Material Estimate by Count:

To build the unit price, count quantities for each wall element—studs, plates, headers, and sheathing. In this example (top), doors and window rough openings are assumed to be 3 feet, and sheathing is assumed to be applied horizontally in staggered courses. Waste from jack studs provides blocking, but cripples are counted at a rough length of 4 feet each. Some contractors add a waste factor to allow for damaged material, or to provide lumber for bracing; others add a separate line item for these.


Unit Price per Square or Linear Foot:

The middle table converts quantities from the material takeoff to a quantity per square foot of wall area. This value, combined with a dollar cost, will yield the unit price per square foot. The bottom table converts quantities to linear feet. Combined with a dollar cost, this value will yield the unit price per linear foot of wall.
Material Estimate by Count: To build the unit price, count quantities for each wall element—studs, plates, headers, and sheathing. In this example (top), doors and window rough openings are assumed to be 3 feet, and sheathing is assumed to be applied horizontally in staggered courses. Waste from jack studs provides blocking, but cripples are counted at a rough length of 4 feet each. Some contractors add a waste factor to allow for damaged material, or to provide lumber for bracing; others add a separate line item for these. Unit Price per Square or Linear Foot: The middle table converts quantities from the material takeoff to a quantity per square foot of wall area. This value, combined with a dollar cost, will yield the unit price per square foot. The bottom table converts quantities to linear feet. Combined with a dollar cost, this value will yield the unit price per linear foot of wall.

The foundation of every computerized estimating system is its database of unit prices. This type of pricing looks at typical project components, such as an exterior wall or a floor system, and calculates the cost per a particular unit of measure, such as a square foot, a square yard, or a linear foot. To develop a unit price, you need to do a stick estimate, but you only need to do it once for each component in your database. The stick estimate worksheet I discussed in my last column (Business, Aug/13) has all the elements needed to create a unit price.

Let’s look at how you might go about calculating a unit price to frame a typical exterior wall. I find that working from a sketch of the wall, such as the one below, makes it easier to visualize all the parts and pieces that need to be included. As with the custom item worksheet, the unit price worksheet uses a unit of measure that fits the...

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