The role of the construction estimator has changed dramatically over the years, particularly for those employed by general contractors (GCs) or construction managers (CMs). It used to be that the estimator’s primary responsibility was to perform a complete quantity “take-off” and price the entire project before accepting subcontractor and vendor bids. Now, particularly for many GCs and CMs, estimators are expected to do much more. Expectations now include “filling in the blanks;” defining scopes of work; assessing alternative materials, systems or methods; and managing the intent of the design team and desires of the owner.
Preconstruction serves the role of document review and as advisor for constructability and cost/value analysis. Constructability reviews can serve multiple purposes, but the most common are evaluating how constructible the design is (how easily it can actually be built without incurring unnecessary cost or schedule premiums) and how complete and coordinated the documents are. The first review is aimed at cost savings and time savings by ensuring that considerations such as site logistics, access, staging, materials and systems are considered in the design. Many projects are initiated while design drawings are still being completed.
Later reviews are aimed at answering two key questions pertinent to any owner or design team member. Are the documents sufficiently clear and complete to both complete the project for the cost proposed and within the time restraints of the Owner. These reviews should be accomplished by continuing interdisciplinary reviews of progress sets of documents and consideration of the suggested alternate means and methods by the Estimator in an attempt to identify conflicts or ambiguity on the plans prior to design completion and before they become issues in the field.