The term “estimate” refers to the estimated cost of a project. Typically, it is obtained to determine how much money would be needed for a certain project. And when it comes to construction cost estimates – there are various types of construction estimates.

Estimates of construction costs may be made in two ways: either exhaustively, taking into account every possible variable (known as a detailed estimate), or approximatively, with less attention paid to specifics.

In other words, what exactly is a project cost estimate?

The purpose of a project estimate is to analyze and anticipate the total cost of a project (Project budget). Project choices, such as whether or not to undertake the project and how long it could take to finish, can be aided by cost estimates. Estimates for how much money will be needed to complete any project help control expenses and resources.

5 Types of Estimates in Construction

It’s essential to consider both the nature of your job and your company’s past practices when deciding the construction cost estimate.

You may learn more about the many types of construction estimates and how to handle them properly by reading more about those specific types.

However, it’s essential to constantly think about how you estimate construction projects and how you might improve your estimates.

Detailed Estimates

The term “detailed estimate” refers to a cost estimate that breaks down the total project cost into individual line items or categories of work. These estimates are also known as accurate estimates. Detailed Estimates are used to calculate the expected effort and materials for a specific project. A comprehensive cost estimate may also be used to see whether the project is financially feasible.

A comprehensive estimate may also be used as part of a proposal or presentation to win over potential investors. To convince a customer or investor to back your concept, you should be prepared to show them how much money it may cost.

This cost estimate includes specifics like price, amount, rate, an itemized list of needs, etc. As a rough estimate of the budget, it is crucial. It sheds light on whether or not he needs further funding, which is helpful. The following details are included in a comprehensive quote:

  • Detailed explanations of all rates used in the price calculation
  • Details of a Project
  • Plans depicting the whole the work area
  • Building Drawings such as Plan, Elevation, and Section


Consider an example where John wants to construct a small security cabin outside his bungalow. Now when a contractor carries out all the calculations, such as taking the current market rate and labor charges and multiplying it with the drawing received from John and preparing one Estimate, which is known as a Detailed Estimate.

Send Detailed Yet Winning Business Estimates Online

Moon Invoice helps you design quick business estimates using readymade templates. Converting estimates to invoices is again a one-click job!

Sign Up Today!

Preliminary Estimates

This is an approximate estimate to help the relevant authorities examine the financial component of the project to provide approval for it.

The preliminary estimate is formed by comparing the going rates of comparable works and drawing on firsthand experience in various methods, depending on the nature of the task.

These construction estimates are performed to determine how much money a project will cost overall. The information helps set the price of the contract. A screening estimate is an estimate obtained at a very early stage. The data used comes from completed initiatives in the past.


Say a homeowner hires a contractor to construct a backyard for them. A few months before, he had erected a comparable backyard, and he planned to utilize the expenses from that job to estimate the current one. That is how preliminary estimates are made.

Quantity Estimate

When estimating the number of resources needed to finish a project, this kind of estimate is known as a “quantity estimate.” It lists the exact quantities and prices of everything that must be purchased. It is the gold standard for cost estimates in the building industry. It helps to derive the direct construction cost of the project.

Project costs are estimated by multiplying the total units by the unit costs. You may get a general idea of how much anything will cost by multiplying its size on the project drawings by its hourly rate.


A Carpenter, for instance, may be hired to redo an entire home’s interior. He is familiar with the standard rate of $10 per square foot for interior work surfaces. It’s a 100,000-square-foot home. An estimate of $1000,000 is based on a square-foot cost of $10.

Bid Estimate

An estimate is presented as a bid to win a customer over for a project. According to research conducted at Carnegie Mellon University, this pricing strategy considers the contractor’s experience and the fact that the contractor wants to win the job and intends to provide the lowest possible estimate.

A bid estimate may require extensive labor by the general contractor, but only if he/she is certain, he will be awarded the contract. If not, he’s just wasting his time.

Bid estimates may be created from the client’s submitted plans or research into typical market rates. To get more precise figures, the contractor must determine individual labor, materials, and equipment expenses.


For instance, the client may engage a landscaper to rework the customer’s backyard. He calculates the amount for the bid using his hourly rate and the cost of the materials. The gardener will charge his regular hourly fee ($30) for 20 hours of labor. To beat out a rival, he charges less than his standard markup for his materials with the help of a bid estimate.

Cost Estimates

There are three distinct varieties of cost estimates, distinguished by the nature of the data employed in the building costs estimation.

Historical Estimate

A historical estimate is based on comparable projects of the past. Typically, it is used in domestic construction. It could be more precise and is beginning when there isn’t much more to go on.

Parametric Estimate

A parametric estimation calculates the total estimate by multiplying the standard per-unit rate by the dimensions. It’s an improvement above previous estimates.

Bottom-up Estimate

The contractor estimates the simplest tasks in a bottom-up estimate and then adds the price for the more difficult ones. In this case, we evaluate the cost of each service independently. As a result, one can acquire a precise idea of the price. This construction estimation is labor-intensive and should be utilized only when complete data is available.


To illustrate, Mr. John plans to construct a garage room around his outside space. There are two parts to this project:

  • Build Core Garage Room
  • Other Accessories such as Door – Window etc.

Your room has to be 100 square feet. Thus, you’ll need material accordingly. You go to a neighborhood business and are quoted thirty rupees (Rs.) per square foot. Therefore, the total is Rs. 3000.

A parametric estimate describes this kind of estimation.

Types of Cost Estimates in Project Management

Several variables affect the process by which project managers arrive at an estimate of costs. For instance, some businesses mandate that all projects adhere to strict budgeting procedures, while others may defer to the project manager’s judgment. Similarly, many companies may rely on broad estimations during the first phases of project planning before refining to more precise figures later.

In the following sections, we will examine three of the most often-used methods for cost estimating.

Parametric Estimating

Parametric estimate involves using past data and statistical modeling to put a price tag on unknown aspects of a project. This method calculates the actual unit cost of a project’s parts and then uses those numbers to guide the pricing of those parts. However, it needs more information upfront than comparable estimating to provide an appropriate cost estimate.


When calculating building costs, parametric methods are often utilized. For instance, a seasoned construction manager may know that the going rate per square foot for brand-new houses is 10,000. (assuming a particular margin of error).

By using parametric estimating, they may determine a price for a new project that should be within the given range based on the known average cost, error margin, and total square footage. The production of a book or technological item needs estimates of its unit costs.

Analogous Estimating

The term “analogous estimating” refers to a method through which a project manager might estimate a project’s budget by looking at the actual expenses incurred on a previously completed project of a similar kind. For these estimations, the project manager draws on both past data and their own professional experience.


Let’s say, for example, client commissions you to produce promotional videos for their latest shawl collection. Because this is the first time the company is putting their videos on the market, the best way to figure out how much money you’ll need is to look for a similar project that has already been completed.

A rough estimate of the cost would be $8,000 if you found out that a similar job was completed three months ago using a different product.

It is up to your discretion as an expert or your familiarity with similar projects to determine if the data you pull from the past is relevant to your current endeavor when using a similar estimation technique.

Bottom-up Estimates

Bottom-up estimation involves dissecting a more extensive construction project into its constituent parts. Following this, the project manager generates cost estimates for each sub-task. For example, expenses may be divided by division if the project requires participation from many divisions within the same company. The final cost estimate for the project is calculated by adding together all the individual cost estimates.

Bottom-up estimating provides a more precise estimate process, enabling the project manager to examine subtasks in more detail.


Estimation work in construction is a hybrid of art and science. Skill is essential when facts and science aren’t an option, even if science and actual data are usually the best and most accurate bet.

Successful estimating requires knowledge of the many construction cost estimation methods available to you and your business.

An accurate estimate may be the difference between making and losing money on a single project, and consistent appraisals over time lead to a solid corporate foundation.

Explore additional resources on estimating if this is a problem area for you. To prepare various types of estimates, including unit prices and with consideration of actual costs, operating cost, etc. Try Project Estimation Software Like Moon Invoice!

With Moon Invoice, You can create project estimates, not only project estimates, You can convert them directly into invoices with minor modifications if you like.
Get a free trial Now!


Jayanti Katariya
Jayanti Katariya About the author

Jayanti Katariya is the founder & CEO of Moon Invoice, with over a decade of experience in developing SaaS products and the fintech industry. He holds a degree in engineering. Since 2011, Jayanti's expertise has helped thousands of businesses, from small startups to large enterprises, streamline invoicing, estimation, and accounting operations. His vision is to deliver top-tier financial solutions globally, ensuring efficient financial management for all business owners.