How To Prepare a Template for Cost Estimating

Create Your Own Template or Try Using Cost Estimating Software

Office girl busy with her paperwork

A cost estimate template is useful when preparing an approximation of the cost that a certain project will incur. With one of these templates prepared, a project, contract or activity can be analyzed if it will be earning a profit and be worth all the time and energy needed for it to succeed, and funds will then be allocated for it.

There are various cost calculators available online that can also do price estimating. You don't need to prepare particular templates for each field like construction, finance, automotive, and even for events like weddings or anniversary celebrations. The main teams or persons who are authoring the project or contract should be the ones to prepare it, together or in collaboration with the team that will be responsible for the implementation of the proposed project.

Preparing a cost estimate can be made easier by having a simple template ready and only adding particular inputs relative to the project or contract at hand that will make it less complicated to prepare. Here are some tips on how to prepare a simple template:

  1. Make a chart intended for posting the project schedule. The chart may be divided into three parts: pre-implementation (of the project), during implementation, and post implementation. This chart is needed as framework for determining the estimated costs for labor and/or rental of equipment. A price or cost estimator will need to know the length of days for the project to give an accurate estimate.
  2. Prepare a table in your template for assessing the labor costs. Include individual columns for items paid by employers like liability, unemployment and worker's compensation, Social Security tax and union benefits. With outsourcing as the trend in business today, you may also add a column for any outsourcing costs that may be made. The cost calculator will add in these variables if they are identified and an estimate can be given.
  3. Add a table for calculating the general overhead and getting a percentage of that to be added to the total cost of the project. The result is a subtotal of costs to which you will calculate your profit share by taking a percentage of it and then adding the percentage back to the subtotal to calculate the total estimate. A price estimator can also compute this.

This simple template can be modified according to the particular characteristics of a project. If the particular project is in construction, the variables in the second table would include rental or purchase of equipment, labor pay for different levels (from engineer, architect, foreman to masons), and other details. The information in construction cost estimating will be different from those in different fields. 

There is also software available online where you just need to fill in the data needed and the software will compute the estimated cost. You may find this software useful because it also covers other techniques. If you would still like to write on a sheet of paper using a price calculator, there are hundreds of free price calculators according to technology or industry available online. Preparing a cost estimate is easy nowadays, making it easier to assess if projects are feasible.


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