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How to Write an Estimate Out for a Construction Job

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You've been asked to submit a bid for a construction development, visited the site, scrutinized the drawings and now you're ready to write your estimate and submit your bid to the client. You may wonder how to do this effectively, so the client can see your calculations and costs clearly and in an informative way, thus providing a good impression of you and your company. There are a number of elements to a clear construction estimate.

Take a piece of quantity paper (a sheet which has vertical lines pre-drawn to provide columns in which you can enter your quantities, units of measurements and rates), or open a new spreadsheet.

Clearly state the development title or name at the top of each page, as well as your business details and those of your potential client.

Give your estimate clear headings, such as "Substructure," "Plumbing," "Electrical" and so on.

Beneath each heading, split out the relevant elements of that portion of construction. For example, the "Substructure" heading will have items such as "Excavating foundation trenches" or "Concrete required" beneath it.

Next to each item, clearly state the quantity you have estimated, the units of measurement, the cost per unit and the final cost. For example, "Concrete: 5 tons at $100 per ton = $500."

You will need to split each element into a separate column--this will make it easy for you to use a formula to calculate the total costs automatically. In the above example, under the headings "Quantity," "Unit" and "Cost," the spreadsheet would simply read "5, t, $100." The total can then be calculated by your software.

Provide a subtotal for each heading, so the client can see at a glance the all-in price for substructures, plumbing and so on.

Double-check your sums, costs and quantities to avoid any errors. Make sure you have covered all of your material and labor costs.

Clearly display the total contract sum at the end of your estimate, and state it on the covering letter of your bid.


The more detail, the better. This will show you have been thorough and accurate.


Be prepared to be asked for a reduction in your price. Make sure you know in advance the maximum discount amount you can provide.


About the Author

Ben Wakeling graduated from Coventry University in 2009 with an upper second class honours B.Sc. degree in construction management. Wakeling is also a freelance writer, and works for a number of businesses, such as Demand Studios, Suite 101 and Academic Knowledge.

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