The role of the contractor’s estimator is vital to the success of the organization as he or she is responsible for predicting the probable costs for construction in a way that is both clear and consistent. The estimator may have a feel for the prices in the market place but it is the responsibility of management to add an amount for general overheads, assess the risks and turn the estimate into a tender.
The estimator might be expected to carry out some quantity surveyor duties and procure materials and services depending on the size of the organization. For larger projects though the estimator may be part of a multi-disciplinary team led by a project manager. The estimating organization will comprise of a chief estimator, senior estimators and estimators at various stages of training.
Larger estimating departments usually have administrative and estimating assistants who can check calculations, photocopy extracts from the tender documents, prepare letters and enter data in a computer-assisted estimating system.
The estimating team has the estimator as its coordinator and is comprised of a contracts manager, buyer, planning engineer and quantity surveyor.
The quantity surveyor is consulted to examine amendments to conditions of contract, prepare a bill of quantities, assess commercial risks and identify possibly difficulties which have been experienced with previous contracts. Apparently, clients like to negotiate agreements with quantity surveyors where a good working relationship has been established and future projects are then based on pricing levels agreed from previous projects.
The planning engineer will then be asked to prepare a preliminary programme so that the proposed contract duration can be checked for possible savings. He or she can prepare method statements, temporary work designs, organizational charts and site layout drawings.
The buying office of supply chain manager will provide valuable information leading to the most economical sources for the supply of materials and plant. The buyer is essentially responsible for getting quotations from suppliers and sub-contractors but also prepares lists of suitable suppliers, maintains a library of product literature and advises on likely price trends and changes. His or her knowledge of local suppliers and current discounts is essential at the final review meeting when decisions need to be taken about the availability and future costs of materials and services.
The site manager will report on the technical and financial progress of their projects so that the estimator can learn from the company’s experience on site. The aim of this team is to gain an understanding of the technical, financial and contractual requirements of the scheme in order to produce a professional technical document with a realistic prediction of the cost of construction. The construction manager or director will use this net cost estimate to produce the lowest commercial bid at which the company or government institution is prepared to tender.