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The Ultimate Guide to Interior Construction Estimating

In the construction business, having accurate construction estimates is vital to the life of your business. It is important to not only the contractor but also the client to have strong estimates for not only the exterior construction of a project but the interior as well.

Have strong construction estimating consultants are must-haves for construction businesses. They can take a lot of the stress and guesswork out of this portion of the construction business when it comes to interior construction trade specific. By using construction estimating software, construction consultants can provide detailed and useful estimates for their clients.

With commercial construction projects, some may not realize that separate detailed specific estimates are needed. Many contractors and developers may be too busy or not know how to create construction estimates.

This is where construction consultants are vital to construction businesses. Whether it is new construction or a renovation of the interior of a building, having an accurate interior construction estimate is key to winning jobs.

With this helpful guide to interior construction estimating, we will help to take most of the guesswork out of construction estimate. This guide is designed to help developers, contractors, and subcontractors to estimate interior construction that are trade specific to the project/s.

This guide will cover many aspects of interior construction estimating. We will discuss what construction estimating is and why it is important for interior construction. We will also show you some tips and tricks on how to estimate your construction costs.

What is interior construction or trade specific estimating?

Construction estimating is the act of calculating the cost of an interior construction project. These estimates include calculations for quantities of materials needed for the job, as well as labor costs. This construction takeoff calculation includes an itemized list, allowing for owners and developers to see the cost for each item.

Having an interior construction estimate is important to propose a project. Knowing the cost of the project sometimes allows for determining a budget and securing financing for you and your client.

Once you have a solid construction estimate you can provide your bid to an Owner or Developer for them to make a better decisions on buy-out or financing and planning the construction project. They can then begin the process of gaining financing for the project.

Construction estimating also helps General Contractors working with Subcontractors. With an interior construction estimate from a Subcontractor, the General Contractor includes the costs for the Subcontractor in their bid.

Why is interior construction estimating important?

Interior construction estimating is important because it can make or break a project because of the many complexities and details.

Whether the interior construction is part of a new build or part of a renovation, construction estimating can either win or lose you the job. Accurate estimating of costs is important for the success of your business.

Gaining an accurate estimate for your projects can win your business for profits, confidence with clients and confidence in our service as well as growing your clients. However, if you do not have an accurate construction estimate service, those mistakes can end up costing you and your client thousands of dollars and potentially further business.

In the construction industry, estimating bids is the lifeblood of a successful business. Having a good, accurate estimate to bring to your client will determine how successful your business will be.

How to estimate an interior construction project

There are several tried and true methods for estimating an interior construction project. If you own your own construction firm, you likely have many roles.

If you have a small firm, likely you are the salesperson, estimator, project manager, supervisor, and possibly working on the job site yourself. For many, that is an overwhelming amount of work for one person.

Hiring an in-house estimator or utilizing a qualified estimating firm such as ours can help in taking the work of finding estimates for your projects off your shoulders. If you cannot afford to hire your own in-house estimator, hiring an estimating firm on an “as needed” basis is still one of the best choices if you can afford it.

That being said, there are still contractors that want to do as much as they can on their own. That is fine if you are worried about budgeting, but you want to make sure you know what you are doing. As mentioned before, mistakes in estimating construction can have a huge cost.

The following are some tips if you decided to take the “do it yourself” route.

Methods for estimating construction costs

  • Hand Method
  • Getting Hard Bids
  • Using Digital Takeoff Software
  • Hire Qualified Estimating Firm

Hand Method

While preparing an estimate is the most traditional way to create an estimate for your project, it is also the most labor-intensive method to follow. It also can be the least accurate method to use when creating a construction estimate.

That being said, we are including this method as part of the ultimate guide. Also, if you are looking to cut costs, this is an option for you.

  • Step 1: Print the Drawings
    • Use a local print shop to print your drawings. Not only do they tend to charge less than the big box stores such as Staples and Office Depot, but you will also be helping your local community. Sometimes cost are close to outsourcing the estimate.
  • Step 2: Gather the Tools to Create your Estimate
    • You will need the following to create your estimate: scale ruler, highlighter, pens and pencils, digital scale pen, notepad, and a calculator
  • Step 3: Takeoff your Project
    • The term for measuring quantities is called the “takeoff”. Use your digital scale pen or scale ruler to measure walls, ceilings, and floors.
    • Use your highlighter and notepad to keep track of your measurements so that you do not double-measure. Doing so can drastically throw off your estimate!
  • Step 4: Calculate Labor and Material Costs
    • Using an Excel Spreadsheet can help you in organizing your itemized list for labor and materials. If you are not tech-savvy, your notepad will work as well.
    • You will need to know your unit costs for your materials (for example, $0.50 per square foot of drywall for labor) but is an overall guess.
    • Using the Craftsmen National Construction Estimator is a great tool to help in estimating unit costs.
    • If using Subcontractors, be mindful of any markups and add those to your estimate
    • Knowing the costs of materials and labor, you can estimate the time and cost of the job.

The Hard Bid Method

The most common method for creating an interior construction estimate is using the Hard Bid Method. With the method, the General Contractor makes a list of all the jobs needed for a project and then puts a bid list out to Subcontractors.

Once they have Subcontractors lined up, the GC can then add their supervision, dumpsters, equipment rental, conditions, contingency, and profit.

This method is great when utilizing sites such as The Blue Book. Subcontractors can create an account and network with other subcontractors. You can also load your project and plans and send them out to subcontractors to bid on.

Using Digital Takeoff Software

Digital Takeoff Software is one of the best and quickest ways to prepare estimates accurately. While doing an estimate by hand can take up to five days, using Digital Takeoff Software and have an estimate ready in a matter of hours.

Using this software can save you in having to print out plans, saving you time and money. If you are not comfortable using this software, hire a professional estimator who will use the software to help you. This will also free you up to focus on running your business.

Using digital spreadsheets such as Excel will again help you in saving paper. You can add in formulas to instantly calculate costs as you go.

You will need to take in account labor, materials, and percentages for GC and Subcontractors. You can then look at your costs, contingency, and profit estimates.

Hire Qualified Estimating Firm

One of the best options for construction business owners is to use an estimating firm. While having an in-house estimator is a great option for small businesses, but it may not be in your budget as they can be expensive to hire.

Using an estimating firm is a great option and budget-friendly. They also will take care of the estimating process for you, allowing you to focus on your clients and business.

The average cost of using an in-house estimator is around $8,000 and up/ (when factoring in payroll, office rental, insurance, equipment, etc.). On the other hand, outsourcing with an estimating firm costs a total of $1,000 and up per month. Or use to handle increase in opportunity for additional project estimating. Based on how much you want to bid.

It is a no-brainer that going with an estimating firm specific to trade specific is the best option for your budget.


Helping contractors, subcontractors, and developers with interior construction are our business. We are dedicated to helping in creating great estimates for your construction proposals.

We take the time to focus on our clients and know what their specific needs are for each project.

This guide is just a portion of how we can help with your projects. We offer a wide variety of services to a wide range of clients. Our goal is to help our clients every step of the way in winning interior construction jobs.

If you have heart trouble, would you see a specialist or a general practitioner?

So what are you waiting for? Let us show you what we can do for you!

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