Be very sareful of "Estimating Books" and "Estimating Programs". Most are authored by failed EC's or those who have never been an EC. A good source would be NECA estimating seminars. They are chaired by successful EC's and they share their expertise. Rowdy
I can't even hit the right keys to spell correctly anymore. I guess age and being tired from putting in 10-12 hours a day helping folks and the humane society are taking their toll. BTW, I am getting new kittens next week. My boys passed waway at 21 (1993) and 22 (1994). They were great cats. Rowdy
Wow, I really did not realize just how tired I was. My spelling and memory were shot. I lost my cat Grouch in 2003 and Iron Mike in 2004. Estimating from the "old school" has just about disappeared from the marketplace. The EC's who have old hands on the payroll that still do things manually are better versed on an estimate than any computer program could possibly provide. If you have a real interest in the mechanics of estimating, try to contact some oldtimers whether they are still active or retired. You can learn more from them in one day than spending months with all the books and videos that are on the market. Again, sorry for the misspelling and lapses of memory. Rowdy
There's no substitute for experience when it comes to estimating. We have a book that I made for our estimating (flat rate) that is based on my experience of how long it takes to do a job and the materials involved. If it's not in the book, then you just have to use your best judgement. When you look at a job that you don't know EXACTLY how long it takes your slowest crew to do, then you must add a nice buffer to your estimate. If you don't get the job, consider it a blessing, at a lower price you might have lost a nice chunk of change.
I use my 20 years of experience in estimating, but basically it goes as follows.
First, list all the materials and request a quote from a supplier. Then I break the work down into small pieces. I estimate the time it'll take to do each of these small jobs, then I add it all together.
If I'm hungry, I discount it. If I'm busy I add profit. I also keep track of past jobs, but with the rise in steel and copper, I'm doing everything from scratch again.
Lastly, I use an intuitive factor. If it's a little old lady from church, I could care less if I make any money. If it's an established customer who pays well the bid is low. If I get butterflies in my stomach thinking about this person or this job, I add a healthy profit, or pass on it. My worst times in business have been when I've been hungry, and ignored the intuitive factor. I've learned the hard way that you can never be hungry enough to get involved with a nightmare customer or a nightmare job.
I'm still getting the hang of estimating... hey, I've only been on the "management" side of my work for 2 years now I've got the Mike Holt book, and I understand the prinicples, but it's getting that "intuitive" part down that's difficult. I Excel'ed much of the mats and time factors, so that's not too hard.
Practice makes perfect... or profit, as the case may be.
[This message has been edited by DougW (edited 09-05-2004).]