A steelwork estimator usually works for a steel fabricator, providing reliable and accurate estimates of the types and quantities of steel required for various construction projects.
A steel estimator comes from the same background as a quantity surveyor (QS), except that the latter works for the client who is commissioning the project.
They have a thorough understanding of commercial construction and will invariably have several projects underway at the same time, with the total value amounting to many millions of dollars.
Schedules of quantities, known as ‘take off’, are measured from the drawings, plans and specifications produced by the design team. This information, together with the estimated cost of the actual fabrication, forms the basis of the fabricator’s tender for the business.
The estimator has to be able to read and understand job bid instructions and detailed specifications. After establishing the availability, the estimator often orders all the steel needed for the project , taking care to include any additional costs when it has been stipulated that the steel must be pre-cambered or given a protective coating.
To the material costs are added the costs of fabricating the steel in the workshop and of erecting it on site. This will include all equipment costs (such as plant and crane hire) to prepare a comprehensive price estimate. Tender submissions containing prices and conditions are written with a view to securing new contracts for the business.
When the business has won a new contractor, the steel estimator must keep tabs on the financial status of each project, compiling the information on which monthly progress payments are based and calculating claims that arise from variations. Sometimes these require the estimator to attend site meetings and provide project management input.
Strong analytical ability and good communication skills are essential when dealing with contractors and suppliers. Computer knowledge will help with mastering estimating software packages.