Estimating advice for small construction businesses

Put simply, estimation (or estimating) is a specialist skill that enables the estimator to determine:

  • how much a construction project will cost; drilling down into the costs associated with each contractor (labour and materials)
  • which contractors, suppliers, products and labour approaches will give the client the best value for money,
  • the size, areas and angles of properties, sites and construction plans to accurately account for all materials needed, estimate accurate labour requirements and calculate comprehensive project costs.

As a contractor, ensuring that your price has accounted for and incorporated everything that is needed (including building in contingency for what might be needed) is the most important step towards winning the job, retaining clients, earning recommendations and guaranteeing that you’re profitable on the job.

Estimation is a skill and doing it well is a lot harder than it might initially seem. Perhaps you’ve already learned this for yourself.

Most small-medium sized contractors will not have a dedicated Estimator or Estimating team in house so this fundamental element of the tender process will often be outsourced or attempted by someone in-house who knows the job / industry well.

estimation in construction

Because it can be difficult to truly grasp the benefits of Estimating support and how it will fit with what you do and how you work currently, here is a real example of how AG Surveying supported one particular client with estimating.

How cost estimation in construction can be done

The client was a medium sized stone manufacturer based in Welham Green.

AG Surveying’s estimators spent time upfront with the client developing a schedule of rates and a process to help us efficiently calculate costs and sale prices. Once these foundations were in place, our estimators then developed a robust template to help automate the necessary pricing calculations.

AG Surveying could then develop a bespoke system and process for gathering the client’s pricing information and generating accurate quotes for tenders without demanding valuable time from clients. The only unique information required is measurements for each specific project or job.

This system has meant that AG Surveying’s estimating team are able to return a high volume of tenders with very little client involvement, if any. This also means less time investment and associated estimation costs for the client.

Estimating techniques to suit your business

For some clients, AG Surveying’s estimators may only assist with some elements of tenders. For example, the team is often asked to produce a detailed, quantified pricing schedule that includes all works required to complete each project.

Estimators can be involved as much or as little of the tender process as you would like. 

Estimating and costing is essential

Your business depends on how accurately and professionally you price work. Whether you’re tendering for a large or small job your reputation is at stake.

Price well and you’ll be remembered for being competitive. You’ll be taken seriously.

Price unprofessionally and you could lose more than the project you tender for.


AG Surveying offers flexible and bespoke estimating services. We will work with you to develop a system and process that suits your structure. Get in touch with the team today to discuss your options.