“The Benefits of Architect & Development Firms to Hire Independent Cost Estimating Firms”

 by Carl Cathcart CPE, President CPE Estimating – AZ

More then ever the construction industry is a whole new business now and companies are moving in any direction that will help keep them lean and profitable with out giving up quality of product.

So in these times why would an architect or developer pay for a cost estimate when they can get it for free from a General Contractor?

I write this article and note these items having been a General Contractor and a General Contracting Estimator for the past three decades and experiencing first hand the flaws in obtaining a free estimate from a G.C.

Cost Estimates can range from “bar napkin sketches” – single floor plan and elevation pages- partial complete to fully complete drawing and specifications.

These estimates can be used to set budgets, develop architect or engineer estimates, set funding requirements, or most importantly determine if the project will go forward or collapse all together.

Unless the GC has been selected early in the design stage and is working with the design team from day one, they really have no interest in getting you as close to accurate information that you need.

• If they are busy, chances are your request will be handled quickly or passed off to someone that is not fully experienced in providing estimates and will call sub-contractors who maybe just as busy and will throw out quick and not complete numbers just to stay on the GC’s good side?
• How much real time do they invest in something that could make or break your opportunity with your client?
• Are they providing low or unrealistic estimates with the full intent of staying involved in this project from the start?
• Are they representing the best interest of the architect & developer or theirs?
• How beneficial it is to have an Independent Opinion Of Probable Cost from a person that has no interest in building the project whatsoever?
• Do they have a Certified Professional Estimator (CPE) on staff that takes pride in his estimate and adheres to the standards set forth by the American Society of Professional Estimators (ASPE)?
• The independent estimator wants to keep you as a client forever and will be making sure that “change order creep” does not hurt you or your reputation.
• How many GC’s still wanted to remain on the architects or developer’s team (or vice a versa) after the project is over? And is adversity the usual outcome?
• What is it worth to have an experienced and accredited CPE as part of the team to bring fresh perspective and real world experience of bidding and managing projects?
• Do you have to take the time to open up cost books and put something together that your not real sure of, or is there better things to be doing with your time?
• How secure would you feel in your client’s decision if they obtained free architectural drawings or free estimates from another developer for their project?

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