Introduction to Construction Estimating


This course is offered in partnership with MTCopeland.  This course is designed for construction professionals looking to learn the basic tools of cost estimating to ensure their project meets the scope requirements, financial cost requirements, and other key factors that are involved in bidding and winning new jobs.  With over 100,000 satisfied students and a course catalog of over 1,000 classes, we are here to help you – Invest in Yourself.



Dr. Kenneth S. Sands II is an Assistant Professor in the Construction Management Program at Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers, FL, and an experienced construction management professional. He holds a doctorate in Environmental Design and Planning from Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, VA. He’s also worked as an estimator and project manager, with previous experience in purchasing, buyout and project site supervision. Dr. Sands’s passion for the construction industry was inspired by his father’s work as a carpenter.

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Course Description

Learn how to prepare a construction estimate from start to finish from Dr. Kenneth Sands, an expert in the Construction Management field and a university professor in Construction Management.

Course Outline

Introduction – Your instructor—educator and experienced construction management professional Dr. Kenneth Sands—welcomes you to the course and introduces the fundamentals of construction estimation.

Construction Estimates and Why They’re Important – Estimates reflect the material, equipment, and labor costs associated with a construction project, in either an itemized breakdown or summary total. Learn why accurate, well-structured estimates are an indispensable part of the construction process, and what key elements any successful estimate will include.

The Art of Estimation – Though working heavily with numbers and mathematics, estimating also requires fluidity and flexibility. Learn about the kind of savvy and collaborative skills a successful estimator will develop, and how communication, above all, is your most useful tool.

Skills Construction Estimators Need – Estimating blends deep knowledge of the trades and construction industry, mathematical skills, and creativity. Ken explains how you must be able to envision an entire project in your head, interpret information, and collaborate with many different kinds of individuals.

Key Tools for a Construction Estimator – Estimating can be done either electronically or by hand. Ken reviews some essential materials you might need to calculate an estimate, including construction documents, estimating software, and references for material costs.

Factors That Drive an Estimate – Ken walks through a list of variables that drive construction estimates, like a project’s size and scope, site location, labor rates, and more.

Types of Construction Estimates – There are several types of estimates, each of which is used in a different phase of a construction project. Learn about conceptual estimates, preliminary estimates, and detailed estimates, and what each entails.

Mapping Estimate Types to Project Phases – Ken teaches you how the three types of estimates covered in the previous lesson relate to the design stages of a project, and which type of estimate you’ll be able to complete based on the level of detail in the designs.

Quantity Takeoff – Quantity takeoff is the process of defining the amount of work that will be required for a given project. Learn about how quantity takeoff is determined, and which factors go into determining quantity takeoff, such as types of labor and number of hours.

Pricing and Scope Alignment – Ken reviews the various inputs to pricing, like supplier costs, vendor markup, and wage rates. He also gives examples of scope alignment, which ensures all costs included in the contract are accurate, complete, and match up with the subcontractors’ pricing.

General Conditions – Don’t overlook ancillary costs when initially putting together an estimate. Learn about various expenses that may arise on a project like scaffolding, cranes, trailers, and more.

Overhead and Profit – Ken explains overhead—the fee you charge for the support services required to complete a project—and how it pertains to profit.

Other Factors to Consider – Learn about additional factors that go into an estimate, like taxes, shipping and delivery costs, and insurance.

Example Estimate – Ken walks you through the estimating process using a small cottage as the project example.

Recommended References – It’s always helpful to have resources on hand to help you determine costs. Ken reviews two of his preferred resources for the material and labor costs associated with various types of construction work.

Updating Your Estimate – Estimates are rarely one-and-done. Learn about the factors that can affect your estimates and necessitate updates, and how to best navigate the process of updating to ensure a successful bid.

Timeline of an Estimate – The time it takes to complete an estimate is heavily dependent on the nature of the project and your experience as a professional estimator. Ken reviews various scenarios that can lengthen the estimating timeline.

Construction Estimator Career Path – Learn about an estimator’s potential career trajectory, and how professional estimators often come from diverse and varied backgrounds.

After You Win a Bid – Your job doesn’t necessarily end after you’ve won the bid. Ken reviews the various roles you may have to play after you’ve completed your estimate, and how you should be prepared to make updates and remain involved on the project you worked so hard to achieve.

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