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Becoming a Construction Estimator: Performing Quality Site Due Diligence

Part 1: Taking Quality Digital Pictures

Are you working in the field as a construction employee? Are you looking for opportunities to move from a field job to an office job? Many see the transition from a field construction employee to an office position in management or sales as their next natural step as they grow in their profession. For you, this transition into management or a sales role is a natural next step.

If you are interested in moving from the field into the office, there are many different areas of knowledge, skills and abilities that those you need to begin to understand and master in order to make that transition easier. If you are looking to impress your boss or supervisor, you should work to build your skills in these areas so that you can show your employer that you have invested in yourself and are ready for that move. If you have knowledge, skills and abilities that make you more valuable to your employer you will find that you have a better chance to be chosen when a new position opens up.

Recording Findings from Site Due Diligence – Taking Photos of Project Sites

Due diligence is the act of collecting information on and about a potential project site. This information is key information that may have an effect on a construction estimate or proposal that your company is putting together for a potential project. Information can be gathered and recorded in a variety of ways, including digital photos, digital videos, drawings and other methods. As you gather information as an estimator, you need to record it so that it can be accessed throughout the development of the bid or estimate.

Without the correct information, your or a construction estimator at your company may not have the key information he or she may need in order to develop a competitive bid for a project. The information can be used to develop bids, submit proposals and win project awards. Following a project award, the information can be used to manage the construction project as the project progresses. Information has also been used to defend construction companies in the unlikely event that litigation occurs following the completion of the project.

A key role in bidding and estimating projects is the due diligence process. Building your skills in being able to assess potential project sites improves your value to your company. Being able to record that information through the use of digital cameras and convey that information back to your supervisor or manager will improve your position with your company and within the industry.

3 Steps for Improving Your Project Photos

1. Frame Your Image

When you take your pictures, take them at three levels. First, take your image of the problem that you have identified. This is a close-up image that shows the problem that you are attempting to identify. Second, take an image that shows a point of reference for the first image. If you are on a roof system, take an image of the immediate area where the problem is located, stepping back from the close-up. Finally, take an overview of the area to show where the problem is located.

2. Scale Your Image

When you take pictures, you may realize how large the problem is but without something to scale the image others will not know how large the problem is. Some have used a pen or the tip of their key to give a point of reference for size. This also allows you to be able to focus someone else on the issue that you took the picture of. It keeps others eyes from wandering and focuses them on the problem that the picture was attempting to communicate

3. Take Elevation Photos

A key to taking quality images is to take overall images of your site including staging areas and access areas. Also, when you take images of problems identified with buildings it is critical that you take images that show the overall elevations to allow for perspective on where the problem is located on the building exterior. If you have found a problem that is associated with window glazing, but fail to take an image of the window at the third floor the estimator may not catch that this is an issue.

You have heard the saying that pictures are worth a thousand words. In construction, pictures can be worth thousands of dollars. They can help convey information during the hand-off from you completing the due diligence to an estimator or from you estimating to a project crew attempting to complete your scope of work. Getting the right information handed off from one team member to the next is critical in creating a smooth construction project. The better you are at getting good information from a project site and using that information to build competitive bids and sales opportunities for your organization, the more valuable you will be to your employer.

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