Importance of a Good Estimate

Chip McAlpin / September 2020

I am excited to provide you with my August President’s Message. It seems hard to believe that summer is already winding down and that it will be fall before we know it.
    
I hope everyone is staying safe and that your businesses are doing as well as could be expected during these unpredictable times. One thing that seems to be unaffected, in my area at least, is the amount of jobs that are out for bid. We, like I am sure many of you, were concerned of the impact these times would have on our future work. We have been delighted by how the industry has persevered through these times. It is assuring to see that projects continue to move forward, and everyone is doing everything we can to continue working.
    
Our topic this month is on the importance of estimating and how it can affect our business, both positively and negatively. We have all experienced the struggles of executing an accurate estimate, based on someone else’s intention. Maybe one of these days we will be able to “weigh” the plans to come up with a price, but until then, we will continue to do our best at studying the drawings to put together our estimates.
    
As time has progressed, I do believe we have improved as an industry on positioning ourselves for success through our estimating. We are also taking the necessary time to ensure that everything goes smoothly from bid day all the way through the end of the project. For the industry as a whole, this is of critical importance to prove that we are the qualified professionals we know ourselves to be. We must be willing to constantly improve and adapt based on new technology and new industry standards. It will allow us to stay at the forefront of any new challenges and provide us with long and rewarding careers.
    
The importance of good estimating is something that I believe all of you know well. It starts with our estimators familiarizing themselves with all aspects of the job. I would not want to bid a job that I do not understand. I want to know what my plan will be for how I will complete the project. That ranges from knowing the schedule is feasible, to understanding the building and how it all comes together. I would be uncomfortable submitting a proposal on a job if I cannot think through building it. Making sure we have the necessary details and complete information, supplied by architects and engineers, is of the utmost importance when completing an estimate.
    
We all know both the positive and negative effects estimating can have on our businesses. Completing an accurate estimate provides us with the opportunity to be competitive on bid day and, if awarded the project, allows us to build it successfully. If our estimates are not accurate, we can run into a few different issues such as being short of materials and labor and not being able to sufficiently plan our future manpower needs.
    
There is a lot more to estimating than just coming up with a material list. It provides us with a budget and gives us the ability to successfully plan for the future.

In addition to being 2020–2021 president of the Association of the Wall and Ceiling Industry, Chip McAlpin is division president of the Jackson, Miss., and Louisiana offices of F.L. Crane & Sons.