Cost estimators working in the walls and ceilings industry know their job is perfected through experience, practice, and intuition. On a good day, you win the bid without feeling like you lost your shirt in the process. On a bad day, you bid too high and wonder what went wrong in your estimating process.

Inevitably, it all comes down to bid accuracy. Believe it or not, construction industry insider George Hedley believes that 80 percent of construction owners don’t know their true business cost. While it may feel like boom times with backlogs running nearly nine months, it’s still easy to miscalculate lineal feet of ceiling grid or metal track in your final bid. 


Chasing Down Final Bid Details

Estimating can often feel like a high-stakes video game where you’re trying to avoid “Game Over” before your final bid deadline. Today’s cost estimators must invest their time to pursue missing project details before finalizing their bid.

Whether leaning on subcontractors or digging for emails in a jammed inbox, managing late information and searching out missing details are a common part of any estimator’s bid prep.

It’s not unusual for material shipments to run late or trades to fall behind their schedule, but the estimator can control whether their numbers are accurate or need adjusting.

For example, if an estimator takes shortcuts with their labor estimate, they may just assume labor is the base wage plus 26 percent. But is it correct? Estimators should check with their accounting department regularly to ensure their true labor cost is accurate. Also, did you factor in the accurate hourly rate when hiring specialty labor or craftsmen?

Inevitably, presenting an organized and polished final bid means knowing all quantities are counted and measured and all materials and labor are factored correctly into the final bid.


Tips for Success

No doubt, the success of any project comes down to how well you interpreted the original project design—and holding down rework and delays to a minimum. Much of this is tied to how well you manage the project and keep track of project details and cost through to build-out, including material costs. This process always begins with a detailed takeoff and estimate.

Ready to build better bids? Here are five tips any estimator should keep front of mind that could make the difference between winning or losing a bid:

  1. Make sure attachments are clear so you can intentionally show specific things that are covered in your bid—especially those hidden items others may have overlooked.

  2. Show real scope by telling the client how your work will be completed versus just what they requested.

  3. Show quantities and details by over-communicating so the client is clear that your bid included the full scope of work.

  4. Reference the specs as part of your decision-making process to show respect and knowledge of the project’s goals.

  5. Anticipate what other trades will need to show how your trade/scope of work interrelates with another contractor’s work so you can show how you will accommodate others.


Using Tech Tools to Grow Your Profits

Typically, some cost estimators will get lucky with a project because they built fluff into their bid, or their crews will work faster than what was estimated. But with pressure mounting to accelerate the bid process and win more construction projects, many estimators are risking accuracy and introducing errors based on assumptions or old numbers.

Using job costing software alongside takeoff and estimating software is helping many contractors gain even greater visibility into why jobs don’t go as planned. Digital estimating tools can help anyone in the walls and ceilings business gather better, more detailed information, and leverage historical records from previous jobs. This will help you accurately compare job costs against the original estimate and more efficiently boost profits and achieve growth.

Let’s face it, no one wants to discover they’ve been miscalculating equipment costs for six months or forgetting to include site excavation work accurately. In On Center’s white paper, “Overcoming the Pitfalls of Estimating,” you can learn how to overcome your toughest estimating challenges to win more profitable projects for your construction business. Check it out now to ensure every bid awarded is accurate, not overcharged, or low-balled. W&C