimates include rental or ownership costs for everything from heavy machinery to hand tools. So, calculate costs for transportation, fuel, maintenance, and operation.
  • Overhead estimates cover indirect costs like insurance, permits, bonds, office expenses, and profit. A percentage of total costs for materials, labor, and equipment is commonly used.

Detailed estimates provide the basis for an accurate bid that covers all your costs with a reasonable profit margin. They do require time and expertise to develop, but the investment pays off with precise budgeting, scheduling, and bidding.

Quantity Estimates

Quantity estimates, also known as material takeoffs, are essential for determining how much of each material is needed for a construction project. These estimates provide the details on types, quantities, and costs of materials required to complete the work. They allow contractors to order the right amount of materials to avoid costly overages or shortages.

To develop a quantity estimate, you need the project’s specifications, plans, and drawings. Go over each area of the project and make a list of the materials needed, the quantity of each item needed, the dimensions, and any other factors that will influence how much has to be ordered. It’s a time-consuming process, but the accuracy of your takeoff will directly impact the project’s budget and schedule.

Some of the materials you’ll need to quantify include:

  • Concrete: Calculate the volume in cubic yards for foundations, slabs, walkways, etc. Consider the thickness and area required.
  • Lumber: Measure the linear feet needed for studs, joists, rafters, sheathing, siding, trim, etc. Account for waste since lumber comes in standard lengths.
  • Drywall: Determine the number of sheets based on the wall area and ceiling height. Don’t forget closets and attic spaces!
  • Roofing: Measure the square footage of the roof’s surface to order shingles, underlayment, drip edge, and vents.
  • Windows and doors: Count the number of each size and type of opening. Measure rough opening and window dimensions.
  • Plumbing: List lengths of pipe, number of fittings, fixtures, valves, and other components based on the building plans.
  • Electrical: Quantify wire, outlets, switches, lighting fixtures, breakers, and other equipment needed for the electrical system.

Bid Estimates

Understanding the Project Scope

To submit a winning bid estimate, you need to fully understand the scope and specifications of the construction project. Review the plans and documents provided by the client to determine exactly what work needs to be done. Make sure you understand the timeline, materials, and any site challenges. Ask questions if anything is unclear before submitting your proposal.

Pricing the Work Accurately

Do your homework to determine fair prices for materials and labor. Get multiple quotes from suppliers and subcontractors. Factor in costs for equipment, transportation, and waste. Build in a reasonable profit margin, typically around 10-20% for most contractors. Double check your math to ensure you haven’t made any errors before submitting the final bid. An inaccurate bid can end up costing you the job or money in the long run.

Highlighting Your Qualifications

Emphasize your experience, expertise, and qualifications that make you the ideal candidate for the work. Provide examples of similar successful projects you’ve completed. So, include customer testimonials and reviews that speak to your high quality work and service. Help the client understand why they should choose you for the job over other competing contractors.

Offering Incentives (Optional)

You may want to consider offering incentives to help win the bid, such as:

  • Discounts for bundling multiple projects together
  • Reduced fees for prompt payment
  • Warranties or guarantees on workmanship and materials
  • Flexible payment terms.

Construction outsourcing: How to pick the right one

There are a ton of construction companies vying for your business, which means they’re all fighting for it. If you follow these tips, you’ll be able to make a smart choice when choosing a Outsource estimating services company.

You should consider a company’s size, experience, and specialization when you’re looking for construction outsourcing. Ask around for recommendations. Also, check out their reviews and references.

Construction outsourcing companies should consider how many employees they have when it comes to size. A small company with a few employees might be perfect if you’re looking for a single subcontractor. A company with hundreds of employees might be worth considering if you’re looking for a big construction outsourcing company.


So there you have it, the four different sorts of estimates utilized in the Construction estimating services industry. You’ll be able to decide which strategy is best for your next building project now that you understand the distinctions between a preliminary estimate, detailed estimate, quantity estimate, and bid estimate. The key is choosing an estimate that provides enough detail for decision making at that stage, without wasting time and money on unnecessary precision. And remember, the level of accuracy will increase as the project progresses from concept to completion. With the right estimates guiding your construction journey, you’ll avoid unwanted surprises and stay on schedule and within budget. Knowledge is power, so go forth and estimate wisely.

Designing Custom Paper Bags: Tips for Eye-Catching and Effective Packaging Previous post Designing Custom Paper Bags: Tips for Eye-Catching and Effective Packaging
Exploring International Real Estate Opportunities for Investors Next post Exploring International Real Estate Opportunities for Investors

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *