RepOne: Independent Building Consultants — a blog worthy of bookmarking

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An archive example discovered when RepOne blogger Derek Graham caught a major “dump” from the New York Department of Transportation

Derek Graham’s RepOne blog provides a fascinating perspective from an independent oversight consultant/expert witness. Derek combines excellent writing skills with in-depth construction industry knowledge, and a New York City perspective.

In a recent posting, he explains how he caught the New York Department of Transportation throwing out some incredible historical plans and files — he grabbed a few of them before the majority went to the dumpster.

His most recent posting: Construction Estimating — 10 most common mistakes, should provide a wake-up call to contractors who fail to get their estimates right. Things can go wrong, very wrong, and there are more than one reason for the difficulties.

He says contractors unreasonably rely on cost guides, and others fail to realize that practical field experience is probably more important than an engineering degree in preparing estimates (though the ideal estimator will have both).

Many larger firms overemphasize the criteria that their estimators must have engineering degrees. By and large — just like project schedulers, having only an engineering degree in no way trumps proper field experience. Indeed, I believe that estimators lacking field experience are mere theoreticians, and don’t have the requisite experience to critically assess their estimates beyond books. Such a lack of experience contributes to estimating shortfalls. If I had to choose, I’d take the guy who worked the tools, instead of the books. Of course, an estimator with an engineer and field experience would be optimal.

Consider also this point, number 7 of 10:

The inability to properly valuate general conditions, overhead, and soft-costs, is a ubiquitous estimation oversight. In fact, it is commonplace for a contractor to merely mark-up a percentage for such costs, if for no other reason than they haven’t the wherewithal to scientifically calculate them. General conditions, overhead, and soft-costs, have a tendency to multiply on projects with many change orders, and/or delays. It is very difficult to substantiate any cost increases for these line items: owners don’t get it, and perhaps they don’t want to.

I’ll let you read the rest of his post for the rest — and you’ll want to look at the other entries, for a wealth of insights, which may cause you some anxiety as you realize your “best practices” really aren’t quite there.

This is indeed a worthy entry in the competition.

Voting for the 2014 Best Construction Blog competition continues through March 31.  You can vote for one or more blogs of your choice, but only once.

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