Cost estimates fails, and how to avoid wrong cost estimates.

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Cost Planning, Civil Engineering

When does an estimate fails? 7 (Seven) simple steps to avoid wrong cost estimates.

October 3, 2022 Civil Bites 0 Comments


The practice of predicting the cost of constructing a physical structure is called construction cost estimating. Of course, cost overruns and project failures both have a negative financial impact on builders and clients. Because of this, they spend time and effort determining the cost of a project before deciding whether to proceed with it. Numerous cost estimates, including those created by contractors and those estimated by independent estimators, are frequently requested by clients when considering significant projects.
Cost estimates are used by project owners to establish the scope and viability of a project and to distribute funds. In the case of contractors, they use cost estimation when considering whether to submit a bid for a job. To make sure a project satisfies the standards for financial viability and scope, you typically generate estimates with the assistance of architects and engineers.
Cost estimation errors cause problems throughout the entire duration of a project. It can also put a project on hold completely, and that’s probably after spending a lot of time and money.

(Seven) simple steps to avoid wrong cost estimates

Cost Estimation: Mistakes

  • Missing Details on Costs During Estimation
    Many cost estimator services fail to provide an accurate estimate for the following reasons, among others:
    Overlooking less apparent expenses associated with particular circumstances Instead of focusing on a single place, labor expenses are based on the national average and inflation. Not using advanced technology, such as new machinery, to determine labor costs
  • Making Uninformed Suppositions
    Don’t take a chance with your bids by estimating using ill-informed or uneducated estimations. A fantastic way to make sure your estimates, and eventually your bids, are as precise as possible is to track task expenses on every project.
    The most recent information available should be used to determine job costs for personnel, supplies, and equipment. Be sure to account for soft expenditures that are sometimes overlooked or disregarded, such as overhead expenses and charges for permits and inspections.
    Additionally, you want to confirm that you have the necessary personnel and tools for the project. Your revenues could be swiftly depleted or lost entirely if you have to hire more workers or rent more tools without prior planning.
  • Not Going to The Project Site
    Failure to visit the project site is one of the most frequent (and expensive) errors in cost calculations. If something doesn’t come up in the assessment process early on, it might already be too late to turn things around. You should visit the job site and analyze it thoroughly. Try to do it in the early stages. In some circumstances, returning to the site more than once to be sure there have been no changes is preferable. This is crucial if your task requires phased preparation, such as when a building needs to be cleaned and dismantled before you can start. The actual site may differ from its documented description. This will not cost you anything if you get to know about this before the cost estimation. However, if you realize this after cost estimation, then it might be disastrous, which is a result that is quite simple to prevent.
  • Cost Information from Previous Similar Projects Is Compared
    It is customary to consider the costs involved in a former comparable project when establishing the project budget plan. Even if it is regarded as a simple and well-established strategy to estimate the project budget, please remember that it has drawbacks of its own. Utilizing various costing procedures for each project is a wonderful notion because, as you are aware, each project is distinct with different requirements. 
  • Failure to Identify and Prepare for Risks
    It is understandable that when it comes to construction projects or any other business projects, there are always some risks involved in them. You should incorporate a risk assessment into your estimation process. It is useful in decision-making regarding whether to make the bid or not. A professional estimator can spot a project that poses too much risk and decide against making a bid. It is also helpful in determining an accurate estimation for uncertain incidents.
    The inability to evaluate risks and include backup plans in your cost estimation will have a negative impact when things get out of order. It goes like this: the greater the risk is, the more time you need to invest in figuring out how to reduce it and how that can affect your costs. Once construction has started, certainly, you won’t be able to make up for the losses if something goes wrong.

Tips To Improve Cost Management

  • Work Break Down by Team Members
    Initially, conduct a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) exercise with your team. Identifying deliverables and, known Structure (WBS) exercise with your team. Identifying deliverables and, ultimately, project activities or tasks will help you break down the project. The comprehensive breakdown can significantly help your team minimize errors and perform an accurate cost estimation process.
  • Experts Should Prepare Cost Estimates
    It is not the responsibility of project managers to estimate the work. Instead, it is important to speak with the subject matter experts who will be performing the work.
  • Set Up a Reserve for Emergencies
    Projects are fraught with uncertainty. Uncertain events do, in fact, happen. As a result, our expenses rise. Smart project managers recognize risks, calculate their financial impact, and set aside money for unforeseen circumstances.
  • Make a Resource Plan
    Also, you may need to allocate some money for unforeseen events (risks).
  • Implement Change Management
    If you add, change, or eliminate project activities without adjusting the budget, you are setting yourself up for disaster. Use a change control process to ensure your projects are delivered on time and within budget.
  • In addition, periodically compare your actual and projected expenses. Having made a budget is good, but you need to constantly check your expenses against the budget standard. Work with your team to develop additional ways to take advantage of purchase discounts and strategies to lower costs if expenses start to rise faster than you had anticipated.
  • Recognize The Unexpected
    Each of us has participated in a construction project that was derailed by events beyond our control. Unfavorable weather, unexpected increases in material costs, or logistical issues can all cause a once-profitable job to become unprofitable. Consider the unique circumstances surrounding the job and the greatest dangers involved.
  • Saving Time
    Adopting estimating software is the simplest approach to reducing time spent on estimates while maintaining or increasing accuracy. Creating a precise estimate takes significantly less time now that we have access to digital price libraries, templates, and data from previous projects.
  • Utilize Current Library Prices
    For rough estimates, outdated pricing data could be acceptable, but if you want to increase estimate accuracy, always attempt to use the most recent cost data. Check that you are utilizing the most current pricing library. With software, you can track when the pricing library was last updated.
  • Verify The Data and Avoid Manipulating the Numbers
    If you give estimation software high-quality data, it will only produce accurate estimations. The final number the software provides you won’t be accurate if you use shortcuts. Avoid the impulse to change specific costs or dimensions to get the result you want.

Final Thoughts

Accurate cost estimation is essential at the start of any building project. This will make it easier to control the project’s scope up front and provide clients with a chance to specify their financial needs. Great projects require an accurate estimate, so accuracy is crucial.
However, sometimes teams fail to provide accurate cost estimates due to some erroneous actions. We have highlighted a few of the common mistakes and given you some useful tips on improving your cost estimation procedure. Incorporate these tips into your cost estimation process and enjoy the fruitful results of your construction projects.

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