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  • The Pitfalls of Hybrid Estimating

    A look at three ways to create an estimate, with varying proportions of labor, materials, and subcontractors.

  • Three Ways To Handle "Your Price Is Much Higher Than The Other Guy"

    Next time a prospect tells you your price is higher than someone else’s try these tactics to keep the conversation moving and see if your prospect could justify paying more.

  • Yellow Pad Estimating For Contractors: The Good and the Bad

    Doing a paper-and-pencil estimates on the fly can actually serve a good purpose ... just not all the time.

  • What I Like: Clear Estimates Software

    Two remodelers have gained productivity and won new jobs thanks to software with built-in templates and data for 12,000 parts

  • In addition to creating a drawing and spec sheet, such as the one shown above, for small, medium, and large versions of each project type, the author also creates a complete estimate, including all quantities. Complex projects can be estimated by combining templatesfor example, combining templates for a kitchen addition, a powder room, and a laundry.

    Estimating Using Templates, Part Three (Subscriber content)

    Whether you estimate with an off-the-shelf system or using an Excel spreadsheet, most systems today are built around a database of unit pricing items. Here are some tips to get you started.

  • Snow Hill, NC, April 19, 2011 -- Jim Sadler, FEMA surveys the Genesis Subdivision  during a preliminary damage assessment in Snow Hill, North Carolina following the severe storms and deadly tornadoes of April 16, 2011. David Fine/FEMA

    Getting Started as an Insurance Adjuster (Subscriber content)

    When a hurricane or other natural disaster strikes, CAT-adjusters go to work, assessing damage for insurance companies. Contractors looking for a job that takes their stiff joints and aching back off the jobsite might consider using their experience in construction as a licensed adjuster.

  • To use your own data to find hrs/BF or hrs/SF, divide average hours used for each framing task by total SF or BF of materials used. (BF = thickness x width [in inches] x length [in feet]  12). This table shows figures for tasks associated with framing and sheathing a typical exterior wall.

    How to Calculate Unit Prices for Labor (Subscriber content)

    While unit prices for labor are available from a number of sources, the best source is a company's own job history. This article uses an example of framing an exterior wall to show how to use that data to calculate unit costs for labor based on material quantities.

  • DeWalt Mobile Pro Construction Calculator App (Subscriber content)

    JLC contributor Bruce Greenlaw weighs up the pros and cons of this construction calculator.

  • Material Estimate by Count:

To build the unit price, count quantities for each wall elementstuds, 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.

    Building a Unit Price (Subscriber content)

    The foundation of every computerized estimating system is its database of unit prices, but how do you begin to build a price? George Weissgerber outlines the process from start to finish.

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    Stick-Estimate Worksheet (Subscriber content)

    A straightforward spreadsheet can be used for a single task or as a building-block for a unit-pricing database

  • Tips for Would-Be Remodelers (Subscriber content)

    New-home builders transitioning to remodeling need to watch out for these issues

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    Using a Simple Timecard to Collect Labor History (Subscriber content)

    Gather accurate information for your estimates

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    Using XactRemodel to Increase Profitability (Subscriber content)

    The best part of this estimating software is its extensive database of item costs, says the author

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    Anticipating Price Fluctuations (Subscriber content)

    Contractors need to allow for material and labor price increases that may occur after they submit a quote

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    The 10-Minute Profit Check (Subscriber content)

    Checking weekly that actual expenses are in line with the estimate alerts you to overruns

  • A Tale of Two Estimates

    The methods insurance estimators use are a far cry from the way most contractors estimate.

  • Getting Paid for Preconstruction Advice (Subscriber content)

    Use a "professional services agreement" to get compensated for consulting time

  • Surviving a Competitive Bid

    A good strategy starts with knowing when to say no.

  • Controlling Whole-House Remodeling Costs

    Managing customer and architect expectations can head off problems in a remodeling project.

  • iQuick Estimator

    Estimate materials, labor, and more for six different construction trades including concrete, flooring, drywall, paint, roofing, and framing all from the iQuick Estimator app available on the iPhone and iPod Touch.

JLC Field Guide to Decking