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What is Estimation in Civil Engineering?

by Kumar Abhishek Anand on March 10, 2022

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Estimation in civil engineering is the process of determining the number of materials, resources, and money needed to operate during a construction project. This is usually done before the start of the project, so you can procure estimated materials and gather the funds as the project progresses. It's pretty close to the actual cost of your project requirement.

Depending on the accuracy of the estimation method used and the correct list of operations performed, the estimates will approach the actual values. The estimated value should not be far from the actual project cost. This is because it can lead to a disadvantage for the client or expert. If the project is undervalued, the client will always be shocked if the budget exceeds the estimate, and if it is overvalued, the estimator will repel when the company loses bids and even jobs. You may face it.

Cost estimation in civil engineering is one of the most important aspects of construction management, so great care should be taken when calculating costs. Future quote engineers need to show their skills. It may seem like a trivial task, but it requires careful analysis, proper procedures, and the most appropriate method.

Why is Estimation in Civil Engineering important?

Without estimation in civil engineering, it is impossible to complete a construction project at actual operating costs. The client or project manager cannot keep the project cost within reasonable limits unless the project cost has already been estimated.

Each owner can decide whether or not to proceed with the proposed project based on the estimated cost of the project. Depending on the funds available and the value of the product, the client can proceed with the project or carefully consider the details of the quote and then abandon the project.

Most construction project bids are open to the public by government agencies, so you need to make reasonable estimates to secure your bids. If the cost of the project exceeds the bid (or contract amount), not only will the contract be paid at your own expense, but legal action may be taken if you abandon the project. For this reason, the quote should be performed by a knowledgeable and experienced estimator, along with the required resource methods.

If we try to explain why estimation is important in a few points, we can classify them into four points, that is:

01 - To Estimate Materials

First and foremost, materials need to be estimated because they take up a major chunk of the estimated project cost. The list of materials along with their quantities need to be estimated so that proper arrangements can be made to procure them before the work begins.

02 - To Estimate Labour

The total cost of labour needs to be estimated properly so that the required number of workers can be hired to complete the project on time. The estimated labour count should include all different types of labour such as skilled and unskilled workers whose service will be required throughout the project duration.

03 - To Estimate Equipment

The type and number of equipment required for project operations should be estimated so that they can be booked in advance. In case, a plant needs to be set up for quick fabricating and use of project site elements, the cost related to the plant requirements should also be estimated in detail.

04 - To Estimate Time

One of the most crucial variables that need to be estimated is the project time without which intermediary project goals cannot be defined appropriately. Past project experiences can be considered to estimate the project time more accurately.

Types of Estimate

To estimate the total cost of a construction project, three main types of estimation need to be used that are:

01 - Preliminary Estimate

Preliminary estimates, also known as rough estimates or rough estimates, provide a rough idea of ​​the cost of a project. This is not a final project estimate as it only provides a simple and rough idea of ​​the cost of the project.

Preliminary estimates are usually made before the project begins if there is insufficient information available to calculate the cost of the project. This type of estimate, also commonly referred to as a screening estimate, involves input from similar projects performed in the past.

Preliminary estimates are usually prepared by home service companies to calculate the budget for construction projects that clients have to pay.

02 - Detailed Estimate

After receiving detailed information about the project variables, you can convert the preliminary estimate to a detailed estimate. You can get a detailed estimate for a construction project from scratch, but you need enough information and better project scope to include all the important details from your client.

As the name implies, detailed estimates contain very detailed data about project variables such as cost, quantity, and price. A list of each item, including the quantity required to complete the project, should be included in the detailed estimate. This will give you a better estimate of the cost, which is fairly close to the actual cost of the project.

The detailed estimate should include information about the rates used to calculate the cost, the specifications according to the project requirements, and the structural diagram of the project area for reference.

Most contractors use a detailed estimate as a budget estimate because it contains costs related to all the minor project details needed for the smooth execution and completion of the project. The contractor can check if they have the funds or if they need funding.

03 - Quantity Estimate

As you can guess from the name of this quote, the quantity estimate contains a list of all the quantities of materials needed to complete the project during its period and is the most commonly used type of estimate in the construction industry. The main purpose of creating a quantity estimate is to provide the client with a list of all the various materials required for the project and the costs associated with each quantity of the material.

The cost of the amount of material is calculated by multiplying the dimensions of the project structure (shown in the project drawing) by the rate of the specific material.

04 - Bid Estimate

Bid estimates are either submitted to the client to secure tender contracts or to secure the project. This bid estimate is based on the contractor's experience and the desire to win the project contract. He/she wants to offer better bids than its competitors and strives to offer the best value for money. If the contractor isn't serious about getting a particular project contract, he/she shouldn't invest a lot of effort and time that would certainly be wasted.

To create a bid quote, you must use a customer-provided plan or industry-standard cost method. Also, if the contractor wants to produce a more accurate bid quote, each project variable should be calculated carefully using the appropriate method.