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Approaches In Teaching Construction Estimating

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1998 Annual Conference


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 28, 1998

Start Date

June 28, 1998

End Date

July 1, 1998



Page Count


Page Numbers

3.108.1 - 3.108.7



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Paper Authors

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Richard K. Sase

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Julie H. Wei

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 1421

Approaches in Teaching “Construction Estimating” Julie H. Wei, Ph.D., P.E. and Richard K. Sase, P.E. California State Polytechnic University, Pomona/ Main San Gabriel Basin Watermaster

“Estimating” skill is a basic requirement in the construction industry. Typically contractors specialize in one of the following two types of projects: 1) buildings and 2) industrial facilities and heavy civil work. Building construction can generally be classified into residential and commercial projects, and heavy civil construction encompasses a wide range of very different projects involving very large operations. Contractors must be able to prepare estimates that are competitive enough to secure contracts yet allows reasonable profit upon successful completion of the projects. In reality, the success of both contractors and owners of major projects is dependent upon the construction estimating skills of key individuals within a company or an agency. Poorly prepared estimates can lead to distressful results such as financial insolvency and abandoned projects. Many construction graduates start their career as an estimator before moving on to become project engineer, project manager or owner of a construction company. At California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, students take two estimating courses in their junior year. The first course covers the general aspects of construction estimating fundamentals and practices and the technical details of building construction estimating. The second course focuses on estimating heavy civil construction projects. The following are some of the teaching approaches adopted in these courses.

ESTIMATING REQUIREMENTS Construction Estimating can generally be broken down into the following phases: 1) Determination of the appropriate construction approaches, 2) Planning, 3) Quantity Take-Off and 4) Pricing. All phases require a thorough understanding of drawings and specifications. A clear understanding in construction methods, equipment and productivity is also required to adopt a cost effective construction approach. Planning is required to ensure efficiency of the estimate process. Quantity Take-Off requires painstaking systematic exercises to determine quantities for all possible work for permanent as well as temporary facilities. Pricing requires a complete and reliable database for direct costs and indirect costs. When unit prices are not readily available, the estimator must be able to perform item analysis using historical data as well as theoretical models to derive unit prices. A good knowledge of general conditions and contract administration is also needed to properly estimate indirect costs. Additionally, understanding of the nature and process of competitive bidding will help in determining the most beneficial profit margin. In the world of competitive bidding, there are a number of not-so-obvious factors that could affect the way a bid is prepared. A sophisticated contractor can manipulate the unit prices on various bid items and achieve an advantage if the owner’s estimate has been poorly prepared. This situation can arise when the owner’s estimate of quantity for a particular bid item is too low


Sase, R. K., & Wei, J. H. (1998, June), Approaches In Teaching Construction Estimating Paper presented at 1998 Annual Conference, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/1-2--6925

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