How Do Other General Contractors Estimate?

 
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Old 09-13-2015, 02:53 PM   #1
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How Do Other General Contractors Estimate?


I have been for years working with the pencil & paper but I would like to find a simpler solution. I know many contractors are switching over to estimating software but it seems like a lot of faith into software.

Are you still double checking the pricing to make sure you don't take a bath on the jobs?

I just have a huge concern. I have seen people take serious losses but even as I get older I can't help but to notice how fast things change...

Thank you,
John
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Old 09-13-2015, 06:17 PM   #2
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Re: How Do Other General Contractors Estimate?


I would think most contractors are using excel. I'd be more worried about doing a paper estimate than an excel estimate, but obviously you need to be comfortable in excel.

One the things that always amazes me is when a contractor can't step back, look at his estimate and be able to tell if he has the scope covered. I don't mean, "did I miss a door or two?" I mean, "did I miss a floor?"

If you're estimating plumbing for a 2,000 sf house and your bid is $5,000 but that last 10 you did were $10,000...there's probably a problem there. But I still get bids that make no sense from subs.

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Old 09-13-2015, 06:17 PM   #3
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Re: How Do Other General Contractors Estimate?


I still sit down and figure everything out, with a price list while building the job in my mind (ouch!). I don't really know what everyone else does but this is what works for me. I don't want to miss any details and I don't know how software will take eveything into account. But I am sure that it works for some people.
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Old 09-13-2015, 07:13 PM   #4
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Re: How Do Other General Contractors Estimate?


I use my fingers. For the bigger jobs I wear flip flops so I can use my toes too
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Old 09-13-2015, 08:03 PM   #5
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Re: How Do Other General Contractors Estimate?


I know what I am trying get some hour for my time. As time goes by I know what my sub are too,maybe not exactly but I know what a days job for some one costs me OK r what a couple of days cost me......that helps a lot
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Old 09-14-2015, 05:13 PM   #6
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Re: How Do Other General Contractors Estimate?


I use estimating software. I account for everything. The SOW is hundreds if not thousands of items. It takes time. 24-40 hours for a house, depending on it size and features. It's the only way I know to be sure everything is accounted for. No easy solutions. I get paid for this process.

I will give broad SF dollar amounts to pre-qualify, but they must pay for a detailed SOW for contractual numbers.
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Old 09-14-2015, 06:08 PM   #7
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Re: How Do Other General Contractors Estimate?


I still do it with pencil and paper, off my checklist.

After 100 homes, or several hundred thousand feet of concrete, or thousands of ICF blocks, I will be close, within 5% of actual costs every time. But this doesn't happen without a history of doing it.

For instance, since plumbing was mentioned, I count openings, waste line only, and use a multiplier....add the multiplier again for every upstairs bath, and maybe $1000 for a sewer tie in. Fixtures are always a budget item, meaning I give the client a number to stay within to keep the budget, and if they go over, it is on them.

HVAC is like $4500 a ton, single story, heat pump, $500 less for gas or electric heat, and double for geo. Easy as that.

Concrete slabs are $6.25 and footings are so much a foot. Brick has a number, and so on and so on.

Framing packages are $13 a sq/ft typical, and special roof lines and framed second floors push it to $17, and this takes care of trim as well.

I rough out an estimate in an hour on a 4000 sq/ft home. The checklist has a slot, and that slot has a value. I know Excell would be the way to do this, by why change now?
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Old 09-15-2015, 04:56 AM   #8
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Re: How Do Other General Contractors Estimate?


I'm with Jay, I do it on paper, everything is a formula. I will put it in excel when done just to check my math and save it electronically...too much paperwork and files in the old days.

On any project I can be so close without making 1 phone call on what the cost is. But that is years upon years of doing this, having previous records to refer to when needed.
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Old 09-15-2015, 05:49 AM   #9
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Re: How Do Other General Contractors Estimate?


timberline.....SOW?? please enlighten
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Old 09-15-2015, 05:53 AM   #10
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Re: How Do Other General Contractors Estimate?


I made a simple word document with various scope of work, sub trades , and a few simple formulas to calculate everything at the end... put all the numbers in when done click one button for total, click another button to add overhead cost click another button to add profit margin and got my total... Very simple, accurate and everything is covered.
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Old 09-15-2015, 05:31 PM   #11
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Re: How Do Other General Contractors Estimate?


Quote:
Originally Posted by hrdwrkr View Post
timberline.....SOW?? please enlighten
SOW=Scope of work.
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Old 09-15-2015, 06:19 PM   #12
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Re: How Do Other General Contractors Estimate?


greg where in jersey??.....im in toms river
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Old 09-15-2015, 07:34 PM   #13
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Re: How Do Other General Contractors Estimate?


I believe he's in the Princeton area? Where are you?
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Old 09-16-2015, 07:05 AM   #14
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Re: How Do Other General Contractors Estimate?


Quote:
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greg where in jersey??.....im in toms river
Yes, Princeton area
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Old 11-09-2015, 07:29 AM   #15
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Re: How Do Other General Contractors Estimate?


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Yes, Princeton area
Another Princeton area guy here
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Old 11-13-2015, 11:15 PM   #16
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Re: How Do Other General Contractors Estimate?


Spread sheets. Chech and recheck. Build it as you break down each and every aspect of the project.
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Old 12-07-2015, 08:03 AM   #17
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Re: How Do Other General Contractors Estimate?


If anyone is interested I design Program in Excel have several almost ready they will do takeoffs and estimating etc. would like some input. I'm retired Contractor may need some beta testers and some input as to exactly what your needs may be and try to fulfill them.
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Old 12-07-2015, 10:58 AM   #18
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Re: How Do Other General Contractors Estimate?


Excel (actually google drive).

I always just copy the last one and fill in all the lines. Lots and lots is guessing. With remodels I don't know exactly how much work will need to be done. But it's like the Price is Right. At this point, I'm just really good at it and I can generally guess what my subs will cost and how much self performed work everything will take.

The spreadsheet just makes the math easy and accurate, and spits out nice totals for allowance items, self-performed work (the bid fixed price portion of my contracts), and profit.

Been doing it this way since I started WAY back in 2007.

I learned spreadsheets in Junior high math, and it has been one of my most valuable skills.
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Old 12-07-2015, 03:40 PM   #19
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Re: How Do Other General Contractors Estimate?


I've got a giant spreadsheet with tasks on it with quantities that I fill in. Been working on it for years... delete everything that I don't use and format it for printing.

It's a pretty good solution, but relies on what's in my head... so if I get hit by a bus or something, someone else would have to either start over or do a lot of head-scratching to figure it out.

At the end of the day, I think we'd be better off with a dedicated program that is easily teachable to another person.
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Old 12-07-2015, 03:46 PM   #20
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Re: How Do Other General Contractors Estimate?


Quote:
Originally Posted by JDCOLLUM View Post
If anyone is interested I design Program in Excel have several almost ready they will do takeoffs and estimating etc. would like some input. I'm retired Contractor may need some beta testers and some input as to exactly what your needs may be and try to fulfill them.
I'll give it a shot. I went out on my own fairly recently, so I'd be glad to test it out for you.

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