When considering outsourcing your estimating to a third-party service, it’s crucial to qualify and assess the potential providers to ensure they are reputable and capable of delivering accurate and reliable estimates. Here are some key questions to ask when evaluating and selecting an estimating service.

  1. Experience and Expertise: Inquire about the company’s experience in construction estimating and their familiarity with your specific industry and project types. Ask how long they have been providing estimating services, their track record, and if they have worked on similar projects before. Assess their expertise in cost analysis, material selection, and knowledge of local regulations and codes.
  2. References and Portfolio: Request references from past clients or projects. Reach out to these references to inquire about their experience working with the estimating service. Additionally, ask for a portfolio of completed projects or case studies that demonstrate the company’s capabilities and the accuracy of their estimates.
  3. Estimating Process: Understand the estimating service’s approach and methodology. Ask about the software and tools they use, their process for conducting quantity takeoffs, and how they gather and validate cost data. A well-defined and systematic process indicates professionalism and reliability.
  4. Accuracy and Quality Control: Inquire about the estimating service’s quality control measures. Ask how they ensure the accuracy of their estimates, whether they have a system for double-checking calculations and assumptions, and if they have a review process in place. A commitment to accuracy and quality control is essential to avoid costly errors.
  5. Collaborative Approach: Assess how the estimating service collaborates with clients. Ask if they involve you in the estimating process, seek your input and feedback, and how they handle any clarifications or revisions required. Effective communication and collaboration are crucial for successful outsourcing.
  6. Turnaround Time: While a 24-hour estimate may not be realistic for accurate and detailed estimates, inquire about their typical turnaround times for projects similar to yours. Ensure their estimated timelines align with your project schedules and deadlines.
  7. Cost Structure: Understand the pricing structure of the estimating service. Ask about their fee arrangement, whether it’s a fixed price or based on the complexity of the project. Inquire about any additional charges for revisions or unforeseen circumstances that may arise during the estimating process.
  8. Confidentiality and Data Security: Construction estimating involves sharing sensitive project information. Ensure the estimating service has measures in place to maintain confidentiality and protect your data. Inquire about their data security protocols, including how they handle and store project-related information.
  9. Contractual Agreements: Request a sample contract or service agreement outlining the terms and conditions of engaging their estimating services. Review it carefully, paying attention to liability, confidentiality, termination clauses, and dispute resolution procedures.
  10. Communication and Reporting: Inquire about the frequency and mode of communication the estimating service maintains throughout the estimating process. Understand how they present their estimates and reports, including the level of detail and clarity provided.


By asking these key questions and thoroughly evaluating the responses, you can better qualify an estimating service and make an informed decision. It’s essential to find a reputable provider with the necessary expertise, a proven track record, and a commitment to accuracy and quality control.

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

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