Life at Flatiron

The One with the Interns: Estimating Week (aka “Father Knows Best”)

Devon here.

As part of our Flatiron internship, all the interns were required to spend a week focused on estimating. We learned key aspects and pitched in on some projects to further our understanding of estimating.

For my week, I was assigned to work with my Dad. Considering I had reported to him for the first 18 years of my life, I was not thrilled, to say the least.

That said, it was not as bad as I thought, despite my fears. This was actually one of the more enjoyable weeks so far. Using Skype, he was able to show me what he needed me to do and how to complete each task. I would then report back to him after said tasks were complete, and a new one would be assigned. I think he enjoyed slamming me with tasks, and staying on top of me to finish them.

During the week, I was mainly doing take-offs for a project we’re pursuing. I also spent time shadowing and asking questions to become more fluent in estimating. During this week, I was able to increase my skills in Excel, Bluebeam and Google Earth which are essential programs for estimators.

Not surprisingly, the key to achieving a good estimate is to be as accurate as possible. The estimate should include all of the potential costs and quantities associated with building or completing the project.

Performing key roles in the construction industry, estimators are required to break down the plans and specifications to capture all the different costs of a project. Project teams use the conformed estimate to create their budgets. For a traditional bid-build project, the first step is to obtain the plans and specs for the project. Upon review of the specifications, a plan flip (a look through of every page of the plans to make sure everything covered, and other revisions for safety) is completed to get a better idea of what the project entails.

The estimating team then goes through the entire set of plans and performs an extensive takeoff to capture all quantities for the various scopes of work on the job. They will collaborate and review the historical data that has been generated from previously completed projects. (This is one reason that accurate cost and quantity tracking on the project is so imperative. If incorrect quantities and costs are being reported, this will give our estimating team skewed information.) After all of the takeoffs have been completed, the team then prices all of the various scopes of work based upon the analyzed takeoffs. After these listed steps have been completed, the pricing will be submitted to the agency or owner that has the project out for bid. For example TxDOT for example will inform companies who the apparent low bidder is on bid day.

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