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5 Cost Estimate Mistakes Homeowners Usually Make and How to Avoid Them

Making cost estimates is one of the toughest parts in construction for homeowners. But it’s very pivotal for the smooth running of the whole process.

You may either save or lose money in relation to how good your approximation is and how close it is to the cost of the entire project.

Do you make accurate estimations? And for homeowners, are there specific mistakes that you make that lead to losses instead of major wins when it comes to the budget? As the recent survey by TSheets and QuickBooks suggests, almost a third of companies in construction don’t make the required profits because of estimation.

For the respondents, forty percent were not quite confident in their estimations which explains the loss.

image - 5 Cost Estimate Mistakes Homeowners Usually Make and How to Avoid Them
5 Cost Estimate Mistakes Homeowners Usually Make and How to Avoid Them

You see, you may make a single cost estimate for let’s say in buying cement but that may not make you feel the pinch in your pocket just yet. But when you budget wrongly around five items that are costly, you may end up stalling the whole project.


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To come up with a clear and accurate estimation is no walk in the park. Someone good in making estimates should be valued. When looking to own a home, several variables need to be considered to come up with the right estimates.

Projects always vary and so do variables. From timber, all the way to iron sheets and the cost of labor required not forgetting emergencies that may occur at the construction site. Everything needs to be accounted for.

As earlier mentioned, getting a few estimations wrong could lead to the house stalling and not finishing in time. It may also lead to you digging deeper into your pocket spending money you had not budgeted for. This means losses.

For the company carrying out the mandate, this could lead to them not making any profits which amount to free labor.

Let’s look at some of the 5 cost estimate mistakes homeowners make and how to avoid them.

  1. Not Visiting the Site

If you are looking to build a home, it’s not enough that you have the plan for the home. Visiting the site is key before making any estimates. You see, the site may have things that you had not originally imagined which could mean more cost.

For example, there may be an already existing structure where you want to erect yours. There may be an unwanted pool or drainage pipes that would need to be gotten rid of before indulging in the real work.

Also, things like the texture of the soil need to be inspected before making construction estimates and this can only be carried out during site visits.

If the soil is hard, that will mean more advanced equipment time taken to break the hardpan will be more resulting in higher pay for the workers.

  1. Inaccurate Takeoffs

Construction takeoffs are pivotal when talking about construction and homeowners should be aware of this otherwise cost estimate mistakes are going to occur.

This carries the blueprint of everything necessary for your home to be complete. Whether its renovation or building a home from scratch, a takeoff is necessary. Equipment used and labor incurred inclusive.

Failure to account for all the materials and accurate costs may lead to overestimation or underestimation.

For this, there is a software called CostCertified that can aid in acquiring the right estimates. It also saves time compared to doing it manually. With training, an estimator can find this tool to be useful.

  1. Market Prices

If you are considering owning a home, or you are a homeowner thinking of renovation, you should be aware of the cost of supplies and materials.

They are always fluctuating. The cost of cement today is not the same as it was ten years ago. They change due to demand and tariff uncertainty and this may affect your estimation if not keen.

Always ensure that you have updated market prices for supplies. You can get accurate prices from manufacturers or suppliers.

They may also advise you on the best materials to use for your home construction.

After knowing the prices, it’s good to quantify them too. And when talking about market prices, labor and equipment are also included. Getting it right will enable you to avoid cost estimate mistakes.

  1. Assumptions

Making guesses when doing your estimates is a deadly gamble. When talking about the cost of materials, labor, equipment, and their quantifications, make sure the coasts are updated.

Don’t just assume that the electricity you have will be sufficient or power won’t go off. Have a generator firsthand for backup purposes.

Not thinking about this firsthand is an estimation mistake that may lead to digging deeper into your pocket.

Inclusions and additions are not advisable.

  1. Accessing Contingencies

Risks are unavoidable in all circumstances including construction. When doing estimation for your home, accessing risks should be part of it.

Find a top-notch estimator who can access the specific problems that your project may encounter. This will help give a clear amount of what you need for the whole project.

If risks are not considered when creating your final budget, it may be frustrating. A more catastrophic risk requires more time and means more money should be set aside for mitigation.

When you are in the process of building your home and something unplanned happens, you may suffer grave losses.

Once all the above has been done, reviewing is important to make sure that nothing has been overlooked. You may have made the right estimate for the cost of labor but failed to quantify.

Having a sub-contractor helping you with the above could also be beneficial as they have the expertise required.

Above, we have looked at the 5 cost estimate mistakes homeowners usually make and how to avoid them. For instance, we said that using the wrong prices for materials could be damaging to the budget, and the best way to ensure you avoid that is by having updated market prices for all the materials labor included.

And for those who plan to own a home, following the above steps could help ensure that you get your estimates right and that you run a stress-free project.


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