A Construction Estimator in the USA also known as a Quantity Surveyor in the UK can work for a wide variety of companies and organizations in different types of industries. The role of a Building estimator is planning, calculating and managing the construction costs of a project. Professional Construction Estimators get their educational qualifications from colleges and universities around the world. Their practical training and experience is obtained from internships and employment with a diverse range of companies.
A company that an Estimator works for does not necessarily need to be a construction firm or building contractor. A recently graduated job seeker can work for a consulting firm that specializes in construction estimation for clients. This type of consultancy firm is known as a Quantity Surveying firm in the UK, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. There are local professional bodies in your country that you have to join and pass their exams if you want to practice as a Professional Quantity Surveyor or Estimator. In the USA, you have to pass exams by the American Society of Professional Estimators(ASPE)if you want to be a certified professional estimator.
If you live in the UK ( or British Commonwealth country) and aspiring to be an internationally recognized professional QS ,you can take your resume to further heights by writing the exams for an international body like theRoyal Institute of Chartered Quantity Surveyors(RICS).
As you will realize as you browse the list below, the options of employment for a Construction Estimator are very wide. While the usual employment channel for a traditional estimator is working for a building contractor or government, the modern estimator can work for hundreds of unlikely organizations and firms:
Building contractors employ Estimators to handle the bidding process, prepare bid documents, price bills and manage the project costs throughout the contract period. An Estimator handles claims and disputes arising between the parties. He or she is responsible for monitoring work in progress, measuring work and materials on site and requesting payment when valuations are done. A professional estimator will help the construction company to be successful in securing tenders through accurate pricing. A contractor’s estimator works in liaison with the client’s estimator, making agreements, addendums and query lists.
Construction Estimation Consultancy / Quantity Surveying Firm
A Construction Cost Estimator who works for a Quantity Surveying consultancy represents the client who is the project financier or owner. Project financiers can be individuals who intend to build a residential house or organizations involved in property development. They can be government or local authorities with plans to build public infrastructure. The role of a Cost Estimator is to represent the client’s interests with regards to cost and budget. The Estimator strives to keep the building costs at a minimum as much as possible through interacting with the Architect who advises on the right design and materials for a specific budget.
Government Department of Public Works, Housing and Transport
Governments have Quantity Surveyors in their employ to run the department of public works, housing and transport. Names might be different according to your state or location but this is an essential department that builds public infrastructure such as low-cost mass housing for taxpayers, roads, airports, railways, civil engineering works, government facilities and buildings. A Quantity Surveyor employed by the government is responsible for project cost planning, budgeting, issuing and advertising tenders (construction bids), managing the bid process and selection of contractors. He or she will check the progress on site and authorize payment when a construction phase is satisfactorily completed. In most cases, the Government Estimator’s responsibilities will not go beyond the pre-contract stage, since third party estimating firms are contracted by the government to provide construction cost management, onsite valuations and final account processing.
Military Construction Division
The Military employs Construction Estimators to quantify and price the cost of building military facilities and bases. They also prepare cost estimates and get quotes for repairs, renovations and maintenance services. Soldiers with tertiary qualifications in professional estimating are preferred for this role and are quickly promoted to a higher rank.
Police Construction Division
Just like the Military, the Police have a department of civil engineering and construction which deals with cost estimation and pricing of new housing facilities, drainage works, refurbishments, repairs and maintenance. A certified construction estimator would be the most suitable person to run this department, and he or she would be fast-tracked to a higher rank if they have police training.
Private Property Developers
Property Developers or Property Development Corporations are responsible for the construction of shopping malls, apartments, office blocks, residential homes, commerce parks, amusement parks and many other facilities. They build these facilities for the purpose of renting and getting a positive return on their investment. Since a lot of capital running into millions and even billions of dollars is invested in building these facilities, the services of a professional construction estimator are needed to make sure that an accurate project cost estimation is made. On big projects, certified cost estimators with lots of experience are engaged to work in teams on each part of the construction phase.
Estimating teams will work on different sections of the plan like the basement, ablution block, offices, canteen, multi-level s of a storey building, parking etc.The estimators can also divide themselves into teams for measuring one trade, for example Excavations, Masonry, Concrete and Formwork, etc.
Banks and Lending Organizations
A lot of banks and lending institutions are involved in property development, which is an asset building strategy for directors and shareholders. These banks will recruit an in-house construction estimator to be a part of the company’s property development division. They may have subsidiary companies which specialize in property development and maintenance. If you look around town in your location, a lot of shopping malls and office parks are owned by banks.
Insurance, Pension Fund and Trust Companies
Just like banks, insurance corporations, pension fund and trust companies have a lot of liquid capital at their disposal which they use to develop properties around the country. This capital is invested in building apartments, industrial parks, hotels, holiday resorts and real estate. The insurance and pension fund industries have departments dedicated to developing, renovating and maintaining company property. A construction cost estimator or quantity surveyor will find a job with these organizations creating cost estimates for proposed projects.
Asset Management Companies
Asset Managers look after their clients’ property with a view of increasing or maintaining their value. They make sure that the client’s assets are being managed properly and efficiently without incurring huge costs. Asset management may thus include cost management of existing property as well as proposed properties to be built in the nearby future according to the development plans of the client. An experienced building cost estimator will help the asset manager to maintain the client’s budget as well as manage the construction costs.
Construction estimators are valuable in the mining industry, since they are required to compile a cost estimation of setting up the mine infrastructure. This includes preliminaries such as housing, water and electricity supply for mine workers, cost of excavations, engineers living quarters, supply and delivery of machinery and building materials. The building estimator will get quotes for repairs, refurbishments and setting up new structures.
Steel Fabrication Industries
The steel manufacturing factory employs construction cost estimators to measure and take off quantities of steel from drawings created by the draughtsman. The right amount of steel has to be estimated in order to avoid costs from wastage. When a new manufacturing project is submitted by a buyer, the cost is unknown. It is the duty of an estimator to calculate the project cost before the work commences, so that the buyer can have an idea of the required budget.
Design and Build Contractors
These are building contractors with in-house architects and draughtsmen.They also employ estimators to do a cost estimation of the proposed home building plans. It is a good idea to hire a company that provides design, estimating and construction under one roof because it allows the client to save money and cut the costs of hiring third party consultants.
Building Materials Suppliers
Building contractors and project owners purchase construction materials directly from the suppliers. Building materials suppliers differ in size and scale. Major suppliers have big warehouses where they stock all kinds of materials and tools needed by a building contractor. The most common query asked by a new project owner is the cost of building a house or home. They want to know the cost and quantity of materials required for the project. Most materials suppliers have cost estimators in their departments who deal with such queries. They will ask for a house plan, which they use to take off quantities and price the items to get an estimated quote for the contract sum. Some estimators will ask for a blank Bill of Quantities, so that they can enter their prices.
Home Design, Remodeling, Refurbishments and Renovations Specialists
There are a lot of home design and remodeling specialists who employ construction cost estimators and quantity surveyors. The estimator is usually required to come up with cost estimates for pre-designed specifications and custom plans. He or she will be required to study the drawings and design sketches. It might be necessary to visit the client’s home to take measurements and photos.
Institutes of Construction Cost Research and Statistics
Construction price statistics (also known as the Construction Index) are very important to the building industry. They keep project developers informed about the current cost of building a specific structure in a certain location or region. A Quantity Surveyor who works for a building research institute compiles a database of annual construction costs in a specific town, city, state and region. The construction price index is updated on a month by month basis, allowing estimators to create an accurate cost estimate throughout the project. The price index can be a basis for a contractor to file claims for increases in the cost of materials (inflation).
Engineering Firms and Consultancies
Various types of engineering consulting firms specializing in the design of civil, mechanical, timber, steel, masonry and concrete structures employ construction estimators to work out a cost estimate for proposed works.
Manufacturers of mechanical systems and structures such as machined parts, automotive parts, mouldings, metal castings, wood framings, foam products, structural fittings and frames require the services of a cost estimator to quantify the cost of a mechanical project. The estimator needs to be able to interpret mechanical engineering drawings and take off quantities as needed.
Telecommunication companies invest in the installation of cables and signal broadcasting towers. The setting up of telecoms infrastructure involves a lot of construction work and engineering expertise. Permanent construction estimating technicians are therefore essential in this industry.
Project Management and Claims Consultancy
Consulting firms like Hill International provide project management services to property developers and clients who intend to build a facility such as an uptown home, hospital, hotels and so on. The consulting firm will take over the project from the pre-contract stage to the actual construction. Estimators are one of the professionals employed in this consultancy.
Real Estate Development and Property Management Firms
Real estate developers and property management organizations need the services of a Project Estimator to create budget proposals for future construction developments and funding purposes.
Landscaping & Architecture
An estimator working for a Landscape design and construction firm is responsible for administering the contract and estimating the construction cost of a design. The landscape estimator works in association with the landscape architect. He or she is responsible for monitoring the project cost, tracks progress and prepares payment schedules.
Energy Suppliers – Oil, Gas and Electricity
Energy companies employ Quantity Surveyors to deal with contractors and subcontractors in a working arrangement with the firm. The estimating technician will be responsible for preparing pricing schedules, contract administration and valuation of work in progress.