Learning to estimate construction costs

Construction estimators used construction drawings, project specifications and the information obtained from visits to the site to estimate the cost of a job. The estimate that they contain all the material and hand of work associated with the construction and project management, as well as overhead costs, benefits and other charges.

The key to learning to develop estimates of construction is to develop an increasingly comprehensive understanding of the construction process. This allows the estimator to develop a thorough analysis of the project to develop an estimate as accurate as possible.


  1. Enroll in an accredited course. Engineering, Construction Management or Architecture can provide you a thorough understanding of the fundamentals of the construction industry. You will learn about the different materials used and how they are installed. In addition, you’ll get an idea of ​​how buildings come together, and how different construction activities relate to each other. These courses include calculus classes and use of software estimation.
  2. Looking for a specialized course estimation. Many technological institutes of the community and technical colleges offer certification programs or individual courses that teach construction estimating. These courses can help you learn the basics of the construction process and also teach you to see the process with a critical eye.
  3. Acquires field experience through internships or training in the workplace. Many elements can affect an estimate and these elements may be different in each job. Spending time on the construction site is one of the best ways to become familiar with the various factors that may affect a project. Many large contractors hire students majoring in construction, both for internships and for jobs to choose to enter the company. These students usually start working at the site as assistant project manager and superintendent. You can get a true understanding of what it really takes to build a building or other project.
  4. Learn how to read blueprints. As estimator, most of the information you need for a project comes from its planes. In general, this ability can learn on your own with a little patience and practice. If you find it too difficult, it takes courses at your local technical institute or association of contractors. Develop good habits now plan review to help you when you go to develop the estimate of a job. This includes taking note of all the information in the plane, such as symbols and numbered notes. It is also important to look for discrepancies between the different sections of the planes, and clarify these points before submitting an estimate.
  5. Improve your understanding of the mechanical and electrical systems. These two elements usually make up most of an estimated construction costs and are also considered as the most complicated. The more you know about these elements, more likely you are to prepare an accurate estimate. Consider taking a course in basic electricity or HVAC systems. Read books on these subjects, especially those aimed at commercial systems. When looking for internships, think about taking a position with mechanical or electrical subcontractor. You’ll get invaluable knowledge that will be very beneficial for your career as an estimator and you may locate far ahead of other candidates when you begin to seek employment.
  6. Familiarize yourself with the Master Format system developed by the Construction Specifications Institute (CSI). This system is used throughout the construction industry as a way to organize construction activities, project specifications and other components. As an estimator, you will notice that most of your estimates are organized according to this system. Most software estimation are also organized according to the Master Format. They are 50 divisions in the system and each is divided into dozens of individual sections. For example, Division 22 is for plumbing, and Sections 22 01 to 22 20 containing various elements of plumbing materials and methods. Using this system helps an estimator to develop a comprehensive offering less omissions.