Why are estimates important?

Why is a detailed estimate so important in today’s building climate?

When a builder gets a complete set of building plans, the builder is expected to give the client a cost estimate or quote as it is commonly referred to.

When I started in the building business, the standard way of estimating a house was to take the lot cost and the cost of “lumber” which at that time encompassed windows, doors, roofing products and other related items, average these costs, use a multiplier, and cost the house. That method outgrew itself in the late 1970s.

I was fortunate to have worked for an engineer from a commercial construction background who taught me to estimate “from the ground up.” His theory was that any size project should be estimated the same way, no matter how large or small. He taught me the necessity of a solid sound estimating system. I still use the same basic format today, except the computer has quickened our methods.

Today there are so many products and choices available to the builder and buyer. It is ever the more important for a detailed estimate and a detailed scope of work or specifications. It establishes a budget that will be used throughout the building of your house or project. If a haphazard or incomplete cost estimate establishes the budget, someone will suffer financially.

I personally feel that every builder should use a detailed take-off system to cost the project. When relying on salespersons and subcontractor take offs, they are subject to that person’s interpretations of items and practices used by that person. Without a detailed take off or your own, you have no way of knowing whether that person is correct or not. When it is time to finalize your project, the salesperson may say, “You asked me to do more than I quoted. Get the quote and see what I estimated as compared to what I put in the house.” It is always the other person’s fault. A good take off of your own could have prevented this, as it would have red-flagged the difference in your estimate and theirs.

We all are much happier in the end when we have established a sound estimate. If you, our client is satisfied, we get to build that second or third house. And that keeps us in business.

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