Hiring a direct employee for estimating offers several pros and cons. The dilemma has always been, should I hire a direct employee or outsource estimating. On the positive side, having an in-house estimator can provide greater control and oversight over the estimating process. The employee would be fully dedicated to your company, allowing for better communication and collaboration with other team members. They would develop a deep understanding of your business’s specific needs and preferences, potentially leading to more accurate estimates tailored to your company’s style and goals. Additionally, having an estimator as part of your team enables more flexibility in adjusting estimates and responding to changes promptly.

However, there are also downsides to hiring a direct employee for estimating. The costs associated with employment, such as salaries, benefits, and overhead expenses, can significantly impact your budget. Moreover, finding and retaining a skilled estimator can be challenging, especially in a competitive job market. If the employee leaves the company, you may face disruptions in the estimating process and need to invest time and resources in finding a replacement. Additionally, an in-house estimator may lack the diversity of expertise that a specialized third-party estimating service can provide.

Outsourcing your estimating to a third-party service also has its advantages and disadvantages. One key benefit is cost savings. Hiring an external estimating service eliminates the need for full-time employee expenses, including salaries, benefits, and office space. Instead, you would typically pay for the estimating service on a per-project or hourly basis, allowing for more flexibility and cost control. Additionally, outsourcing can save you time and effort in recruitment and training, as the estimating service will already have a team of experienced professionals in place.

By outsourcing your estimating, you can tap into a wider range of expertise and experience. Third-party estimating services often work with multiple clients and projects, gaining insights and best practices from diverse industries and construction types. This broader perspective can enhance the accuracy and efficiency of estimates, bringing valuable insights and potential cost savings to your projects. Moreover, outsourcing provides scalability. If your estimating needs fluctuate over time, you can easily adjust the scope of services with an external provider, avoiding the challenges of downsizing or expanding an in-house team.

However, outsourcing estimating also presents potential drawbacks. Communication may become more challenging when working with a separate entity, as you may not have direct, immediate access to the estimator or be able to easily address last-minute changes. There may be a learning curve for the estimating service to fully understand your company’s unique requirements and preferences. Additionally, relying on an external service means putting trust in their capabilities and accuracy.

While reputable estimating services should provide reliable results, there is always a risk of errors or misunderstandings that could impact project costs and timelines.
Ultimately, the decision between hiring a direct employee or outsourcing your estimating depends on your specific circumstances and priorities. Consider factors such as the size and complexity of your projects, the availability of skilled estimators in your area, your budget constraints, and your preference for control and flexibility. It may be beneficial to evaluate the costs and benefits of each option, including the financial implications, expertise and resources required, and the potential impact on project outcomes.

Tom is a construction estimator with over 35 years of experience in the industry from field work to general contracting.

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