Learning construction estimating is all about developing a comprehensive understanding of the complete building process. To develop a precise and detailed construction estimates, construction estimators use building plans, project specifications, and exhaustive information acquired through site visits to estimate the cost of completing a job. The final developed estimate includes all the necessary materials and labor costs related with construction and project management, along with overhead, profit, and fees. Understanding the building process helps estimators to study a project carefully to generate an accurate estimate.
A degree program helps in attaining an understanding of the basics of the construction industry. Degrees in Engineering, Architecture or Construction Management prove to be of great help in the long run as a professional degree gives knowledge about the usage of different materials and their installation. Besides, a specialized estimating course, that highlights estimating procedures and the use of estimating software, is of immense importance.
On- field experience is a great teacher. On-job training or internships leads to spending a considerable amount of time on construction site which is the best possible way of getting familiar with all the diverse factors affecting a project. There are varied elements that affect an estimate and it is significant to note that these elements vary from job to job. Usually large general contractors hire students with major in construction trades for internships as well as entry level jobs. These students start with working on the site and supporting the project manager and superintendent.
To have a clear knowledge of construction estimation, it is important to be able to read blueprints. An estimator can gather most of the information about a project from its blueprints. It is also essential to detect discrepancies among different segments of the plans, and to clarify these items before finalizing an estimate.
Understanding the mechanical and electrical systems is also required. These two most complicate elements are a vital part of a construction estimate and proper understanding of these elements help in preparing an accurate construction cost estimate.
Familiarity with the MasterFormat system developed by the Construction Specifications Institute (CSI) is also plays a crucial role in learning construction estimation. Used by the entire construction industry, this system aids in organizing construction activities, project specifications, and various other components. Most of the estimating software is also arranged as per the MasterFormat. The MasterFormat is available for free at the CSI website.