As with most things in life, estimating and quantity surveying practices and processes evolve.

They can evolve as a result of regulatory change or they can adapt and evolve in line with the varying needs of different clients. Because no two businesses are the same.

Of course the fundamentals of estimating and quantity surveying will never change. An estimator will always focus on determining:

  1. what quantities of works are required
  2. how much each element of the quantified works will cost by understanding the businesses preferred procurement route, i.e. what works will be undertaken in-house and what element will be undertaken by specialist subcontractor
  3. for in-house works, understanding what materials need to be purchased and internal labour costs estimated using day rates and estimated work output
  4. for subcontracted works, who to go to to get best value prices and ensuring that subcontractors have included everything in their price in accordance with the detail of works.

But naturally, different methods of estimating will be better suited to different clients.

I’d like to share a few insights into how my estimating and quantity surveying consultancy, AG Surveying, manages the estimating process in a bid to support others in our industry.

Let me introduce you to our team of estimators based in Ware, Herts…

Estimating consultants

[Left to right; Anthony, Luis, Dan, Greg.]

How AG Surveying earns the title of Adaptable Estimator

At AG Surveying, we’ve developed our own internal estimating process that works really well for us and is regularly praised by our clients who inevitably benefit from the speed and accuracy of our estimation services.

Let me be clear – we’re not saying that our way will work for everyone. But our estimating process is transparent and efficient, and we use robust estimating process and basic technology that is freely available to all.


Once our client – the subcontractor or main contractor – sends us the scope of works and all details of the enquiry that they’ve received from the developer or project owner, we refer to our bespoke and thorough estimating checklist to ensure we’ve got all the information we need.

We review…

Our estimators will check that all documentation matches and spend some time reviewing the scope of works and getting a feel for the job and what it will involve.

Contacting our client…

We’ll then work with our client to identify which trades will be required and whether our client would like a proportion of the works to be undertaken by specialist subcontractors with other works to be undertaken in-house.

AG Surveying will then send the client a request for contact information for each trade for each package if working from a preferred contractor list.

What makes us different…is that we always ask upfront whether our client would like us to source and supplement their supply chain with our own contractor lists. The obvious benefit to doing this at an early stage is that we can manage subcontractor applications / enquiries early on and guarantee no delays to the programme.

Introducing the tracker…

The tracker we use is not the most advanced system you’ll find but do you know what… it really works for us and our clients.

Our tracker is populated to track the status of all enquiries to contractors – that includes replies, contact details, prices and any comments on the status of each enquiry.

We then closely manage each subcontractor enquiry in the following way:

  1. Our project estimator will call each supplier on the list to see if they are: a) interested in tendering for the works, and b) can work with the project time frames.
  2. If interested, the estimator will send an enquiry email to the contractors.
  3. We’ll then call again to make sure that the contractor has received the enquiry and reiterate the deadline for responses.
  4. From the list of interested and uninterested suppliers, our estimator will identify any trade packages where the minimum number of quotes may not be met. For example, some parts of the job may demand we return 3 prices per package. In this instance, we could source alternative subcontractors from our own supply chain database.
  5. The estimator will phone again towards mid / end of the enquiry period to ensure that each contractor is confident that they’ll return their price on time and that they have fully understood the enquiry.

What makes us different…is using a tracking tool and a basic traffic light system to highlight exactly where we are with each enquiry; enabling us to easily determine if we will need to contact other subcontractors well ahead of deadlines.

A second review…

Once all subcontractor prices have been returned to us and communications with subcontractors finalised to ensure that their price is fully comprehensive with no scope gaps between each package, we then populate of the pricing document.

Our estimators will add in prices for labour, waste and materials, and all in-house works, keeping clear track of the budget for each subcontractor package, along with internal labour, plant, waste and material prices.

Finalising the tender…

Providing it is preferable to our clients, depending on the size and nature of the project, we often adjudicate and finalise the tender with them once it is prepared so that the client can have input into any risk allowances.

We always ensure that our client fully understands the opportunities and risks presented by their project so that they can make an informed decision on how much Overhead and Profit to add on to their tender, and what prelim allowances need to be made along with verifying labour costs for things like management and any in-house work.

It’s good to be different

How an estimator goes about managing the estimating process will vary from person to person and from business to business. Good estimators will evolve their practice over time to improve efficiencies and meet the ever changing needs of the client.

AG Surveying makes a conscious effort to adapt processes in line with each of our clients’ needs. Whether we’re managing the full estimating process end to end or are just helping out with certain aspects of your tender process, we’ll make it work.

Do you conduct your own estimating in house? What processes and procedures do you use and can you identify any room for improvement?

If you’d like to discuss our estimating services get in touch with the team today.