Fast accurate estimates for contractors | Pro Construction Guide
Accurate estimates for contractors

Fast accurate estimates for contractors

5 steps to fast, accurate estimates

For each job, generate an estimate spreadsheet with categories and subcategories.

With this tried and true system to create fast accurate estimates for contractors, turn bids around in a few days and guarantee your prices.

During the early part of his 20-year career, remodeler Lucas Papageorge Jr. of Fairfield, Connecticut, worked for investors who wanted to flip houses fast. They relied on him to provide fast accurate estimates for contractors.

From that experience, Papageorge, owner of LCP General Contractors, developed a successful estimating system that enables him to win more jobs because he can turn his bids around in a few days and guarantee his prices. Have your own streamlined process to create accurate estimates for contractors by following these steps :

Step 1: Collect data

Know the labor and material costs in your area. If you work regularly with the same subcontractors, it’s easier to estimate their prices quickly without having to bring them to appointments with potential clients.

If anything about the job appears to be out of the ordinary, give the sub a quick call to get a general idea of what he’ll charge.

Step 2: Create an estimate spreadsheet

To estimate every job, generate an estimate spreadsheet with categories and subcategories. Divide the spreadsheet into projects and itemize each project. Be as thorough as possible for each category and subcategory, but leave blank spaces for items labeled “to be determined.”

Be careful to list what’s not included, for example: Excavating includes digging a new foundation, stockpiling materials and backfilling and feeding the lawn. Excavating does not include pulling out unsuitable materials or hauling in topsoil.

This will help you guarantee your prices because clients will know what’s covered, and that costs will be higher if they ask for extras.

On your initial inspection, explain what services won’t be in the estimate that could impact the cost, for example: Older buildings could have asbestos in walls and ceilings, and removal charges will be added to the final bill.

Step 3: Let the owners know what they will supply

The estimate should be mainly for labor and construction materials because you can’t guarantee your price if the clients decide they want more expensive tile, grout or light fixtures.

Make sure they understand that what they pay will be higher or lower depending on what they select, and that those items are not in the estimate. Suggest clients go to showrooms and suppliers you work with to make their selections.

Step 4: Educate the owners about costs

If you inform clients about your process and how costs are generated, they may be willing to pay more – or cut costs. For example, some clients may not want workers using their bathrooms, but might change their minds when they see the cost of a portable toilet on the estimate spreadsheet.

Step 5: Guarantee your prices

You will be competing with other contractors whose bids might be lower than yours, so let clients know your price is guaranteed unless they want something additional. Emphasize that there will be no surprises with your estimate and that not all contractors can promise that.

Using this system to create fast accurate estimates for contractorsfor will help you eliminate as much guesswork as possible and make it possible to get your bid to the client first. An estimate that’s done quickly and that’s in the owner’s price range will be the one that’s selected.

Finally, the closer the final cost is to your estimate, the more professional you will appear to clients and the more likely they’ll recommend your company to others.

–By Lucas Papageorge Jr., LCP General Contractors, Fairfield, Connecticut

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