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Increase Your Skills and Secure Your Future | By Charles Mahaffey

One of my recent assignments was to provide estimating services for the developer of a large resort in the Caribbean. The project was not only large in size and scope, there was another issue that added some difficulty to my task. This project (while under construction) had experienced the wrath of a monster hurricane.

Almost every area of this Caribbean island had signs of destruction: buildings without roofs, foundations without structures, huge boats strewn about the land, and some of the cars that were left in the aftermath looked as though they had been in a war zone.

All of this destruction will be followed by the monumental task of demolition, cleanup and rebuilding. However, before any of the rebuilding or new construction can begin, an estimator will need to prepare the quantity surveys and provide cost estimates for every project on the island.

On this particular project, an enormous amount of finished area was destroyed. More than 800,000 square feet of painted drywall had to be taken down. Workers that were previously working on the construction of this project were sent home until the job could be cleaned up, the damage assessed and new materials procured for every trade.

The estimates required on this project were so diverse in their scope and complexity that I sometimes found the assignment to be quite a challenge. I had to know how to provide cost estimates for concrete, metal framing, drywall, stucco, tile, floorcovering, millwork, painting, lumber, roofing, masonry, electrical, mechanical and fire protection.

Most of the cost records had been lost in the hurricane, so before any changes could be priced, a new cost basis had to be established. Arriving at the cost was no easy task because all the material had to be priced to include the cost of containerized freight to ship the material from the states to the island. The labor cost would require huge burdens that included fees for work-permits, airfare, accommodations, meals and transportation for the workers while they were on the island.

While I was deeply immersed in the estimating needs for this project, I also thought of the magnitude of estimating that was happening all over the island. Even though I have been involved with estimating for quite a long time, the importance of the estimator and the need for proficient estimators has never been so apparent to me.

I wonder about the estimating ability of the estimators who read the articles in Estimator’s Edge. Are you focused on the estimating of just one or two trades? I would encourage you to become proficient in as many estimating disciplines as possible.

As you learn how to estimate for other trades, you are providing for the security of your future. Your field of estimating might be limited to drywall at this point, but it is easy to springboard from drywall to acoustical ceilings, painting, floorcovering or even plaster.

With the exception of mechanical, electrical and earthwork, the rest of the trades are fairly easy to learn.

By increasing your estimating skills you can market yourself to other subcontractors, general contractors, developers, insurance companies, lending institutions or material suppliers.

If you have decided to make estimating your profession, there is one thing you should never experience—unemployment.

About the Author

Charles Mahaffey is president of Accuest, LLC, Marietta, Ga. Accuest provides estimating and consulting services for commercial drywall subcontractors.

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