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Construction Cost Estimation

How Construction Cost Estimation Helps Save Money

For contractors and builders the biggest hurdle is to get the construction estimate just right. When you talk to a prospective client and discuss the project, you have to make plans that will fit the budget placed before you. More often than not, the requirements made on you will exceed the financial limitations placed before you. It is here that you have to walk a tight rope and work things out precisely. Estimate right and you make a pile of profit but wrong calculations can hugely set you back. You cannot possibly tell your client that you have undercharged him after signing on the dotted line in the contract.

Here are a few tips to ensure that as a contractor you have cost estimates done as accurately as possible. True, construction management software can take a load off your shoulders but then it will be as good as your inputs only. So before you finalise plans with your client, keep these things in mind.

  • Finalise plans with your customer – As said before a client will first give you an estimate of the financial outlay in mind and will then give you specific requirements. This might be quite different from what you have in mind. You should also be able to work comfortably within the allocated funds. The trick is to have a good set of plans in place – not a sketch of the ideas after a brainstorming session between the two of you. Every facet of construction has to be included in the plan before a contract is drawn up and both of you sign it. This is the best way to avoid expensive modifications or do-over during or post construction.
  • Cost estimating method – Accuracy in estimating costs depends to a great extent on the methodology adopted by you. One is the stick method where every job, sub contractors, materials, permits required and every other work is listed and then a cost put on each of the items. It is a very long drawn and tedious process and simply finalising the estimate might take weeks. If your customer is in a hurry to start on the construction, such delays can cost you the project.

The other is the unit method which is a far quicker and better option and one that you should follow. List out all the line items (assemblies) that will be required for the job and fix the unit price to each of them. Total them up and have the numbers checked by another builder to ensure that you have got the unit prices right. Once you have the total numbers, apply your mark-up and your plan and estimate is ready for submission to client. It is also a lot more accurate than the stick method.

  • Take professional help – A crucial reason why your estimate can go way off the mark might be because of your lack of knowledge and skill sets in areas that are not linked directly to construction activities. For example, getting required building permits will mean following certain statutory and legal formalities that you might not be aware of. Hence take professional help and stay on the right side of the law. If you are operating in the State of Victoria, Australia, consult a property conveyancer in Melbourne to guide you in this regard,. Incidentally, one of the leading property law firms in the State is P&B Law.

This is all the more important as their charges too have to be incorporated in the cost estimate being drawn up by you. The same goes for other jobs that you might have to outsource like plumbing, flooring and other similar jobs. You can take help of construction estimate templates to get started.

  • Review subcontractor’s estimates – There are a lot of jobs that you might have to parcel off to your subcontractor. It is possible that they miss their mark when working out estimates that you will be incorporating in your final plan. Even though they will be solely responsible for any errors, it will affect your construction flow if you have to make modifications midway. Hence it is always advisable to check your subcontractors’ estimates as meticulously as you check yours.

Follow these few tips and you should not have any problem in preparing accurate construction cost estimates.

Tree removal

Hire Tree Removal Agency during Construction

Can the world possibly do without development and construction activities even if it means clearing up trees and deforestation? The answer is a definite NO but with a few clauses attached to it. Tree and stump removal to build a house or commercial space or industries can surely be taken up provided matching planting of saplings are carried out to maintain status quo. Another way is to protect trees whenever possible by taking up a series of measures during construction activities. If these two methods are strictly implemented, a lot can be done for safeguarding our fragile environment from global warming and pollution.

There is the aesthetics aspect to consider too. Suppose you have purchased a plot of land with a large number of old and solid trees to build a house of your own. Would you have the trees removed or rather plan the construction around them if possible? Most would opt for the latter course as the completed house will have a patch of green and trees to shade the house, adding to insulation properties. Additionally a house with a beautiful garden has a greater curb value than one without one.

However, if you plan to keep the trees during construction, you have to take a few measures. The first is to hire a reputed tree care agency that will work in close coordination with the builder during construction. Trees depend on the roots and leaves for food production and damage to either of them can be fatal. Lifting of heavy objects by cranes that brush against the foliage can harm the branches or snap them off. Again, if construction activity is taken up by the builder even some distance away from trees, he has no way of knowing how far the roots have run under the soil. All these can be taken up by an experienced arborist who can guide the builder accordingly. If you are facing such a situation in Melbourne or its suburbs, get in touch with Daryl’s Tree Care & Surgery.

It is not only a matter of removing soil from around the tree that might damage its roots, even dumping construction materials near a tree can harm it irreparably. As any arborist will confirm, most of the main and sub roots that feed the tree and draw water and other nutrients from the soil are at a depth of only 6 to 12 inches. Hence piling up construction material in close proximity of trees will dry up the soil and the roots will get smothered under the weight of the dumped materials. In a worst case scenario the tree might die by the time your house is built and the grounds cleared off debris. This issue can be solved under the supervision of an arborist by putting up protective fencing around trees likely to ne affected.

Another option before you is tree relocation which can only be done by trained arborists. With the help of cranes and specialised equipment, a tree care agency will take out a tree with its roots and sub-soil intact and replant it at another suitable location. However there are a lot of factors in it as the type of soil and the environment in the new place should match if the tree is to be saved. This is of course a long drawn and expensive affair and should only be resorted to when the tree is much loved by the owner of the house under construction.

Finally, whatever be the construction activity, all out effort should be made to save trees on the property from damage and destruction.


How to Pick the Best Plastering Company

Plastering is the first step in covering brick and mortar walls with a smooth surface on which decorative wallpapers or emulsion wall paint can be applied. Hence plastering is very important as any lumps or marks will adversely affect the smooth finishing of the walls at a later stage. Plastering is also used extensively on new ceilings and dry lining. Given its importance in the overall finish and looks of any domestic or commercial building, plastering should not be treated as a DIY job unless of course a small section of the wall or ceiling needs to be touched up. It is always advisable to hire one of the best commercial plastering companies in Melbourne or wherever you are located for plastering work.

Here are a few tips that you can follow in this regard while choosing the best plastering company.

  • Reliability – There are certain ways to verify the quality of work of a plastering work. When you contact one, ask for testimonials from previous clients and verify what their experience has been with the contractor. You can also ask your friends, relatives or neighbours for suggestions in this regard. If possible visit their place to check on the standard of work. The Internet too is an ideal place to select a plastering contractor. Look for those operating in your area, visit their websites and get an idea about their experience and credentials.
  • Services offered – Check on the services offered. Well established plastering companies like Coburg Plasterers offer a range of packages to their clients which are designed to meet specific requirements. Analyse these services and pick a company that can customise packages based on your needs.

Basically, there are three types of plastering work. The first is wet plastering where the bare surface is covered with cement and sand and this wet plaster is then carefully levelled off. After the required thickness is achieved, a finishing coat is applied. The second is dry-lining where pre-fabricated plaster boards are fixed to the wall with mechanical screws or adhesives. The third is plaster skimming where both the methods mentioned before are finished with a plaster “skim”. In this method, the plaster is first evenly spread over the surface and soon after brought to a smooth finish with a trowel. This requires a great deal of professional expertise as the smooth finish has to be obtained before the plaster can have a chance to set in.

Plasterers specialise in one or more such methods and you have to select one keeping your type of work in mind.

  • Affordability – Plasterers will have different rates for separate plastering services and packages and you have to pick on one that suits your budget. However, you have to ensure that you do not compromise on standard of work. It will be very difficult in fact, impossible, to rectify flaws in plastering work made by sub-standard contractors unless whole sections of walls or ceilings are scraped off. When you get down to choosing a plasterer, either by browsing the Internet or from recommendations, pricing should also be a crucial aspect of negotiations.
  • Choose a local contractor – It is preferable to choose a local contractor with a good reputation for your plastering job. It will be easier for you to check on their credentials and quality of work before hiring them.

These are some of the points you should keep in mind when choosing a top plastering company.

Tree protection

Avoiding Tree Damage During Construction

There is a growing awareness today about the effects of deforestation and cutting down of trees that lead to highly polluted environments, global warning and thinning of the ozone layer. Sadly enough, these activities are indispensable today and need to be carried out for developmental work, construction of housing colonies and industries, widening of roads and rapid urbanisation. People when they build their houses choose plots that have good tree cover to ensure green and pristine surroundings. Additionally, a house with a garden and trees is high on curb value, guaranteeing good returns if sold.

How are trees damaged during construction? The first is of course physical harm to the portion above the ground. Branches and limbs are often broken off or damaged and if the wounds are not promptly taken care of it might even be fatal for the tree. Cranes lifting bulk and heavy materials might damage the crown. But the deadliest of possibilities is damage to the roots. It is sometimes not possible to estimate the length that the roots have extended below the ground. Hence, construction even some distance away from the tree can damage the roots too.

The problem then is to protect trees on building sites and it can be done if the right action is taken by the builder. Here are a few ways that damage to trees can be avoided during construction.

If you are constructing your home in an area that has a few trees standing, get an arborist on your team. They are experts in tree care and will know exactly what to do. To a layman roots go down deep below the trunk of the tree only. But as an arborist will tell you over 90% of the roots that absorb water and nutrients from the soil are within the top 6in to 12in of the top soil. Hence if the builders pile up additional soil in close proximity to a tree to increase grade, these roots will get smothered and the tree will die. For more information on how to protect trees during construction, visit

There are a lot of advantages when a builder works closely with an arborist. A tree or a number of them can be saved by making very minor changes in the building plans which in no way will reduce the aesthetics of the structure. Your home will be as you want it to be while trees are saved in the vicinity.

Another way to protect trees during construction is to erect protective barriers around them. These should encircle the trees as far out from the trunk as possible. The rule of thumb is leaving 1ft of length for every inch of diameter of the tree. This will adequately make provision for safeguarding the roots even if they stretch out long.  Further, make sure that the area that has been fenced off should not become a dumping ground for excavated soil or other construction material.

The work of protecting trees should not end after construction activities are completed. Landscaping can take an equal toll on the trees. Installing pipes for automatic sprinkler systems and irrigation facilities can damage roots. Even slight grading that might not be discernible to the naked eye (2in to 6in) creates pressure on the roots and can damage your trees and make them weak.

A lot of work remains for you even after the finishing touches have been given to your house and you have moved into your spanking new home. You have to remember that through the construction stage your trees have gone through a traumatic experience and now needs special care to make them strong and healthy. In fact, stressed trees often require several years to fully recover their health. Here again you should consult arborists to determine the course of action that will bring the trees back to normal health again.