Coming up with a professional construction estimate or quote involves two main factors: the cost of the project's raw materials and the cost of labor. When writing a construction estimate, go into as much detail as possible regarding the anticipated costs related to the project. You'll also want to factor in other elements, such as a timeline for the project's completion.
Survey the property where the construction project will take place. Speak with the property owner regarding exactly what the project will entail. Also ask if the property owner wants a specific kind of material used on the project (for example, the property owner might want a driveway done in flagstone instead of paved concrete).
Take careful measurements of the project.
Research the cost of the raw materials--also called your "hard costs" at home improvement and construction supply stores. Also look into the cost of purchasing the materials directly from the manufacturer. Note this amount.
Calculate what the website "Home Building Answers" calls your "soft costs"--the time and labor required to complete the project. This is the area where you'll have the most wiggle room. You can choose to charge for labor by the hour, or set a flat fee for the project. The total amount of labor costs will vary based on the difficulty of the project, the level of skill involved in completing it and the location of the project (for example, labor usually costs more in California than in Arkansas).
Choose a layout for your construction estimate. You can use pre-made templates offered by a variety of online companies, or you can create your own document in a program like Microsoft Word.
Type your name (or your company's name) and contact information at the very top of the estimate. You want your potential customer to be able to contact you.
List the anticipated costs for the project. Put all the "hard costs" into one section, and all the "soft costs" into another. Go a step further by including alternatives (for example, a less-expensive material), so the property owner can easily compare the costs.
Add the hard and soft costs together to come up with a final estimate. You may choose to place this number at the very top of the estimate so the potential customer can more easily locate it.
Write down the projected timeline of the project.
Factor in any contingencies. For example, how will the cost of labor change if the project takes longer than anticipated? Spelling these intangibles out in advance will give you and the property owner an idea of what to expect in a "worse case scenario."
Leave a space for you and the property owner to sign the estimate. Once the estimate it signed, it is a contract--and work on the project can begin.
Some property owners may choose to purchase all the raw materials--those "hard costs"--themselves. In this case, that would leave you to draw up an estimate based only on the "soft cost" of labor.
To increase the visual appeal of your estimate, you may choose to add a logo to the paperwork.
Be true to your estimate. You may choose to overestimate on "hard costs" in order to make sure you don't go over your estimated budget. Most homeowners would rather have a high estimate come in under budget than a low estimate come in above budget.
Elizabeth Falwell has been writing for the TV news industry since 2005. Her work has appeared on WXII 12 News, WMGT 41 News, NewParent.com and multiple parenting blogs. A graduate of the S.I. Newhouse School at Syracuse University, Falwell holds a Master of Science in broadcast journalism.