Chuck Howard, President of Metal Roof Consultants, was recently featured as a sidebar titled Understanding Estimating’s Function and Process to the feature article Your Best Estimate: Effective construction estimation helps save materials and money in Metal Construction News. You can read Chuck’s sidebar below and can READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE.
The function of any method (including computer software) of calculating the necessary materials and labor for a specific project is to determine the actual quantities of materials and labor needed to provide a finished product, while at the same time satisfying any specification and building code requirement.
The basic process is simple. Look at all the components required, such as metal panels, clips, screws, sealants, flashings and all other materials necessary to allow the installed product to function as it was designed to function. The actual implementation, or installation of the estimated materials, is dependent on the estimate and corresponding material order to accurately determine all needed materials necessary for a proper installed product. Even the smallest deficiency in this process can cause the implementation phase to fail in being performed efficiently.
Any estimating software is helpful if it can be customized to match the metal supplier’s installation and detail directions. It also needs to be able to be customized to match the way the particular contractor performs the installation process, whether with their own forces and by subcontracting the labor. Being able to properly estimate the total labor costs, and then have the tools to monitor these costs throughout the project, is more important to meeting the estimated budget for a project than is the estimate for the materials for a project. Any software (or even a manually prepared estimate) must take this variable into account.
The more you take an estimate apart into its smallest detail, the lower the exposure you are to have a bust in an estimate of significant proportions. The estimator, and associated estimating software, must be fully informed about the metal estimate being prepared.
Lack of knowledge of not only the materials required, but also how these materials are to be installed to meet the expectations of a project, are the key to a good estimate. Any software program can only do the math for the estimator. It cannot rationally think through the scenarios that are involved with a project. It cannot think for the estimator.