Estimating top tips

by | Nov 27, 2022 | 0 comments

Builders estimating tips

As its name suggests an estimate is exactly that, an estimate of costs to carry out a building project with the available information. Information and experience are the key to achieving an accurate estimate. One thing that we find is that domestic builders have no shortage of experience, but one thing they certainly lack is time!

With all the other responsibilities of running a construction company such as on-site work; invoicing, organising sub-contractors, managing staff and all the other headaches that go with being a business owner time always seems to be tight

Below we are our top tips for busy builders to prepare their estimates.

Site Visit

This is the most important tip, we get it, you’re busy on the tools and the information sent through looks good, so you’re thinking “I can definitely just price this from the drawings” STOP there! A site visit can throw up so much relevant information, such as access, obstructions to the site, available storage for materials, suitable plant equipment required, existing services such as drainage, electric gas, and water as well as the existing construction materials.

This is also your opportunity to meet the clients, and for them to meet you because as you know a building project can be quite an intense undertaking from both parties so it’s good to meet up and get a feeling for each other.

Material prices

Over the last 2 years the increase in materials has been crazy! According to this article from, 2022 has seen an average material increase of 24%, So it’s important to keep on top of the current prices from your suppliers. With such volatility in the marketplace its wise to send a copy of the drawings to your preferred supplier and get them to send you up to date costs for all the general materials required.

We would also recommend reducing the time that you hold your estimate cost and including a disclaimer covering material costs to your client.

If you are using sub-contractors within the project then we would suggest sending the drawings and specifications to your subcontractors, not only does this provide accurate costs for their works, but it also reduces your workload!

We would just advise checking in with them before the return date to ensure they are pricing.

The Devil is in the detail!

We know some builders don’t like providing a breakdown, and we get that it can take longer to do, but a detailed estimate not only impresses your client and gives them confidence in you, it also provides clarity for both parties as to exactly what is included in your estimate, and what isn’t!

Details are another reason why we are not a fan of M2 rates or “average” costs for projects, there can be so many variations that these really can not be used for anything other than a very rough guide!

It is also important to ensure your client has all of their details in place, such as planning permissions, party wall agreements, listed statuses, as without these in place any delays on-site can be costly, there is a lot of useful information on the Planning Portal that you can guide your clients to, to ensure they have everything in place.


We know that you may not like sitting in front of a computer following a long day on-site, but even learning some basics on something like Excel can help save you a lot of time when estimating projects, its also ideal for creating material lists that you can keep updated as prices change.


Don’t forget to add in all those little extras that you generally need on a project, from tool hire to scaffolding, skips, welfare facilities, insurance costs, vehicles, and admin overheads, all these costs mount up.

Again, putting these into a spreadsheet can be a good exercise to ensure you are covering all of these items when estimating your projects.

And finally, if you’re still struggling to find time to estimate your domestic building projects then hiring an external freelance estimator could be for you, if you want to know how we work with builders then please take a look at our website, with cost starting from £99.00 we often work out more cost effective than you taking time away from site, and you can get some free time back to spend with loved ones or on the golf course!

Please contact us on the following

Telephone: 07977 493 321

Email: [email protected]


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Call: 07977 493 321 | Email: [email protected]
Address: 2 Osborne Villas, Stanley, Co. Durham, DH9 8BH


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