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Estimating mistakes are made during the takeoff process.  An incomplete estimate and incorrect estimate are not the same.  An incomplete estimate has omissions.  An incorrect estimate maybe complete, but it could be based on an incorrect labor column and incorrect labor mix.

The estimator should strive to avoid large mistakes. Several small mistakes can have an impact on an estimate.

Estimating and bidding are two distinct functions of the estimator.  When the estimator tries to do both functions at the same time, mistakes are inevitable.  Estimating is quantifying and is handled during the takeoff process.  Bidding is the summarization of the estimate.

The wise estimator will complete all his takeoffs and check them for mistakes.

Once the estimator is confident the takeoff is complete and accurately priced and labored, it is time to focus on bidding the project.

The following are common estimating mistakes: 

  1. Missed takeoffs on the drawings
  2. Failure to highlight items as they are taken off
  3. Missing documents
  4. Reduced drawings
  5. Duplication of items
  6. Failure to visit the site
  7. Failure to understand the buildings construction
  8. Failure to get your material counts early to suppliers.
  9. Using branch wiring averages
  10.  Using square foot pricing
  11.  Failure to set material and labor units the same – E, C, or M.
  12.  Rushed takeoffs
  13.  Delegating part of the estimate to another
  14.  Assuming
  15.  Disorganized
  16.  Office and co-worker interruptions
  17.  Incorrect material prices
  18.  Failing to ask questions
  19.  Scope of work omissions
  20.  Measurement errors
  21.  Incorrect scales used in takeoff
  22.  Application of incorrect labor column
  23.  Last minute changes
  24.  Misunderstood project duration
  25.  Padding too much for the “What If’s”
  26.  Failure to use a checklist

Helps to prevent estimating mistakes:

  1. Avoid interruptions.
  2. Start the estimate early
  3. Estimate systematically
  4. Use an estimating sequence
  5. Quantify first, then think about bidding
  6. Have benchmarks to check individual systems
  7. Only have one project on your table at a time
  8. Use a checklist

Remember, estimating is expensive, poor estimating is costly, but quality estimating is profitable.