Construction Budget Questions Answered

Construction Budget Questions Answered

Have you ever wondered how a construction company takes a customer’s ideas and creates a budget estimate? As a building owner, the estimating process can seem like your construction team has pulled numbers out of thin air, and those numbers can often be daunting. But a good estimating department actually draws on proven industry standards, a solid process, and a great deal of past experience to arrive at a reliable and fair estimate.

An estimator’s sole job is to price out your project as accurately as possible before you break ground, providing a clear picture of the costs involved. While there may always be unexpected expenses that come along during the building process, having a well-thought-out estimation is vital to the success of your overall project.

How does the estimation process begin?

An estimator uses the information the project developer has been given by the customer to start the estimation process. The project developer organizes the data into common categories that the estimator will analyze and use to create a rough budget. An estimator’s goal is to find and use the correct tools to chisel a budget out of the raw information provided.

How is an accurate budget built?

The best tool an estimator has to build an accurate budget is detailed information about the customer’s needs and desires. Does the customer want an astounding architectural feature or something simple? Are we designing for functionality, comfort and aesthetics? Is the customer going for a particular “feel” or “look”? With specific information about what the customer is expecting for the finished product, the estimator can prepare a more accurate budget.

What about subcontractor costs?

An open line of communication with subcontractors is always helpful to arrive at a dependable estimate. An estimator is responsible for deciding when it is appropriate to bring subcontractor input into the budget estimate. While the construction company is responsible for the overall project, subcontractors can provide valuable insight into the methods and costs required to bring a vision to life as well as any potential snowball effect from a particular design request. An estimator takes this information and extrapolates it to all scopes of work to avoid conflict or shifting cost from one area to another without easing the overall budget.

What are the benefits of working with a design-build company?

When a building owner chooses to work with an integrated design-build company, they will benefit from the tremendous value the design team brings to the estimating process. A professional architect has a seat at the estimating table and will know how to ask the right questions about design features. The results are a design and a budget that meets the customers’ goals and expectations.

Additionally, a design-build estimator will reach out to project managers to discuss timelines, potential issues and otherwise use their input to fill in the gaps between the owner’s concept and the design team’s input.

How does experience count when estimating?

With Bobbitt’s long history in commercial construction and design-build, we draw on historical data from past projects, giving us another valuable instrument to create the budget estimate. Our estimator can compare the designs and specs for the project with dozens of similar, recently built projects. This helps ensure all actual costs are covered and lowers the margin of error. Historical data is especially important when the customer’s vision hasn’t been fully fleshed out or challenged. Bobbitt can deliver a reliable budget based on various levels of design information from the owner, providing a baseline from which the owner can make budget decisions throughout the process.