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What does a Building Estimator do?

By Daphne Mallory
Updated May 17, 2024
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A building estimator assesses a construction project, conducts research, and prepares cost estimates and a budget. Other titles for a building estimator include cost estimator, quantity surveyor, and construction economist. The estimator is also charged with managing the budget once he creates it, and often has to administer the contracts that are associated with the project. These professionals often work on many types of building projects, such as commercial and residential properties. The ability to review and analyze plans is a must, and many building estimators have a degree in engineering, construction management, or a related degree.

One of the ways that businesses utilize the services of a building estimator is for contract bids. The building estimator has to determine the costs associated with a construction project so that the employer can prepare an informed bid. Part of the building estimator duties that are required to arrive at a bid include collecting data on costs for labor, materials, and the length of the project. The estimator also visits the construction site to collect more data and to finalize a plan that includes cost estimates. Many building estimators use forms to submit the cost information to the owners of construction firms or other employers.

There are many areas of specialty that a building estimator can work in, although some estimators choose to provide general services. Some estimators work on cost estimates for all the electrical work needed for construction projects, and they are known as the electrical experts for cost estimates. Other estimators may be hired to assess the excavation needs of projects, and those estimators are often selected based on their expertise in the area of excavation. Building estimators who specialize are often hired for large construction project jobs, where each estimator is assigned to work on one aspect of a project. Generalized building estimators work on entire projects and can work as consultants or employees for construction companies.

Preparation of financial statements, such as monthly cash flow forecasts, is a key responsibility of a building estimator. These are often needed for construction projects that last longer than 30 days. The estimator has to assess the financial situation and make forecasts to ensure that payments can be made to contractors and that the project stays within budget. They may also include tax depreciation and related issues.

A building estimator can either earn a college degree or work as an apprentice. Upon completing an apprenticeship, the estimator can often earn a certificate. With enough experience in the construction industry, a person can often bypass going to college and earn a living as a cost estimator.

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