Now that would be a very good question! To try and answer it, though, is a different matter! The whole of construction is one big “Pitfall” after another. Most people would label these as “problems” or “challenges” or something like that. We must be an odd bunch because we tend to just refer to them as the “interesting bits” of the job!
Anyway, as far as Estimating goes the “Pitfalls” do have to be taken seriously, particularly in the UK. With the very low profit margins that can be looked for if a Tender is to beat the competition, be accepted and keep a company in business, we must try and anticipate everything that will have an adverse effect on us, both in terms of money and of time. So, when we get asked to do our estimating to submit a Tender, how do we avoid these pitfalls?
We get the Drawings and the Specifications, Bill of Quantities, etc.. These have to be studied carefully and then we can begin to take off quantities. That is a start made! My next step is to visit the site. There I can have a good look around to see what it is like. Demolition? Land Remediation? Access problems? Yes, the paperwork did say demolition but did they have a good look inside the premises. I did and what did I find that was being kept secret? Asbestos!
Then I advise that you get really sneaky! Have a wander around in the area and find some local lads working close by. Ask them about ground conditions. Tut, tut, tut! The client obviously hadn’t had a geotechnical survey done because these lads tell you that here buildings need piles!
So, back to the office and time to make loads of phone calls. Find out the procurement periods for all the materials that might be hard to come by. Meanwhile someone is doing their best to come up with a Programme to give a rough idea of what has to be done and in what order. Next thing, then, is chat with subbies to find out how long they think their Tasks will take. Later, if you win the project you can actually tell them; means they’ll need fewer, or more, men on the job. For now, though, be pleasant and polite to them. They may have identified pitfalls you haven’t noticed and they’ll only tell you if you’re Mr. Nice Guy!
Not far to go, now! Decide on what site facilities are required then get what you’ve ascertained down on a Programme. That will give you the Time for the project with, hopefully, some added for the pitfalls you’ve identified. Hand it over to the Quantity Surveyors and they will put Costs in it. While they’re at it they check optimum order quantities to keep delivery costs down! That is a right downer if you suddenly find you’re 200 bricks short and have to wait 3 weeks for them and pay an extra £200 delivery! Both Time and Money down the drain!
So there it is! You’ve looked for and avoided pitfalls on the Time and Task front; the QS’s has done the same on the Money front. Submit your Tender, win the contract for the project and get on site!