Case study

Estimator — Christian Perress

After college, Christian started an apprenticeship alongside an estimator. He went on to achieve a BSc in Construction Management and is now a fully qualified, experienced estimator

How did you get your job?

I started as a construction apprentice at age 18 and met many people along the way. I've held four jobs in the last 10 years, and all have come about through recommendations and previous colleagues asking me to work with them again.

How relevant is your degree to your job?

In 2018 I graduated from Solent University with a BSc in Construction Management, which I studied part time over three years. This introduced me to a variety of construction methods which I then saw on sites when projects became available to tender.

I learned how to manage individuals and the construction process. Other useful modules were those in finance and law, as they helped me understand the importance of contracts and making a business successful.

What are your main work activities?

A typical estimation project could last between four to 12 weeks. This generally consists of studying drawings, reports, photos, surveys, models, briefs, tables, charts and diagrams as well as undertaking site visits to understand the project requirements. The next steps are:

  • working out the preliminary requirements needed to execute the project
  • establishing the trades required and collating a scope of works for each of them
  • speaking with the intended supply chain to advise them of the project and making sure they're able to carry it out if the tender is successful
  • undertaking measures in line with standard measuring practices
  • making sure everything is priced to ensure a robust tender
  • comparing the received quotations whilst allowing a fair and comprehensive review to be undertaken
  • compiling the tender to come to a nett cost figure
  • completing the pre-submission adjudication and submitting the bid
  • answering post-tender queries and presenting the project to the client
  • winning the project and handing it over to the delivery team.

As tenders can range between £2m and £15m, usually only one is priced at a time. This allows us to really focus on the project, understand the requirements and provide the most competitive bid.

How has your role developed and what are your career ambitions?

Starting off as a trainee, initially I was assisting an estimator and doing measures by hand. More responsibility led to my looking at total packages, understanding the requirements, speaking to the trades and providing the estimator with my recommendations. Now, as a fully qualified estimator, I undertake the whole process from inception to tender submission.

My ambition is to become a commercial director. As well as estimating, I've been the quantity surveyor on many projects. This ability to see the sales side of a project and the delivery of it helps me understand the shortfalls and requirements that should be allowed at tendering stage. Having knowledge of the financial status of a project from tendering through to completion stands me in good stead to enter high level management.

What do you enjoy about your job?

I enjoy interacting with others, understanding the client's need to have the project carried out and trying to get the best price for them.

Once the bid's completed, there's a real excitement that all your hard work and effort could come to fruition.

Attending post-tender interviews and meetings with the client is great too, as this feels like you're selling them their dream.

What are the most challenging parts?

Time is the biggest challenge. It's difficult to fully understand all the project requirements in such a short time. There's often lots of documents and drawings to read and fully digest to ensure nothing's missing from the tender.

Any words of advice for someone wanting to get into estimating?

  • The job is primarily based on quantities and rates, so its important numbers make you tick.
  • A passion for construction and constantly improving your knowledge is key.
  • You'll need to be confident in your ability to present in front of people you don't know and enjoy liaising with a wide variety of people.
  • The job can be stressful, so managing your workload and having a priority list is important.

Find out more

How would you rate this page?

On a scale where 1 is dislike and 5 is like

success feedback

Thank you for rating the page