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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've been working at a contracting company as an estimator for some time. The company also has a full-time project manager, one owner who focuses on financials, business dealings, etc. and the other owner, who is an "operations manager" (this person didn't make for a good project manager, so someone else was hired for this).

Here's my issue. Because I needed to do an accurate take-off for each project we're working on, I'm quite familiar with the job, since I've spent time going through the drawings, specifications, and addenda. I understand that it makes sense for me to share some of the key details about the job with the other office staff, but what this seems to have turned into is my being the "official reader of blueprints", and since the company is moving to larger jobs, this is becoming more of an issue. The project manager and operations manager are frequently interrupting my work to ask simple questions about the current job, such as "how tall is wall X supposed to be", "where does the rebar in this wall go", "which insulation goes in this wall", "which wall ties are we supposed to use for this veneer"... you get the picture. This occurs even when the person has easy, immediate access to the blueprints and specifications, and I'm trying to do something else (usually working on an estimate for a job currently being tendered). The operations manager, in fact, will attend formal pre-job meetings at the general contractor's office, and usually does nothing before the meeting to prepare for it except trying to play 20 questions with me on the phone beforehand. At one point, I was called a little while before such a meeting and asked "what do I need to know?". The same person is also convinced that if they do nothing but look at my bill of materials, they then have enough information to supervise the job. On one job where this occurred, he proudly sent pictures of the work that had been done on-site to show our progress, but I immediately saw several obvious mistakes in the pictures. Mistakes that the person taking the photo would have seen in an instant if they were more familiar with the job. I think it's a laziness issue.

I completely expect to be asked questions regarding product types, quantities to be ordered, etc. since I did the take-off and have that information. However, I've always been of the opinion that once a project is awarded, the project manager should spend a good amount of time familiarizing themselves with the details of the job, to the point that they could easily answer the questions in my last paragraph without outside assistance. Is this not how things are normally done?
 

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You have made yourself to available for their BS. It's not the estimators job to tell the PM what is on job site prints, scope of any of that. Just tell them "I don't know" or "I'm busy right now".
 

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What Stab said. And/or ... you’re obviously playing an important partbof the tram, be thankful they trust you enough to repeatedly ask for your help. And this might be a good segway for you to become a PM.
 

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Sounds like your coworkers are leaving it up to you for a quick answer instead of looking @ prints etc. Talk to owner about it, or to make salary adjustments. Squeaky wheel gets grease or rolled over

Mike
 

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You can quit and work elsewhere.

or

Set up a time to give a company-wide class on reading and understanding blueprints the way you do so that these other people become better at their jobs and can be less of a pain in your life. (this will take a directive from the owner to make happen)
 

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Yep, unless you want this to go on forever, you need to train these people on what their responsibilities are and show them how to use the drawings and specs to find the information they need.
Agreed ... Owner needs to support this.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Set up a time to give a company-wide class on reading and understanding blueprints the way you do so that these other people become better at their jobs and can be less of a pain in your life. (this will take a directive from the owner to make happen)
That's actually a funny idea... I started off as a high school teacher, and moved into the trades because I couldn't deal with the "social engineering" aspect of teaching. And as it happens, I pitched the idea to the owner, and in the end I made a 20-page tutorial on how to read architectural prints, full of graphics, table of contents, etc. Think I still have it. Anyhow, the copy that the owner gave to this guy to brush up on the subject sits in this guy's office to this day. With no fold or crease on the corner I stapled. :mad:
 

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So tell the owner you'll be doing OJT with these jokers. You'll walk them through their question, but you aren't going to answer it, you'll just make sure they know how to come up with the right answer by doing hand holding.

Don't give them the answer, that's what they want.
 

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yup, the old don't give 'em a fish...

teach them how to fish...

how come a pm doesn't know how to read plans?

they don't help with estimating either?
 

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That's actually a funny idea... I started off as a high school teacher, and moved into the trades because I couldn't deal with the "social engineering" aspect of teaching. And as it happens, I pitched the idea to the owner, and in the end I made a 20-page tutorial on how to read architectural prints, full of graphics, table of contents, etc. Think I still have it. Anyhow, the copy that the owner gave to this guy to brush up on the subject sits in this guy's office to this day. With no fold or crease on the corner I stapled. :mad:
Because he can’t find the time to read it. Or he doesn’t learn well from paper. Time to schedule a couple of 1 hour sessions. Get the owner to spring for coffee and donuts. Keep the lessons short.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I guess I have a follow-up question then - Of course every business is different, but in your opinion, where does an estimator's job end and the PM's begin? I mean, there are a certain set of tasks to be performed at each stage of a project. Some the estimator has, and the project manager never will. Some will overlap too. I feel like those that do overlap should be fully transferred from the estimator to the PM at some point in time, right?

For example, even after a job is awarded, I'd expect the estimator to put together the appropriate material orders, but not act as a liaison between the project manager and the blueprints (or the foreman and the blueprints).
 

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Where does your job end? Depends on if you want to be seen as a “its not my job” person, or as a person who is trying to be as useful to the company as possible. And if you expand your skills you could work yourself up to a better position. Whats to say that the way the company works now is the best way? Maybe you can help transition to something better.
 
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