Unfortunately, construction is a complex and challenging field. It is loaded with calculations, formulas, and estimates. Therefore, anyone can get confused.

Let’s take an example! You are going to bake a birthday cake tonight because it is your mama’s birthday tomorrow. She would like your surprise at midnight. Well, how will you bake it?

You will visit the market, buy all the ingredients, take the proper quantities, and then start baking. But before that, you set the budget because you know a little up or down can disturb your pocket money. Right? It shows you will follow an organized plan to surprise your mother with a beautiful cake.

Pre-planning is crucial in the construction industry, too. It is essential to arrange all the ingredients (construction materials) first when you are going to construct a house. It is mandatory to give your construction project perfect execution.

But before you purchase construction materials, you must have a good budget plan, which is called construction material estimates in the language of estimators. Let’s move on with the following words to comprehend how to estimate building materials for home construction!

Key Takeaways: Estimating Construction Materials

Unlike the manual method, digital building material estimating helps you avoid many potential human errors.

Lumber, concrete, wall sheathing, flooring, and roofing are the primary construction materials with different formulas for cost calculation.

Unit pricing, the square foot method, and the rule of two are the most valuable material estimating methods.

100% accuracy and precision are essential in material budget estimates for enjoying different projects and business perks.

Complex project scope, market rate fluctuations, integration of technology, and many more can significantly affect the accuracy of material budget estimates.

Construction Project Complexity, Time Management, Budget Control, Limited Reach to Technology, Lack of Authentic Data, and Market Competition are challenging factors.

Manual Vs Digital Building Materials Estimation

The two main types of construction material estimation are manual and digital. Let’s explore the difference between both!

Manual estimation is like kneading the dough with hands—more energy consumption, more time-consuming, and more tiring. However, digital building material estimation is like using a machine for kneading the dough—energy-saving, time-saving, and simple.

Furthermore, digital construction material budget estimation is also better in terms of accuracy and precision. Making mistakes is in human nature, but software cannot do so. Simply put, you can get 100% precise and accurate budget estimates using the digital estimating method.

So, going with the digital estimating method is a good option for contractors and estimators.

How to Calculate the Construction Material Estimates Per Square Foot

Considering material requirements is challenging. Therefore, more than 50% of contractors find it difficult and hit inaccuracy. Don’t worry because the job is complex for professional and highly experienced Construction estimators, too. Well, let’s figure out the effective technique!

1. Measure Construction Materials Requirements

Measure the square footage of the surface or area under construction by using the rule of thumb and getting the round value.

Tip: Add some additional square footage to manage unexpected surface considerations such as cracking, porosity, pitting, and spalling.) Going with the 10% rule is okay.

How do I calculate the Area Total Square Feet?

Measure the area length and width by using measuring tape or laser tape.

Round of the values for easy calculation.

Now, use the following formula to determine the Area Total Square Feet

Total Area = Length x Width

Tip: If your project is the entire house or a business floor plan, you must consider the outside perimeters for accurate estimates.

2. Identify the Products You Need For a Construction Project

It is essential to consider all materials when playing with system-based products. It is crucial to ensure the project’s success.

If you deal with finishes, consider whether the customer demands a traditional broom finish, decorative flake, stamped texture, or metallic epoxy.

After choosing the system, list the products required for a particular application. Remember to mix the coverage rate and application instructions for quality outcomes. (The coverage rate demonstrates the required quantities for a construction project.).

3. Work On Material Takeoffs

Now, you have area per square foot, products, and coverage rate. Now, you have to calculate accurate quantities of materials.

Follow the below formula for material quantification:

Square Feet of Area ÷ Coverage Rate = Quantity of Bags or Gallons

Example:

Data

Stamp Overlay System = ¼’’

Coverage Rate: 25 square feet per bag

Requirements

S-1800 Super-Stamp Gray Number of Bags =?

Calculation

1,000 sq. ft. ÷ 25 sq. ft./bag = 40 bags

How to Figure Out S-1710 Liquid Release Agent Requirements in Gallons?

1 gallon of S-1710 Liquid Release Agent can cover 250–300 square feet. Let’s take a coverage rate of 250 square feet. Remember to consider both stamps or skins and Super-Stamp overpayment.

Stamps or skins = 1,000 sq. ft. ÷ 250 sq. ft./gallon = 4 gallons

Total Gallons of S-1710 Liquid Release Agent = 4+4 = 8 gallons

4. Calculate Material Cost

Since you are already going with the additional quantities, the actual cost per square foot will be less than the initial cost of your materials. You can use the remaining materials in the next construction project.

Once you have the cost of all materials, finalize the estimation by determining the total budget required for all construction materials. Use the below formula to calculate the cost per square foot of material:

= Materials total cost / Square footage

Let’s take an example!

$3,060.16 ÷ 1,000 sq. ft. = $3.06/sq. ft.

For the grinding equipment required for 2 days at the rate of $65, the updated total budget will be $3,190.16. Also, the cost per square foot will be $3.19/sq. Ft.

The Basics of Building Materials Required for Home Construction

● Lumber

Contractors use lumber for good insulation in the house. In the lumber world, suppliers deal in board foot units. Let’s see how to calculate the lumber board feet!

The formula is

Board Feet (bf) = Thickness (in) x Width (in) x Length (ft) / 12

Example:

You need a lumber piece of size 4” x 10” x 8’

The calculation will be:

4 x 10 x 8 = 320

320 / 12 = 26.67 board feet

In the end, multiply the value by the local price per board foot.

● Concrete

Construction is an essential building material. It gives structures strength, versatility, and durability. Suppliers sell it in cubic yards. How many cubic yards do you need for your house construction? This can be estimated using the following formula:

Cubic yards of a rectangular pad, beam, or column = Length x Width x Thickness/27

Let’s take an example!

The concrete pad to be poured = 24’ x 12’ x 6”

We can write it as:

24’ x 12’ x .5’ = 144 cubic feet

The results will be

144 / 27 = 5.33 cubic yards of concrete

Now add 10% for waste concrete by multiplying the final value by 1.10.

5.33 x 1.10 = 5.86 cubic yards

Now, multiply the value by the local price per yard!

● Wall Sheathing

Measure the dimensions of drywall or other wall sheathing areas for accurate cost estimation.

Then, follow the below calculation for 1,000 square feet of drywall!

For 4’x’8’ Drywall Sheets

1,000 / 32 = 31.3 (4’x8’ sheets)

For 4’x12’ Drywall Sheets

1,000 / 48 = 20.8 (4’x12’ sheets)

Remember to multiply the number by 1.10 for waste and then multiply the figure with the price per sheet.

● Framing

Now, understand how to estimate the budget for framing! It will help you comprehend the quantities of 2x6s and 2x4s required for framed walls.

Follow the below steps:

Calculate the length of all walls collectively.

Multiply 0.75 by the total length of the feet for 16 inches of center spacing.

Include extra studs for wall openings, wall intersections, and corners.

Calculate the sill plates and top using this formula:

Total Length x 3 / Length of the Boards

Now, multiply the value by 1.15 for waste or extra coverage.

● Roofing

Contractors deal with house roofs using “square” units To determine a roof’s total squares:

Calculate the roof’s total square footage.

Divide the value by 100.

Example

2,000 sq. ft. = 2,000 sq. ft

In the case of Shingled Roofs

Remember, there are different criteria when you deal with shingled roofs.

1 Square = 3 bundles of shingles

Similarly,

4 Squares = 1 roll of tar paper

The calculation will be:

20 x 3 = 60 bundles of shingles

20 / 4 = 5 rolls of tar paper

Consider eaves and rakes to determine the value of the drip edge required. In the end, multiply the value by the price per product.

Basic Methods to Calculate the Building Materials Cost

Before moving on to formulae and calculations, you must pass through the simple method for estimating the construction material budget. It is a simple, two-step method.

1. Initiate From Bottom

Mostly, contractors start construction from the ground. Therefore, it is better to consider the cost of the cost of grounding materials cost first during estimation.

First, decide whether you want to go with square footage or cubic yards.

Then determine them by multiplying the height, width, and length. (The information can be used to determine the concrete requirements.).

After measurements, shift to the materials required for framing.

Then, convert the length of feet into inches to get material rates for two-by-fours. Use this formula to do so:

Length in inches = Length in feet X 12

Now, determine how many two-by-fours are required for your construction project framing using this formula:

Required quantity of two-by-fours = Length in inches / 16

Note: The same method can be used for calculating materials costs of sheathing and drywall. Remember to consider four-by-eight when you calculate material estimates for drywall, plywood, or paneling.

2. Shift to Exterior

Once you are done with grounding, shift your attention to the exterior. Your construction project requires materials for roofing and decking. Right?

You can determine your requirements by measuring the square footage or the total area of the roof.

Follow the process given below!

Determine the roof width and multiply the value by the total length.

After dimensions, divide the number by the square footage of a single square of plywood or shingles.

Suggestion: Ensure accurate material cost estimation to avoid financial crises during the construction phase!

Unit Pricing, The Square Foot Method, and The Rule of Two

You have understood that manual estimating is time-consuming. However, you can speed up the materials cost estimation process using three approaches- Unit Pricing, The Square Foot Method, and The Rule of Two.

● Unit Pricing

Unit pricing is like determining the material price per product unit. You can perform this job by using historical data to calculate the material cost of a specific construction task, like painting, drywall, and flooring.

Let’s create your own unit pricing construction materials estimator for a drywall project!

Determine the cost of drywall materials considering the expense of drywall sheet, tap, mud, sandpaper, knife, and blades.

After material costs, divide the value by the total square footage of the drywall job.

Here is your drywall materials’ average price per square foot.

Example:

Data

Supposed value = $1 per square foot

The dimension for the drywall job to be done = 1,200 square foot

Calculation

Basic material costs = 1,200 x $1 = $ 1,200

● The Square Foot Method

If you are in a hurry to bid on a new construction project, you must calculate construction material estimates by using the square foot method.

Its process is given below:

Consider your recent building projects as samples.

Calculate the total contract price and divide the value by the square footage.

Here you have the cost per square footage for each construction project. Look at the below!

Project

Final Building Cost

Square Footage

Cost / Square Foot

Residential duplex

$325,324

2.945

$110,47

2 story residential house

$272,468

2,404

$113,34

4 units apartment building

$443,302

4,322

$102,57

Example:

Data

Total cost per square foot = $102-113/sq. Ft

Calculation

Material cost estimates = Total square footage x Average price per square foot

● The Rule of Two

Do you want to split your construction costs equally between building materials and labor? Choose the rule of two estimating methods!

Example:

Data

Total price for new flooring = $10,000

Calculation

= Total price for new flooring / 2

= $10,000 /2

= $5,000

Results

Both labor and materials will have $5,000 separately.

Note: A 50/50 ratio can go exactly for labor and materials. There can be some variations in their spending on the type of construction job. However, for large construction projects, you can easily hit 49/51 or other values closer to 50/50.

If you are an experienced contractor and know how long and how much a particular construction project takes, you can calculate the value without manual calculations. Just, multiply the value by 2 and get the project’s total budget!

Example:

Data:

Required labor = 5

Project duration = 7 days

Average pay per day = $1800

Calculations

The total labor expense = 5 x 7 x 1800 = $63,000

Construction job estimate = $63,000 x 2 = $126,000

What Is Essential in Material Estimation?

Whatever the construction project you deal with, remember that material estimation demands 100% precision and accuracy. Without it, you can experience multiple issues during construction, such as financial crises, and labor or material shortages.

Benefits Of Accurate and Precise Materials Estimates for Contractors

Increased profit margins

Quality proposals

90%+ bid-win ratio

Higher customer satisfaction

Strong portfolio

20% business growth

Factors That Can Affect the Building Materials Estimates Accuracy

You have understood how and why accuracy is essential in construction material estimates. But, you can only achieve a good accuracy ratio by understanding the factors that can affect the accuracy of calculations. These are given below!

● Complex Project Scope & Specifications

The time has gone by since construction was simple, and people went with simple and standard structures. Today, the construction industry has reached sky-highs regarding modernism and innovative structures. Therefore, constructors and builders mostly encounter complex project scopes and specifications.

However, the actual problem occurs when one calculates the complex project budget. It demands a thoroughly tailored estimating assessment for 100% accuracy of budget values. So, project complexities and unique features can also shake the accuracy of material estimates.

● Market Rates Fluctuations

Inflation was quite low before COVID-19. However, nowadays, construction material rates change regularly. So, if you are calculating the construction material budget, ensure you have data according to current market rates. Otherwise, you can experience multiple issues during construction, such as labor shortages due to the inaccuracy of estimates.

● Integration of Technology

Undoubtedly, the construction industry is developing with technology and innovations. But, still, there is a problem. Mostly, contractors make this mistake. They choose the wrong tools or software for the particular task during material estimation. It leads to nothing except inaccuracies.

So, if you are one of them, do the complete research and consult professionals before using any digital software during estimation. A wrong choice can lead to estimating values inaccuracy.

● Collaboration and Communication

Poor collaboration and lack of communication can lead to inaccuracy of estimates. The inaccuracy rate was low in the old times when there was no digital software for data transfer. Human error chances were quite high.

But today, we have modern tools to communicate and collaborate with the team efficiently. The chances of human errors have reduced to a large extent. Therefore, one must take care of effective collaboration and communication to ensure 100% accuracy of material estimates.

● Risk Assessment and Contingency Planning

Many contractors ignore these factors from scratch without knowing their importance for the accuracy of estimates. Construction projects can encounter many unforeseen circumstances, such as bad weather conditions, government blocks, and labor or material shortages.

Risk assessment and contingency planning are essential to dealing with unexpected expenses. So if you ignore them, they can significantly affect the accuracy of your material estimates.

Challenges You Can Experience When Estimating Building Materials

Besides accuracy-affecting factors, contractors and estimators can experience multiple challenges when estimating the material cost. These are discussed below:

● Construction Project Complexity

Modernism and technology have changed the way of construction. Now, everyone wants structures that are unique and rare. Contractors experience challenges in dealing with such building projects, and estimators face challenges during budget estimation of these projects.

● Time Management

Time and money carry equal worth in the construction industry. For example, a little delay in the bid submission can cause failure. Unfortunately, it is also the most challenging factor to manage during construction.

Any unforeseen situation occurs and disturbs the whole construction schedule. Therefore, contractors and estimators keep an eye on this factor and try to cover things within the desired time boundaries.

● Budget Control

According to a study, 98% of contractors experience budget overruns when dealing with a construction project. It only occurs when there are gaps and mistakes in your budget estimates. It means you can monitor and control your budget by estimating the material cost accurately. It will help you complete your task without crossing the budget limitations.

● Limited Reach to Technology

Many tools and software are available on the digital side to streamline your materials construction by calculating accurate estimates. Unfortunately, they are out of access from the reach of many contractors and estimators. So, it is also one of the most prominent challenges you can experience when calculating a construction project materials budget.

● Lack of Authentic Data

Authentic data is essential for accurate estimating results. Unfortunately, contractors experience difficulties in getting authentic information for material estimates.

But, you can solve this issue by hiring professional estimators from a reliable company, such as USA Estimator. The team will equip you with valuable data and information for quality decision-making at the right time.

● Competition

The competition rate is too high in the construction industry. According to the 3rd of March, 2023 report, there were 745,00 construction companies in the US. Undoubtedly, standing out from these is challenging. But you can accomplish your business goal by getting assistance from professional estimators.

Tips For Crafting Accurate Building Materials Estimates

Remember, there is always a solution to a problem. So don’t shake and stop worrying about the construction material estimating changes. Below are some pro tips that can help you bypass all these challenges like a pro.

Understand the construction project’s nature and features before the estimation.

Visit the site to check soil conditions & other factors.

Consider all the materials, whether highly essential or least, during the quantity takeoff assessment.

Take any previous successful project as a sample, but it must be similar to the current one.

Integrate technology perfectly to thrive in the field of material estimation.

Factor in labor, material, and equipment costs in budget evaluation.

Never forget to consider contingencies and overhead expenses in estimation.

Close deals with subcontractors early and add their expenses to the sheet timely.

Get material estimation services for estimators to ensure your projects win.

Conclusion

Estimating the cost of construction materials is essential to avoid hundreds of issues during the construction phase. You don’t need to worry about how to estimate building materials for home construction. It has become easy due to advancement and technology.

Above all, you have the help of professional estimators to deal with all the challenges you encounter while estimating the home construction material budget. Let’s start your house construction with accurate material estimates today!

Faqs:

How do you estimate construction materials?

You can follow one of the three methods to estimate the construction materials:

Unit Pricing

The Square Foot Method

The Rule of Two

Besides, we have mentioned the basic method in the blog. Explore it and fetch calculations confidently.

Why is accurate material estimation essential for home construction projects?

Accurate material estimation is essential for home construction projects due to the following reasons:

Effective project planning

Good budget control

Perfect time management

Excellent resource allocation

Accomplishment of activities efficiently

Competitive bidding

Risk mitigation and management

Client satisfaction

Higher profit margins

Business growth

What are some common mistakes to avoid when estimating a building materials budget?

Following are some common mistakes you must avoid when estimating a building material budget:

Going with confusing building designs

Not visiting the construction site before the budget estimation

Hitting inaccurate measurements and takeoffs

Not updating data regularly

Not accepting technology

Making baseless conceptions

Rough labor cost

Lack of communication

Taking shortcuts to save time

Old or wrong materials and equipment rates

Ignoring risk assessment

How do I factor in future price fluctuations when estimating material costs?

You are unaware of future price fluctuations that may occur during the construction phase. Right? You can factor in this cost in the form of contingencies. It will cover the sudden expenses that may arise during construction.

How do I account for variations in surface conditions when estimating materials?

It is essential to visit the site before initiating material cost estimation. When you visit the site, observe the condition and note all the points. Then, consider these points attentively when creating a takeoff sheet. Besides, a contingency quota can also cover the cost of surface condition variations.

It is Robert Taylor, an experienced civil engineer by profession. I teach students studying in the engineering field and offer estimating services to contractors. In my spare time, I love to spend time exploring innovations and technologies in the construction sector. I am a good influencer too.

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