Side Story: Perspective — When do you Need an Estimating Consultant?


May 2008


Domenic LivoliBy Domenic Livoli

Today, masonry contractors must be competitive in their pricing to be awarded projects. Some are not at a level of volume that will support a full-time estimator, so the owner might estimate projects at night after a hard day of work in the field. At some point, he will make a decision to grow to the next level, often entering a marketplace of complex masonry projects. Bidding on more projects and increasing volume will require additional resources.

Some mid-size to large masonry contractors with one or more estimators run into situations in which they are pressed for time and would like to bid on more projects. Many masonry projects use multiple colored patterns of brick, block, stone, etc. that are tedious to separate in the bid process. If the estimator is awarded the project, he then must spend extra time and concentration to order each part and piece. In each of these circumstances, a masonry estimating consultant would be useful.

Most masonry contractors are inquisitive when hiring a consultant. The biggest concerns are regarding cost of services, accuracy and presentation of the estimate. References from fellow contractors, suppliers and trade associations are the best ways to research and interview a consultant. As masonry is highly specialized, contractors should look for someone with comprehensive knowledge of how the project will be built, the materials and accessories that will be used in building the project, conditions that will affect productivity, use of manpower, and market conditions. It is not just about square footage of wall area. One way a mason contractor can gain confidence in a consultant is to have him estimate a project the contractor has already estimated or built. Many contractors will just want a quantity takeoff of materials and accessories. Some want help with pricing. Communication is necessary to relay to the consultant how you want the project broken down (special conditions, waste factors, etc.) Also, does the consultant use the same estimating software as the contractor? If so, this will make for easy data transfer and manipulation.

An estimating consultant can be a useful asset that does not require a full-time financial commitment. The exchange of information, different practices and experiences can be invaluable as well.



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