The Estimating and/or Preconstruction Management Career Path – What is a day in the life?
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Estimating and preconstruction titles. They are used in crossover often, yet someone can work in preconstruction and not ever have prepared a detailed estimate before. Where did the crossover come in? The crossover came in when the majority of projects went from being submitted to contractors as construction documents in a competitive bid scenario, to more design build and design assist project along with the more prevalent sale of preconstruction service contracts. Developers and Developer Builders also will more often than not title their individual or individuals taking projects through Program/Conceptual, Schematic Design, Design Development and Construction Document phase preconstruction manager versus estimators, due to they are often involved in the strategy of a project’s success, and the estimate is just one of the costs associated with delivering that strategy. They rely on the contractors for the detailed numbers.

Click to reveal typical job responsibilities associated with each stage of growth in an estimating career:

  • Request from Project Estimator an organized and dated log of bid documents
  • Storing and Distributing/ Publishing Bid Documents
  • Collecting and Organizing Vendor Proposals/ Quotes
  • Maintain an updated Vendor/ Sub-Contractor List and keep this information confidential within company database
  • Assist maintaining an updated Vendor/ Sub-Contractor Pre-Qualification log
  • Assist Estimators with follow-up calls and correspondence to vendors to collect bids and bid data
  • All other assigned business- related responsibilities to aid estimators with meeting bid deadlines or represent company at estimating related events
  • Read and Interpret Drawings and Project Specifications
  • Survey/Quantify Materials/Assemblies from Drawings
  • Develops knowledge of Takeoff & Estimating Software
  • Organizes Quantity Takeoffs for ease of Audit
  • Focus at Concept / Schematic is Interiors Estimating
  • Capable of Structural/Civil Estimates at DD / CD
  • Contacting/Follow-up with Subcontractors for Pricing Input
  • Prepares notes from Phone Conversations
  • Arranges for Document Reproduction / Distribution
  • Develops knowledge of construction pricing
  • Makes recommendations for Software upgrades
  • Makes recommendations for database pricing changes
  • Read and Interpret Drawings and Project Specifications
  • Survey/Quantify Materials/Assemblies from Drawings
  • Develops knowledge of Takeoff & Estimating Software
  • Organizes Quantity Takeoffs for ease of Audit
  • Focus at Concept / Schematic is Interiors Estimating
  • Capable of Structural/Civil Estimates at DD / CD
  • Contacting/Follow-up with Subcontractors for Pricing Input
  • Prepares notes from Phone Conversations
  • Arranges for Document Reproduction / Distribution
  • Develops knowledge of construction pricing
  • Makes recommendations for Software upgrades
  • Makes recommendations for database pricing changes
  • Demonstrated proficiency in Scope Review Process
  • Demonstrated proficiency in Subcontractor knowledge Demonstrated proficiency in OST / Timberline
  • Demonstrates Knowledge of Conceptual Estimating
  • Demonstrated proficiency in Interiors Estimating
  • Developing skills in Structural / Civil Estimating at Concept/SD
  • Developing knowledge of client relations and estimate presentations
  • Greater depth of knowledge with regard to Technical Specs
  • Greater depth of knowledge with regard to pricing levels
  • Meets Deadline challenges
  • Read and Interpret Drawings and Project Specifications
  • Survey/Quantify Materials/Assemblies from Drawings
  • Develops knowledge of Takeoff & Estimating Software
  • Organizes Quantity Takeoffs for ease of Audit
  • Focus at Concept / Schematic is Interiors Estimating
  • Capable of Structural/Civil Estimates at DD / CD
  • Contacting/Follow-up with Subcontractors for Pricing Input
  • Prepares notes from Phone Conversations
  • Arranges for Document Reproduction / Distribution
  • Develops knowledge of construction pricing
  • Makes recommendations for Software upgrades
  • Makes recommendations for database pricing changes
  • Demonstrated proficiency in Scope Review Process
  • Demonstrated proficiency in Subcontractor knowledge Demonstrated proficiency in OST / Timberline
  • Demonstrates Knowledge of Conceptual Estimating
  • Demonstrated proficiency in Interiors Estimating
  • Developing skills in Structural / Civil Estimating at Concept/SD
  • Developing knowledge of client relations and estimate presentations
  • Greater depth of knowledge with regard to Technical Specs
  • Greater depth of knowledge with regard to pricing levels
  • Meets Deadline challenges
  • Supervision of Estimating Engineers / Estimators
  • Checks work of Estimators / Estimating Engineers Mentors Estimators / Estimating Engineers
  • Leads major estimating efforts
  • Develops Estimate Reports / Clarifications
  • Strong subcontractor knowledge and relations Experienced in presenting estimating results to clients Developed knowledge of all CSA trades
  • Competent at conceptual and detailed levels of estimating Value Engineering leadership and tracking
  • Process Control
  • Drives Deadlines and Achieves Results
  • Mastery of Scope Review Process
  • Mastery of Company Take Off and Estimating/Scheduling Softwares
  • Consults with Architects/Engineers on Project Parameters
  • Ensures Database Pricing updates are completed
  • Has mastered all the above of a Senior Estimator and has demonstrated leadership abilities to coordinate a team of estimators to develop multi-disciplinary estimates
  • A Chief is defined as having five or more estimators under them where as a Senior Lead may be the sole estimator within the department. In the past decade and with smaller companies the Chief Estimator title is often given regardless of

Has Ability to:

  • Discuss the development of deliverables with the various disciplines to achieve the accuracy required
  • Prepare estimate basis documentation
  • Present completed estimates to senior management and clients
  • Perform independent reviews of work performed by others
  • Identify deficiencies in the drawings and other source information and be able to provide pricing for such deficiencies
  • Understand the need for, and be able to write scope clarifications
  • Develop quantity based estimates from partial information (forced quantities)
  • Obtain subcontract and vendor pricing and be able to develop budget pricing for subcontractors
  • Be able to develop preliminary lifting plans and select appropriate cranes and other equipment
  • Develop preliminary schedules and identify critical phases and recourses
  • Develop execution plans for the work
  • Able to accurately depict takeoff elements of the work
  • Review standard database items and recommend appropriate changes to be made to reflect field conditions
  • Have sufficient field experience to build field indirect staffing and equipment plans for incorporation into the estimate
  • Develop appropriate Work Breakdown Structures (WBS) to facilitate understanding of the estimate by others and to allow trending
  • Prepare bridging documents demonstrating an understanding of how estimate costs have changed from previous estimates
  • Responsible for all Preconstruction Deliverables to clients; Program/Conceptual, Schematic Design, Design Development and Construction Documents.
  • Develops Strategy for each Assigned Project
  • Risk Management – Ensures Sound Financial Deals
  • Oversees Estimates for projects at all stages
  • Accuracy of Estimates Produced
  • Oversees the Preconstruction meetings for each project
  • Takes lead in preparing GMP’s/Brings GMP’s to closure
  • Helps Directs/Reviews/Approves work of Sr Estimators / Estimators in relation to meeting deliverables
  • Drives Deadlines and Achieves Results
  • Ensures Client Satisfaction during preconstruction
  • Attends Sales Presentations
  • Markets Work to Existing Clients
  • Enforce/Support Project Execution Planning with Operations Ensures Involvement of Subcontractors for Pricing
  • Support to Operations during subcontractor negotiations
  • Develop/Train Staff

Preconstruction titles will promote up to Director, VP etc., and some of these additional responsibilities will be added:

  • Risk Management Oversight
  • Preconstruction Planning/Staffing
  • Company Events, Recognition (Office-Wide) Compensation/Recruiting/Hiring/Termination/Promotions Employee Relations
  • Networking with Clients / AE’s
  • Support to Sales / BD Team / Sales Presentations
  • Training (and Compliance) of 10 Commandments
  • Troubled Projects
  • (Recognizing, Mitigating, Resolving, Avoiding)
  • Drives Culture
  • Mentor / Leader / Motivator / Coach, teaching Ethics, Diversity, Quality, Development, etc..)
  • Business / Strategic Planning
  • Annual Budgeting

Every construction company should be taking the basics and developing their departmental expectations and structure including organizational chart, titles, job descriptions and accountability structure. If you are a General Contractor specializing in Design Build/Design Assist projects then you may have a Senior Estimator job description like below:

  • Prepare estimates with the necessary level of detail for all design stages: Program/Conceptual, Schematic Design, Design Development and Construction Documents.
  • Prepare quantity take-offs and estimated costs of materials, labor, and use of equipment required to fulfill all provisions of the contract from simple to complex. Prepare quantity take-offs and estimates in detail for self-performed work (Selective demolition, concrete, steel erection, carpentry, etc.)
  • Evaluate labor pricing/production for specific projects and/or locations; demonstrate proficiency in material, labor, sub and equipment pricing for all trade disciplines.
  • Assemble general conditions estimates for review by VP Preconstruction and/or Senior Project Manager Assist with maintaining the estimating cost data base to ensure costs are up to date.
  • Manage job-specific estimating teams in the assembly and submission of bids.
  • Prepare Estimate Action List; establish responsibilities and make assignments to estimating team members; coordinate and supervise work; establish schedule for completion of tasks to meet project requirements; keep Chief Estimator advised in regard to schedule.
  • Review estimate assignments to ensure accuracy and completeness prior to formal submission.
  • Consult with clients, architects, subcontractors, and material suppliers to discuss and formulate estimates, effect cost reductions, and resolve issues.
  • Study specifications to assist the operations team in planning procedures for construction. Research construction documents and analyze specifications to determine estimated costs.
  • Work with the operations team throughout the preconstruction process in reviewing plans and specifications for constructability issues and determining general requirements on the project.
  • Understand how to create proper bid packages and bid alternate strategies.
  • Ensure that all work items from scope review are included in estimate and that cost trail from bids to Bid Package Scope Analysis Worksheets to estimate is clear and correct.
  • Prepare clear, properly formatted, Bid Package Scope Analysis Worksheets; review Bid Analysis Worksheets prepared by others for coordination.
  • Manage the subcontractor solicitation process using SmartBidNet. Assure that the appropriate team members are part of the approval process for all bid lists. Issue bid invitations to subcontractors/vendors – Ensure adequate bid coverage for each trade package (receipt of 3 bids minimum, 4 to 5 preferred); generate interest and get commitments on subcontractor participation; obtain local participation to meet project needs.
  • Review subcontractor and supplier bids for conformity to contract requirements and determine acceptable bids.
  • Present and explain project budgets to clients, designers, and operations teams. Lead estimate presentations; “sell” estimates to Client and design team.
  • Perform comprehensive bid day analysis and scoping of specific assigned trades. Understand how to scale subs to the size/scope of the project.
  • Communicate with subcontractors on key issues, such as project schedule, addenda, scope of work, and other bid information.
  • Ensure that there is proper trade package coverage of subcontractors on bid day. Ensure that all quantity surveys and pricing are accurate and complete.
  • Seek and qualify new subcontractors

The above gives you job descriptions from a responsibility and skill level. Below is a drop down of behavioral skills that someone should also possess in the various levels of career development.

  • Good Attitude
  • Enthusiastic/Optimistic
  • Happily Accepts Direction
  • Does Without Being Told
  • Partners Easily With Anyone
  • Works Hard, Has Fun
  • Goes One Step Beyond
  • Learns By Watching Others
  • Thinks of Others
  • Asks Questions/Wants to Know
  • Participates/Has Ideas
  • Wants More
  • Valuable Contributor
  • Seeks Training
  • Computer Applications
  • Makes Own Decisions
  • Forms Key Partnerships
  • Good Communication Skills
  • Understands / Effective with Ops
  • Knows All the Systems
  • Beginning Delegation
  • Problem Solver
  • Knows When to Ask for Help
  • Can see the Big Picture
  • Showing competency from experience
  • Proven Trustworthy
  • Achieves Deadlines Consistently
  • Mastery of Computer Applications
  • Risk Manager
  • Veteran’s Enthusiam
  • Mentors/Trains/Develops
  • Data-Based / Experience-Based Decisions
  • Volunteers Beyond Capacity
  • Reputation Solidifies
  • Can Rally a Team
  • Strong Sense of Urgency
  • Earns Respect & Trust
  • Communicates Clearly & Effectively
  • Demonstrates Financial Acumen
  • Does Not Give Up When Facing Setbacks
  • Champions Culture
  • Manages Processes/Risk
  • Has Many Followers
  • Can Have a Tough Conversation
  • Makes a Tough Call
  • Draws Direction From Indicators
  • Can Get a Lot Done Via Delegation
  • Can See Problems Before They Come / Mitigates Develops Good Talent
  • Owns Direction & Outcome
  • Selflessly Serves Our People / Projects
  • Reads People, Deploys Strategically
  • The Community Knows Her/Him
  • Reports Effectively – All Directions
  • Builds Strategy From Factors
  • Good Negotiation / Persuasive
  • Sound Judgement / People Assessment Motivates Teams
  • Understands The Marketplace
  • Bottom line Risk Manager
  • An Expert-Business/Industry
  • Creative Vision
  • Can Move the Company/Industry/Corporate Strategy Into
  • Action Has Role In Industry Outside of Company
  • Servant to Our People
  • A Role Model
  • Teacher / Mentor / Advisor
  • Representative
  • Professional Expertise
  • Moves Decisively on Low Performers
  • Successfully Shapes Strategy
  • Can Motivate an Office / Department

We are always here to help you to create and maintain the best structure for your organization. Give us a call at 305-361-0094 to set up a time to come see us or for us to visit you. Nationally we are available via Skype and Facetime, or to connect you with a local representative to help you in your area.

Preconstruction and Estimating – two different roles that can be combined to form the right mix for your company. The right match can make or break the foundation and final delivery of your projects and relationships.