Employers place a strong emphasis on essential skills in the workplace. Essential skills are used in nearly every occupation, and are seen as 'building blocks' because people build on them to learn all other skills.
Each profile contains a list of example tasks that illustrate how each of the 9 essential skill is generally performed by the majority of workers in an occupation. The estimated complexity levels for each task, between 1 (basic) and 5 (advanced), may vary based on the requirements of the workplace.
Construction estimators analyze costs of and prepare estimates on civil engineering, architectural, structural, electrical and mechanical construction projects. They are employed by residential, commercial and industrial construction companies and major electrical, mechanical and trade contractors, or they may be self-employed.
- Face clients who are upset because of inconveniences during construction such as the lack of an access road to sites. They take corrective action by building temporary driveways to enable the clients to reach the sites during construction. (1)
- Encounter cost overruns or project delays due to weather, slower progress then expected, contractors not being available when required, and materials and equipment not arriving as scheduled. For example, they discover that critical materials are on back order from the manufacturer. They identify alternative material and speak with clients to obtain approval. When possible they speak to the clients to explain the unforeseen situation and to try to reach shared cost compromises. (2)
- May encounter unexpected physical obstructions or problems during construction. For example, they may find that roadway construction designs will result in the uneven seaming of connecting roads. They speak with project managers and technical experts to determine alternative constructive methods that will remain within budget. They obtain approval from clients to continue. (2)
- May experience faulty work completed by contractors. For example, they discover incomplete installations of safety straps around inground gas tanks. They identify the deficiencies and have the contractors redo the jobs. They adjust work schedules to accommodate resulting delays. (3)
- Face owners and general contractors exerting pressure to resume work before receiving engineering approval. They emphasize the legal and cost implications of proceeding prematurely. (3)
- May experience increases in service calls. They investigate the calls to determine causal factors such as equipment or components breakage, worker carelessness and faulty equipment. They make recommendations for corrective action such as replacing components, changing component brands and providing training to servicing staff. (3)
- Decide which contractors and suppliers to use. They adapt and use standard evaluation criteria and price points when awarding contracts and accepting supplier's terms. Legal implications make decisions difficult to reverse. (2)
- Make product-purchasing decisions. Their decisions have a large impact on profit margins. For example, they decide to purchase generic brands rather then name brands to increase profit margins. They decide to purchase products that are more expensive but have lower malfunction rates over time. (2)
- Decide to bid on projects. In addition to set decision procedures they consider the amount of work they have confirmed, project timeframes, costs, equipment and human resources availability, and their chances of winning the contract. Decisions usually can not be reversed due to bidding deadlines and binding contracts. Deciding which estimate requests to respond to is an important business skill. (3)
- Decide how to deal with contractors who fail to show up for jobs or do not complete work to specifications. They may withhold payment until completion of work or reduce payments to offset work delay costs. They consider past relationships with the contractors and the cost implications to the project when making their decisions. Binding contracts can limit how they deal these situations, and their decisions must be geared towards motivating the contractor to meet their contractual obligations with minimal impact on overall project timelines and costs. (3)
Job Task Planning and Organizing
Own Job Planning and Organizing
- Evaluate the feasibility of completing projects within clients' proposed budgets and timeframes. They consider timelines, season, equipment and human resources availability, complexity of project, including unknown factors. (2)
- Regularly evaluate the quality of construction materials and equipment by studying specifications, speaking with colleagues about their experiences, reading user reviews on supplier websites, and monitoring malfunctions and breakages. (2)
- Evaluate the quality of quotes using standard procedures. For example, they review costing procedures used and compare prices and work details with specifications to ensure accuracy and overall consistency. In addition, they use their knowledge and expertise to interpret and assess more subtle information not implicit in the bid and make suggestions or modifications that will enhance the quality of the bid and their chances of winning. (3)
Construction estimators organize their tasks to complete research, estimate project bids and manage project contracts for their employer or client organizations. They usually work on multiple projects, which can vary in length from one day to two years depending on the size and scope. Job tasks and priorities are project driven, but they decide the priority of tasks. They plan their daily, weekly and long term schedules to fit in activities, which may include: meetings, site visits, quote estimations, presentations, project management and quality control and productivity analysis. Their daily activities can vary widely from day-to-day. They work in fast paced environments in which they must be able to determine which projects and issues take priority. They must always be willing to reorganize their work schedule to deal with problems and situations as they arise to ensure projects stay on schedule. They interact with supervisors, contractors, colleagues and clients often in a coordinative role to integrate their tasks with others.
Planning and Organizing for Others
Construction estimators are often involved in operational and strategic planning by virtue of their job. Based on their understanding of an organization, they identify and complete estimates for a wide range of construction projects. They may plan and monitor project budgets and schedules depending on their level of experience. They coordinate the overall project work plan and provide operational and quality control recommendations and directives. They identify and establish staffing and contractor requirements. They may coordinate activities and tasks to complete projects. Senior estimators are responsible for assigning and monitoring the work of junior estimators.
Significant Use of Memory
- Remember codes and prices of materials to speed up pricing.
- Remember installation procedures for parts and components.
- Remember frequently used part numbers and phone numbers of contact persons.
- Remember technical terminology or acronyms specific to different trades to correctly interpret information in documents.
- Remember building layouts when completing job estimates.
- Remember content experts and contractors to know who to call for different problems or when hiring for different tasks.
- Locate pricing information for construction materials by searching internal and online supplier databases. (1)
- Identify and consult with content experts and co-workers to get their opinions on pricing and estimating details. (2)
- Locate technical information from past projects, professional publications, co-workers, supervisors and colleagues to evaluate specific products, procedures and contractors before deciding what to buy, who to hire and what to quote. (2)
- Draw on information from drawings, reports, timesheets and repair and replacement reports to monitor and improve project efficiencies and productivity. (3)
- Locate estimating information from bid specifications, codebooks, drawings, technical reports, costing and material databases and manuals. They use technical expertise to integrate the information to complete costing estimates. (3)
Other Essential Skills:
Working with Others
Construction estimators may work as team leaders when coordinating estimation activities and constructions projects, and work independently when preparing quotes and job proposals. Others may spend most of their time working independently providing quantity and project estimates to companies. When preparing quotes, proposals and reports they work independently on specific activities such as touring job sites, reviewing drawings, calculating costs and writing. They coordinate tasks and activities with contractors and general contractors. When working as team members they integrate and coordinate tasks, schedules and resources to conduct multiple projects simultaneously. (3)
Construction Estimators learn daily as part of their job. They are not required to have estimating licences but may be required to maintain specific certificates such as Technical Standards Safety and Authority certificates, and workplace hazardous materials information system certificates. They learn through their day-to-day work, consulting with colleagues, and referencing professional and trade newsletters, and publications. They attend construction, estimating and quantity surveying seminars and courses offered by community colleges, provincial and national associations to continually build their knowledge base. They are responsible for staying current on construction products, practices and code changes. In larger organizations, supervisors may authorize courses as part of estimators learning plans. They speak to and build networks with content experts, suppliers and colleagues. (3)