Whether we’re talking about Florida drywall or any other area of the country, an essential part of installation success is the estimation stage. Putting together an appropriate estimate is key not just for the client, but for the business as well.
Estimate too high, and you may be driving away potential business. Estimate too low, and a job may not be profitable. This is part of the reason why commercial drywall estimators are so important. The scale of a commercial drywall job can make it difficult to calculate, requiring professional expertise. Here’s what that entails and how to get in that position.
What Commercial Drywall Estimators Do
So, what exactly does a commercial drywall estimator do? The job is similar to other construction cost estimators, where they use their own data and insight in order to figure out the following requirements to complete a drywall estimation/repair job:
Because this is a high-level job in the industry, many drywall estimators narrow down their expertise further, into different sub-disciplines like metal framing drywall. The day-to-day duties of a cost estimator can vary in quite a few different ways. These include:
- Looking at data to find out factors that affect overall costs
- Making recommendations to leadership on how to reduce costs based on this information
- Reviewing technical documents and blueprints
- Maintaining cost records
- Collaborating with many different teams/entities from engineering to sales to other contractors to clients
- Going to different job sites before making a bid in order to provide an accurate one
A strong commercial drywall estimator is essential to the long-term finances of a company. We mentioned the consequences of a company bidding too low in order to get a client, but what about issues during the project itself? For example, a certain type of material that a company uses may become more expensive during a job due to a market shortage. It falls on the estimator to look at the job history and expenses involved, find the correlation, and report it to management.
Being a drywall cost estimator is not a static job that’s only needed when taking on a new client. Instead, it’s a constant cycle of reviewing data, simulating the construction process, and determining how a design choice impacts overall costs. Project management software is generally a critical part of their work.
As a final note, many drywall companies, especially smaller ones, fold the duties of drywall estimator into a catch-all position: the drywall project manager. This is going to make a large difference when it comes to learning how to break into the job. On top of doing estimations, some of the job duties may include:
- Overseeing metal framing drywall installation and other drywall installation
- Hiring tapers and installers
- Interfacing with customers and clients as a company representative
- Working both on the job site as well as in the main office
Becoming A Commercial Drywall Estimator
So, how exactly do you become a proper commercial drywall estimator project manager? As a starting point, you may want to get an undergrad degree in a field like building science or construction management. That’s not required as a first step, though you will likely want to do it later on in your work experience. The universal starting point for all estimators, though, is getting drywall experience.
Most people who want to break into drywall develop the necessary skills through training as installers or tapers. Some people do this informally, others learn on the job, while others pursue full-on apprenticeships. These apprenticeship programs, as a baseline, generally have 2,000 paid training hours on the job, combined with 144 classroom hours. These are distributed across a 3-4 year period.
While you get this experience or afterward, you may want to think about pursuing a degree. It’s not impossible to get a construction management job with a high school diploma and experience, but it’s becoming more and more common to demand a bachelor’s degree in one of the areas that we mentioned earlier. In addition, these course tracks teach you valuable skills like project administration, scheduling, and of course, estimating. In some situations, an associate’s degree combined with experience is enough.
The next stage is getting an actual position in the field. Most employers for drywall management want five years of experience. You can opt to work with either specialized drywall contractors that do commercial work, building contractors, or general contractors. Think about your future goals when making this choice. It’s also a good idea to set up job alerts so you can quickly see publicly posted positions and apply.
While you may be able to do some estimating work at this point in that role, there’s still one major milestone left in your career, and that’s getting a Certified Construction Manager (CCA) credential. This comes from the Construction Management Association of America, and requires you to have 4 years of experience and your bachelor’s degree in an appropriate field. You will also require two references and to take an exam. Note that the CCA credential needs to be renewed every three years, and you need to complete professional development hours during those intervals.
Commercial drywall estimators are a key part of overall commercial construction work. The time and money required for them to do their job play a key role in how the entire construction process goes. So, whether you are a strict drywall company or a general contractor with estimating experience as part of your suite of services, it’s essential that you look into project management software like eSUB. This helps you look at the historical costs of things like commercial metal framing and other aspects of your projects. Being able to see the costs of your past drywall projects and act on that information will help make you a better estimator and a more effective drywall company overall.