Careers in Construction: Estimating

For our second installment for our Careers in Construction Month series, we’ll learn about the folks who determine the cost of our projects before they’re built – estimators.

What do estimators do?

Estimators help Alberici acquire work, and they assist our clients by providing accurate cost estimates before work begins. On hard bid projects, they put together Alberici’s bid for the work; typically, the lowest bidder is awarded the job. On design-build or construction management projects, estimators collaborate with designers to determine project costs and provide estimates to our clients.

Regardless of the type of project, estimators review drawings and specifications in order to quantify building components, and then they price those components accordingly. Sometimes estimators independently perform an estimate using cost data from previous similar projects. Other times, estimators collect quotes from subcontractors and suppliers. Estimators also work to develop and maintain essential relationships with subcontractors.

Estimators can specialize in different Alberici markets, geographic areas, or components of construction (such as concrete, mechanical/electrical/plumbing, or steel). At Alberici, our estimating teams are built to allow each estimator to play to his/her strengths in order to provide the greatest impact to the estimate.

Estimators play an essential role to the operation of the company, and work collaboratively with other departments in order to maximize their performance. For example, estimators work with Alberici’s warehouse to acquire rental rates and equipment availability. They work with the finance department on the allocation of money within an estimate. Estimators also work with legal to review contracts before bidding a job and risk management to review potential subcontractors and suppliers. They collaborate with operations personnel prior to the start of construction to assure a seamless handoff and transfer of knowledge from the estimate and preconstruction to construction activities in the field.

Building a Career in Estimating

Estimators come to the role with myriad backgrounds. Entry level estimators often have a degree in Construction Management, Civil Engineering, Architecture or a related field. Professionals with experience in the project management in the field can also successfully transition to a role as an estimator.

Beyond formal training, estimators need to be persistent and inquisitive. Persistence in essential because the statistical probability of losing is almost always greater than that of winning; in other words, you lose more jobs than you win. It takes a persistent person to bounce back after losing a bid, ready for the next pursuit. Being inquisitive is important because even when a bid is successful, estimators constantly try to replicate best practices and seek opportunities for improvement.