10 Must-Have Skill Sets for Construction Estimators

What construction estimators do?


Construction estimators help tremendously in estimating the costs, time and materials required for construction projects. They estimate the costs of everything from building and materials to infrastructure by analyzing the project data. They take into account everything including labor, equipment, material, schedule, and size of the project. The estimators are employed by many residential, commercial, and industrial companies. Their main role is to estimate costs and budgets for the projects assigned to them.

It is not as simple as it sounds to be a construction estimator; rather it is time-consuming and requires a wide array of skills. Apart from educational skills, construction estimators must have other skills including critical thinking, technical skills, and management skills, etc. They also have to work with other construction experts so communication skills are also very important. In this article, we will be talking about the most important skills required by construction estimators. These skills can help them to be a pro in the estimating field.


Important Skill Sets for Estimators

Ability to Read Technical Documents

Estimators must have the ability to read technical documents, interpret blueprints, plans, and other reports. This includes soil analysis and geotechnical reports. It will help them pinpoint the essential areas that might play a role in increasing or decreasing the cost of projects. Moreover, the estimators through this skill get a clearer picture of the project.

Working Knowledge of Construction Methods

The ability to weigh the pros and cons of different construction methods is what makes the estimators skillful. They should be familiar with the strategies and technicalities required for each method and what goes into the projects. For example, they need to be able to distinguish the cost difference between steel framing and wood framing. Often, the estimators need to travel to the construction site before starting the estimating work. So field experience is also important.

Other disciplines that they might need to be familiar with include civil, architectural, and structural engineering, HVAC, landscaping, and risk analysis.


They must be an avid listener. Understand what the people are saying and clearing the facts and figures by asking questions. Estimators need to be cooperative with the project manager and laborers regardless of what the circumstances are. Construction projects are challenging but despite hectic routine, multiple tasks, the burden of work, they should have the ability to understand the workers and cooperate in difficult times. The famous saying:

” The key to everything is patience. You get the chicken by hatching the egg, not by smashing it.” (Arnold H. Glasgow)

Project Management

The estimators should have the skill to manage the costs of the project if they also work as a project manager.  They should try to minimize the cost and time consumed during the construction of projects. Managing the right tools and equipment during construction projects is very important and they must know, how to manage the material or apparatus required for any project.

Furthermore, the laborers working under them also need to be managed e.g. how they are performing or the type of material they are using. This skill allows the estimator to manage things with the right approach for the successful completion of projects. 

Analytical skills

An estimator should have the skill to analyze the best utilization of material and resources based upon the cost and quality. They should have the option to likewise take a glimpse at and consider proposals and consider approaches. By thinking about each factor of a scheme, a construction estimator should have the option to advise approaches to cut down the costs without compromising on quality.

Usage of Software:

Using the software helps in numerous calculations that are otherwise difficult to do manually. The estimators should know how to use software accurately while minimizing complexity during work. The usage also helps in minimizing time consumption. There are many special softwares for construction projects for example Bluebeam, Plan Swift, and others.

Communication Skills

In a project, many members contribute to the whole. Effective communication between all the members of the construction project is essential to successful work. The estimator has to communicate with all the participants, the engineers, the architect, the project manager, client, sales teams, laborers, and the vendors, etc. When there is good communication among all the participants, the construction project moves effectively. Hence, the estimator can provide better cost estimates and perform his job more efficiently.

Ability to View the Big Picture

An estimator should possess the ability to look at the bigger picture. They can rely on their “gut” but not every time. Thinking ahead and possessing the ability to see how a project will be completed and how it is assembled can prove profitable. The best estimators spend 10% of their time thinking before performing estimations and calculations. Therefore, the ability to think critically helps estimators optimize bids and make a better understanding of the project. It will also help them make adjustments while estimating to win the bid.


The estimators at times get carried away while doing calculations or clarifications for a project. In such situations, the multi-tasking skill comes handy as it helps in juggling with multiple bids. They should have the ability to handle multiple projects at once while maintaining accuracy.

Sufficiency is the Key

A sufficient estimator makes both ends meet and conveys as much information as possible about the project. if the estimator is sufficient, it becomes unnecessary to hire or consider another estimator. Moreover, sufficiency ensures that the information provided is detailed and accurately forecast the cost of the project.

A construction estimator must have the ability to provide the correct estimates of the whole project. They should also give an accurate representation of how much time the whole project would take. They should possess all the necessary skills that are essential to becoming a good construction estimator. Possessing these skills would no doubt help them excel their career and become a professional.

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