If you are an estimator who happens to be blessed with an unlimited budget and works in an environment where timelines are meaningless, this post isn’t for you.

But, if you’re like the rest of us and are conducting business here in the real world, we’d like to take a minute to talk realistically about getting estimates for modular construction.

Saying this is something we “love” to do might be a bit of a stretch. Still, it’s probably safe to say that we all know just how important an accurate, reliable, and up-to-date estimate can be to maintaining your bottom line and ensuring an efficient workflow.

The key here is the words “accurate,” “reliable,” and “up to date.” Without those three things, your estimate is, at best, worthless and, at worst, potentially detrimental to your operation.

But what do you do if you’re an estimator who’s been asked to pull together some numbers for a potential new modular building and you’re unfamiliar with the product category? (Or even unfamiliar with the benefits of modular.) How do you know what questions to ask and what pertinent information to gather?

At CoverSix, we understand that not everyone knows the Ins and Outs of modular construction quite like we do. After all, we’ve been in the industry for decades and have worked on countless projects all over the world.

To help those of you new to the field who need to get an RFP out ASAP, we’ve pulled together a list of questions you can ask yourself to ensure that you get the accurate, reliable, and up-to-date estimates you’re looking for.

6 questions to answer when preparing your request for a modular construction estimate

If you’re regularly sending out requests for estimates, some of the items listed below may seem like no-brainers. Still, it is important to look at all of the information we’ve included through the lens of modular construction. After all, as the head of research at General Motors, Charles Kettering, once said, a problem well stated is one that’s already half solved.

1. Are you looking for a rough order of magnitude quote or something more formal?
If you need a rough estimate for simple budgetary purposes, chances are you can get one by providing the vendor with a lot less information than if you need an official price quote. For the latter, it is essential to get as in-depth as possible by including all information you have regarding specifications, warranties, floorplans, etc. Seriously, don’t hold back. No vendor will ever tell you that you’ve provided them with too much information.

2. What is the deadline for the proposal, and does it need to be valid for a certain length of time?
At CoverSix, most of our estimates are valid for 30 days. However, if you need one that will be valid for longer than that (60 or even 90 days), we’ll be happy to provide it—just let us know as early on as possible. As you can probably imagine, thanks to today’s highly volatile global economy, we’re constantly monitoring fluctuating costs related to things like raw materials and transportation, so the longer an estimate needs to be good, the longer we need to project out.

3. Have you provided everything that could be useful to the vendor?
We’ve already said it, but it’s probably worth saying again—the more information you can provide, the better the estimate you’ll get back from the vendor. So, with that in mind, any details you can offer regarding goals, deliverables, deadlines, scope, and overall expectations are all fair game.

4. Is a floor plan or an engineering plan required?
One of the biggest benefits of utilizing modular construction is its customization.

We’ve always said that if you can dream it, we can build it.

That said, sometimes it’s important to ensure that you and the vendor are on the same page regarding your layout needs, window/door placement, internal furnishings, and HVAC requirements. In those cases, it’s entirely appropriate for you to request that a floor plan be included in each proposal. If you do, please allow at least one extra week for the work to be completed. Once the contract is awarded, a full engineering plan can then be completed in four to six weeks.

5. Where does the building need to deliver?
In the past, shipping costs were almost an afterthought. However, in today’s economy, they must be prominently figured into every project estimate. Let your vendor know specifically where your buildings will need to be delivered—specific details are especially important if the order is to be shipped internationally. This information and any other information you're aware of that would be useful or could otherwise impede transport (road widths, bridge heights, site logistics, etc.) will help ensure a seamless delivery.

6. When does the project need to be completed?
You might be surprised to learn just how much flexibility there is when it comes to delivery timelines from one customer to the next, which means it’s important to be as clear and as specific as possible about when you need your project delivered. This transparency is crucial when working with a company like CoverSix since virtually everything we do is custom, and it all comes down to manufacturing and transportation timelines.

Getting Estimates for Your Next Modular Construction Project

So, there you have it, a six-step checklist you can refer to the next time you request estimates regarding a modular construction project. Follow it, and you’ll get the accurate, reliable, and up-to-date estimates you need to stay on budget, get the finished product that meets your needs, and avoid countless headaches along the way.

Contact us to learn more about the modular buildings available from CoverSix, or to get an estimate, contact us today.

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