Construction Estimator Job Profile

The construction estimator, also known as cost estimator,  has one of the most important jobs in the industry. Estimators are responsible for creating the cost structures of projects. The cost estimator's role usually involves a comprehensive costing of an entire process of construction. The requirements for a project may have to be specified in detail, and contract obligations on the construction firm are involved. When the estimate is the basis of a bid for a construction contract, there's an additional commercial requirement to produce a competitive quote for the bid. 

The Work Environment

Some contracts can be extensive, and extremely complex. The estimate has to cover all aspects of the construction company's obligations under the contract. Accuracy of valuations is a major issue in this work. An inaccurate estimate may be grounds for legal action, from either the construction firm or other parties involved in the contract. Clients may also take action against the contractor over contract cost overruns, which imposes a direct liability on the estimator. To produce a complete estimate, the construction estimator must evaluate:

  • Materials costs: These are the real dollar costs of materials, including concrete, raw materials like bricks and prefabricated materials. 
  • Labor costs: This includes contractors, sub contractors or any labor which impacts the estimate. 
  • Insurance: A major concern in some projects, OHS laws and industry standards may require extensive coverage. 
  • Freight costs: A primary overhead, involving transportation of large amount of construction materials at the constructing firm's cost. 
  • Site issues: Some sites can create major costs for construction projects. Estimators will inspect a site to evaluate these issues and consult with the construction contractor to evaluate the site's needs. 
  • Contract issues: Depending on the job, construction may include creation of access to services like water, gas, electricity, and  may also involve actual installation of these services. In large developments in new housing areas construction of roads is a common component of real costs to the construction project. 
  • Subcontract costs: These are dollar denominated, but may include a range of requirements for the primary contract. 

The most important issues surrounding estimates include fraud, and the quality of materials. Some building projects are seriously compromised by the provision of sub-standard materials or services.

Hours and Wages

The hours that an estimator will work will vary, depending on the nature and complexity of the contract or work. The median range of income is $65,000.

The Career Environment

Construction estimators are highly qualified, true experts in the construction industry. They have an extensive knowledge of both the industry and the nature of the requirements for costing. Some estimators may operate as consultants, using their industry experience and networking as major career assets.