Construction estimating

What is construction estimating and what do estimators do ?

Estimating construction work 


Precision guesswork based on unreliable data provided by those with questionable knowledge.

Estimating, like measurement is one of the core skills of construction professionals and success as an estimator relies, among other things, on a sound knowledge of the relevant technologies.


However, over the recent years when main contractors have become, in the main, managing contractors relying heavily if not totally on sub-contractors to price work sections, estimating from basic principles, like measurement, has tended to be left out of university courses and training programmes.


Not only are estimating skills required for preparing bids, but also during the post-contract phase they are essential when negotiating rates and prices for settling final accounts and claims.


When times are hard and work scarce, then the estimator’s role becomes even more crucial as they are the people within a contracting organisation who win work and keep the cash flow flowing.


In 2020 major UK contractors declared profit margins of less than 1% and with such little wiggle room it is even more important for estimating to be accurate and a true reflection of the cost of the works.

Where to estimator's work?


Estimators are to be found in a wide range of organisations across the building, civil engineering and mechanical and electrical sectors working for main contractors, sub-contractors and component manufactures.


Fifty years or so ago the majority of work was based on a fully detailed bill of quantities, prepared by a quantity surveyor employed by the client, typically the tender would have been based on a detailed bill of quantities.


In the modern construction market bids are now based on a variety of formats; including work packages, cost plans and drawings and specification requiring contractors and sub-contractors to be flexible in their approaches to formulating a bid and identifying risk. 

Estimating video tutorials

Duncan Cartlidge Online gives 24/7 access to a series of clear video tutorials from the author of the best-selling pocketbooks.


Each video explains the process of producing estimates and cost plans from basic principles based on the Building Cost Information Service guidance. The advantages and disadvantages of the various approaches to cost advice at a variety of stages is explained as well as how to prepare approximate quantities.

Videos demonstrate how to approach resource estimating from basic principles to the preparation of a unit rate for a range of work sections including the approach to calculating preliminary and overhead costs.

Extensive experience both in practice and in education allows Duncan Cartlidge to address the common problems encountered when giving cost advice and unit rate estimating. Each video contains a set of self-assessment questions to gauge progress and a question and answer facility will be available to subscribers.

Introductory offer only £7 per month

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