How to Give an Estimate On Concrete Jobs

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There are three basic steps to estimating a concrete project: the estimate of how much material that you will be using, labor and pricing. There are 21 materials in your basic quantity outline. These include various footings, walls, grades, columns, beams, slabs, stairs, paving, curbs and gutters along with the various forms, concrete and finishes. Once you determine your takeoff, then you can recapitulate and price. Don't forget the miscellaneous items, waste and labor production rates. Overbid and you may lose the job; underbid,and you lose money. It's better to take time to be as precise in your estimates as possible.

Visit the location of the proposed work. Do not estimate by phone. Take time to measure accurately and talk about the project with the customer, if possible. Don't hand the customer a quick, makeshift bid without doing your homework. Tell him that you will have the bid in a few hours or the next day, or whatever time frame works for both of you.

Do your quantity takeoff. The takeoff means to check all items that will be needed to price the job — a checklist. This includes the concrete yardage, finishing, manual excavation materials and labor, sand fill and miscellaneous items. Don't forget any mesh or steel reinforcements.

Price your quantity takeoff. If you are not good at pricing, find someone who is. Qualified estimators should show the customer how each estimate was arrived at, how each unit price was calculated, and reasons for any changes in the estimate. Don't forget to calculate waste. Estimate pricing up, not down. Include at least 3 percent ground waste. Ground waste is waste material that is unneeded or cut away from the project outside of any forms. There should be little or no waste within your forms.

Calculate labor costs. Keep in mind that workers cannot keep at maximum effort for very long. Figure in rest time and lunches. If you are using a large work crew and not someone whose work ethic you are familiar with, it's better to figure an average rate of production per worker per square foot.


  • Estimate concisely and your customer will appreciate your attention to detail, garnering trust.



About the Author

Cheryl Hosmer teaches online courses in writing and community journalism. She has written for various newspapers since 1983. She teamed up with author Marshall Terrill in 2001 as an editor of celebrity biographies. Hosmer holds a Bachelor of Arts in interdisciplinary studies from Madonna University. Her educational emphasis was poverty studies and journalism.

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