The first thing almost every owner asks is “How Much?” It doesn’t matter if you have a fully designed set of construction documents, or an idea that was sketched on a napkin. The “How Much” question invariably falls to an estimator. By working with an estimator you trust you can begin to move your design forward.
Start with the end in mind. Make sure you try to think of the full program of cost while constructing a budget. An owner should go over the information provided to make sure the budget includes everything for the project.
Manage expectations. Owners need to understand the difference between a Budget, Estimate, and a Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP). A budget is a preliminary look at the project based on information available, which is often incomplete or not fully known. An estimate is formulated once the plans and specifications are further along. Building type, location, scope of mechanical, electric, plumbing, and fire protection systems, site challenges may all be more in focus when an estimate is created. Once the plans are fully formed, issued, reviewed, and bids for the different areas of work are submitted a GMP is formulated. This is what the project will cost if there are no changes to the scope of the work.
The devil is in the details. When putting together a budget or an estimate, the estimator can only provide information based on the information provided. If there are any gaps or vagueness in the information an owner needs to be ready to discuss details of what they see for their facility.
Have honest discussions. Think of the overall project cost, not just what the construction manager/general contractor will handle. Budget pitfalls often include items that an owner might have thought were included. Examples include furniture purchasing, real estate costs, legal, and potentially storage facilities if the project involves remodeling. It may not be necessary to include this in the construction costs, but make sure to have an open discussion with your contractor to ensure that these costs are being covered somewhere.
Ellis’ estimators have years of experience and hundreds of subcontractors and suppliers to call on for a project. This network of subcontractors and suppliers provides the owner the best pricing and the latest techniques for the work. Our experience means a more accurate estimate and budget so there are no surprises.
Erik Carlson, Executive Vice President, has experience in all aspects of construction – from working in the field “swinging a hammer” to estimating and project management.