12 Dec 2009

How do I get a good construction estimate?

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QuestionHow do I get a good construction estimate?

AnswerThe jury is still out, but one thing is for sure; no one knows what a project costs until it’s finished. The industry and most contractors will suggest they are better estimators than architects are. I agree that a contractor will arrive at a price for your project, but it may not be the right price of your project. The problem is the suppliers and installers estimate prices based primarily on past projects. If you, your architect and contractor developed details to save money, but the installer wasn’t privy, you get the retail cost. The contractor may have a close and long-term personal or business relationship with his installer, but he probably doesn’t know what estimating factors his installers use. Another problem is the countless trades (usually 20+) on a job site all charging overhead and profit including the contractor. It’s almost impossible to lock down those charges. Be aware you will get a price, but it may be the price for someone else’s home. Even the budget estimates you and I discuss are the product of past experience, but it’s important owners know the most important question they ask “how much” is part science and a larger part witchcraft.

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About the Author


Your Architect is Eric Faulkner -- an architect licensed in Texas & Oklahoma with 29 years experience in design, construction observation and life.