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Why Do Preliminary Estimates Play In The Construction Industry

preliminary estimates

I believe this is the test of time, which is always a good thing. By considering the challenges you will face, your preliminary estimates become more profound. Market conditions are a no-brainer. I mean, the price does fluctuate. This causes the availability of materials to increase or decrease. Let’s say you are using lumber estimating services and find that the cost of lumber in the state is costlier than its sister state. The central aspect you will determine is that the demand for lumber in the state is higher than in the sister state. You must consider this if you want your preliminary estimates to mean something to you.


Lastly, the main factor to consider for a preliminary estimate is the contingency factor. CSI Estimation always accounts for contingencies in all of our estimates. We believe things can go wrong instantly, and being ready for them is better than not being prepared. Risk mitigation is one thing, but what about the consequences that come with it? CSI Estimation has already created a contingency before they put a dent in your financial capital. So, if it ever comes to pass, you are prepared.

Do Preliminary Estimates Have The Potential To Be Wrong?

While preliminary estimates are an essential part of your construction project, they have a great potential to become inaccurate. See, I told you. Unlike our precise estimation and takeoff solutions, preliminary estimates can be duds. Here are the limitations to a preliminary estimate:

Incomplete Work

A preliminary estimate is an initial approximation of a particular value or quantity that is based on incomplete or limited data. These are perfect for construction clients who still require complete spec sheets or blueprints. I believe this is a great way, as accuracy is on point. You take a ballpark number and create an estimate with it. Before more information about the construction project becomes available, this is the most astute answer to estimating a project. For complete blueprints and sketches, clients can use our takeoff and construction estimation services. Preliminary estimates provide a broad understanding of the cost, time, and resources required for the project.

 They also help you make well-informed decisions about your construction project. Preliminary estimate main content resolves around development, planning and financial appraisals. CSI Estimation uses preliminary estimates to create a baseline for the project. It outlines its scope, budget, feasibility reports, risk mitigation and timeline. In my book, all five are essential to be certain you want to continue with your construction project.

Importance Of Preliminary Estimates:

Importance Of Preliminary Estimates

I think going for the complete construction estimation is better in my opinion. This makes doing one job twice. Preliminary estimates are critical in planning and decision-making. That is a nice joke. If you already have incomplete data, the results will also be incomplete. But still, something is better than nothing. Here are some reasons why preliminary estimates are significant:


Preliminary estimates establish a baseline for the construction project. It outlines the project scope, budget, and timeline. Project scope is a list of all trades that will help complete the construction project. Budget is your financial constraint, and timeline is the time it takes. All these combine to form a feasibility report.

Potential Issues

Preliminary estimates help identify any potential issues in the project. You can start developing strategies for either solving them or mitigating them. Risk aversion is also good if you don’t have zero contingency planning. I prefer building a safety net instead. This way, your finances are secure, and with damage control, you can raise your head in the face of misery.


Preliminary estimates guide you to make an informed decision. Anything else is just hearsay. Basically, you get a handle on managing the tasks at hand. Hard choices are always challenging to make. With this estimate, you experience what leading from the front feels like. This saves time and money as you stop making costly mistakes.


The primary purpose of CSI preliminary estimates is to ensure that all construction projects have a sense of direction. They are completed with budget parameters and on schedule. Furthermore, preliminary estimates help bring owners confidence and peace of mind.

Are Preliminary Estimates Any Good?

Overall, Preliminary estimates are an easy way to calculate construction project costs. I should be the first one to admit I was wrong about preliminary estimates. After carefully reviewing the source material, preliminary estimates can help clients understand what it will cost for their projects and their required timeframe. Of course, the construction estimates and takeoff solution will give a more precise answer. This is just the tip of the iceberg. This is an excellent option compared to every cost estimation company’s free quote. For me, anything free is a farce. If I am going to pay thousands of dollars for a project, I might spend hundreds of dollars for the estimation.

Proper Utility Of A Preliminary Estimate?

Now, we move on to the example of what preliminary estimates are good for. I believe the best course for these is the construction industry. I may be wrong, but at this juncture, I am not. Here are some examples where preliminary estimates can be utilized:

  • Construction buildings
  • Renovation & Remodeling
  • Bridge Construction
  • Landscaping
  • Site Work

CSI preliminary estimates cater to all construction projects irrespective of shape or size. We want to meet client expectations by offering them solutions that matter. If you pay for the service, you might get what you want. Unlike other cost estimation companies, we don’t like to sugarcoat. It is better in our book to say what is justified. We believe that wasting your time is a fool’s errand. We want to make money. You intend to make money. Capitalism wins.

What Are The Benefits Of Preliminary Estimates?

Now, that is a million-dollar question. To answer it candidly it gives you an idea of what might be the cost of your construction project. Here idea is inkling. But if you wish to know the actual cost, the takeoff solutions are the way to go. This will define your project scope and help calculate the project’s total cost. So, with further ado, here are all the benefits you might receive if you use a preliminary estimate for your construction project:

Accuracy And Decisions

Accuracy will be improved. Remember, you have incomplete data, so accuracy will only be on par with the information. Once you complete your blueprints and spec sheet, your accuracy will have pinpoint precision. It’s just like a tomahawk missile or a bunker buster. You can use accuracy to reduce your risks and any undue cost overruns in decision-making. Yes, it helps you make better decisions. To tell you the truth, the main focus of a preliminary estimate is to give you an idea of the cost. What you do with that information is up to you.

But before getting this information, you were busy mothballing. CSI Estimation believes preliminary estimates are better than guesswork or prediction. They never come to pass. I mean, since MJ left the Bulls in 99, have they won a championship? Nope. So, we believe in facts and work on them. That is why clients prefer us. We cut away with BS and get to the main work.

Open Communication

The other thing you can significantly benefit from a preliminary estimate is the open communication you will receive. By developing a baseline, you can set a common goal for your team to perform to complete your construction project. We are working for the greater good. Just like the Avengers did, coming to the point at hand, communication with the help of collaboration improves your chances of completing the project. So, no delays. I considered using a C&C reference, but many people never get it.

Resource Allocation

Lastly, the main benefit of using a preliminary estimate is the better usage of resources. With the preliminary estimate, outline what you require for the project. You can start the procurement process. Keep in mind that you have incomplete blueprints and spec sheets. So, the only things you can begin to work on which are complete. Unless those blueprints finally get ready, please do not procure materials. You will lose money, and disposing of them will be a hassle. Please take my word for it. I worked with a recycling company, and state fines are hard. So why waste the resources? I would suggest using the CSI Takeoff solution to fully allocate your resources.

Are Preliminary Estimates Limited By Their Use?

Preliminary estimates are a fantastic way to calculate the cost of the project. These are no longer called rough estimates since we have performed work on them. Even the ballpark number sounds shady. Preliminary estimates are like pre-ordering something that has not come to the shelf. Once it does, you can decide if your investment is good or bad. The primary query that many clients always ask me is what factors need to be considered when using a preliminary estimate. Well, here are some:

Scope Of The Project

The project’s scope is the main factor to consider when using a preliminary estimate. This includes the objectives, deliverables, and timeline. Fully understanding the whole project is better than having none. This is a critical step before utilizing your resources. The other thing you need to consider is the historical data. Now, as a client, you may not have access to that.

But CSI Estimation does. By working on countless projects, we have a claim about the cost of your construction project since most of them use the same templates. Unless you are building a Dyson sphere. With historical data, clients can quickly get estimates for the quantity and cost of each construction project trade.

Standards, Market Conditions And Limitations

The following two factors to consider when utilizing a preliminary estimate are following industry standards. They lay a foundation for completing a project while adhering to the safety guidelines. A safe and secure workplace is what you desire if you want zero delays. These are critical for a proper preliminary estimate. The following important factors to consider are market conditions and project limitations. Every project is unique and comes with its set of challenges that you will require to overcome.

Preliminary estimates are based on incomplete information. The estimate created will not be as accurate as you believe. That is why I keep telling you to complete your plans and spec sheets if you want to get pinpoint precision in your construction estimations. You will also come to know that preliminary estimates are assumptions. They define the scope, resource requirements, and timeline. Instead of giving you a number, they provide you with a range. This means you are not sure if the cost will decrease or increase. This range can put you off course. This way, the scope of the project never remains the same.

Delays And Loss Of Capital

With the ever changes to the construction project, you will experience delays and lose money. Since you never completed your end of the bargain, you will be prone to human error. This will put a dent in your financial capital, and you will have difficulty recovering from it. That is why I keep retreating about completing your blueprints. Gather as much information as possible before going for a preliminary estimate. Furthermore, the regular updates provided by the estimation company help improve the process.

Final Thoughts

I have been working in the construction industry for so long that my hair on my head has vanished. A preliminary estimate is best suited for small to medium construction projects. Since the scope is small, so are the issues. Using a preliminary estimate for a larger project is not advisable. Still, it can give you a rough estimate of the cost and timeline. As I said before, the choice of how you use the information is yours.

Preliminary estimation is one of many estimation methods that CSI Estimation relies upon. We feel that you deserve all the available options and solutions. We firmly believe that wasting time and money is not part of our nature. And we stand by it. It was an honor and privilege to help you understand what preliminary estimates are. This information is for advisory only. It is high time you start reading the wall.


CSI Estimation is a market leader when it comes to construction estimating services. That is why we employ one of the best content managers to curate content that is relevant to the construction industry. Our authors have years of hands on experience and content published on our website is regularly updated. We believe that readers should get the full picture not half glass full.


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