Cost Estimating

From Vision to Reality
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We have to be agile. We have to match the needs of every client.


Ryan Alligood | Director | Watchdog Real Estate Project Management

Cost Estimating

When your estimator and project management team are one and the same, there is no project “hand off.” Your project estimator has open lines of communication with your project management team, enhancing the understanding of the project goals, therefore enhancing the accuracy of your estimate.

Conceptual Cost Estimating

Conceptual cost estimating takes place before any detailed design drawings have been produced. The estimate helps the owner understand the overall cost control program and provides a first check against the project budget. At this stage, a conceptual cost estimate sheds light on potential cost overruns, while there is still time to identify alternatives. It is critical that your estimator listen carefully to the owner's vision and priorities when developing an estimate during this stage so that this estimate is in line with future, more detailed estimates. Contingency will be highest at this stage and will get smaller as the project becomes more defined.

Schematic Design Estimates

A schematic design estimate is prepared from the schematic design documents. It is more detailed than the conceptual estimate because most of the quantities are developed from preliminary plans and specifications. During this stage, some quantities are still based on the estimator's assumptions, making it important for the estimator to have experience and a deep understanding of the project goals. Contingency will decrease from the conceptual estimate.

Completed Documents

When design and construction documents are completed, the estimate is finalized, typically leaving a 2-3% contingency. The estimate will be most detailed at this stage, as quantities and materials have been determined. At this point, the estimate becomes the owner's estimate of funding needs.

Cost Estimating during Value Engineering

Cost estimating is critical during value engineering. To bring a project into budget, all costs, materials and quantities must be fully understood. Cost estimators will collaborate with project consultants to identify alternative methods and materials that do no sacrifice scope, quality, or design intent. Cost estimators can contribute during this process, as they have a comprehensive view of the project and can identify savings opportunities holistically.
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