Carpentry Estimator: a new concept in trade specific estimating

Carpentry Estimator: a new concept in trade specific estimating

Professional Builder’s Lee Jones talks to Simon Huddart about a new concept in trade specific estimating.

Give that it is time consuming, and with no guarantee that you will ultimately win the work as a result, quoting for jobs can be one of the more frustrating aspects of the life of a tradesman. Some might resort to the services of a quantity surveyor, but this can be an expensive proposition. Moreover, whilst it is undoubtedly a highly qualified profession, QS practitioners might lack the trade specific and site-based knowledge necessary to produce a document that reflects the perspective of a particular trade in all its essential detail.

This was the experience of time-served chippie, Simon Huddart, and the inspiration for Carpentry Estimator. “I’ve done a lot of work for main contractors over the years and often all you are given when you’re asked to price a job is the drawings and, if you’re lucky, an architect’s spec. Producing a spreadsheet or a bill of quantity from these is not necessarily a skill that every tradesman might have, and if crucial information is left off then that can cause real problems in terms of the profitability of the job for a subbie. That got me thinking that an estimating service that specialised in carpentry, where quotes are produced by someone with expert knowledge of that trade, would be a useful resource for building firms to draw upon.”

Since then Simon has set up Carpentry Estimator, where he applies the very skills that won him work on multi million pound contracts in the service of other tradespeople, producing a professional quote that can then be supplied to a potential client as a PDF document. So just how does it work in practice? “A builder recently sent me the details of a new build property they’d been asked to look at,” he explains. “From the five drawings they provided I was able to break it down to its constituent categories, whether that’s the timber frame, external walls, floor joists, and flooring, or the internal carpentry, like doors, architraves and skirtings. Every single piece of carpentry work that’s in that job is then measured, quantified and a rate placed on it. We charge per estimate, and rates will vary depending on the complexity of the quote required, and if there’s any specific requirements we can talk those through.”

For smaller firms who might not have the resources to comprehensively price every job, Simon’s service can then step in, but he is confident it can equally apply to any size of job. As a result, the more jobs quoted for, the more work that could accrue as a result, and the more accurate the price the better the bottom line.

“Because my own expertise is in carpentry that’s where we’ve begun but ultimately there’s no reason why this can’t be extended to other trades,” concludes the Kent-based builder. “The principle of a quote being provided by someone with real experience in that trade would remain true but it would certainly work for plumbers, plasterers, roofers and beyond.”

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