The Process of Getting an Accurate Estimate

Securing an accurate estimate for your metal fabrication project is not just a routine step—it’s an essential factor that can significantly impact the success of your build. Your fabrication partner relies on the information you provide to formulate a comprehensive estimate, encompassing all the intricate components of your project. 

Achieving precision in this crucial stage requires more than a mere exchange of details; it requires a meticulous and well-thought-out plan. Neglecting this upfront attention may lead to inaccurate, incomplete, or delayed estimates. As you plan your next fabrication project, be proactive. Understand the key elements your fabricator needs from you to deliver an accurate estimate for your project. The journey to a successful metal fabrication project begins with a shared commitment to clarity and precision in the estimation process.

Looking over a quote from fabrication shop.
Accurate Material Costs

A big component of your fabrication project estimate will be the cost of materials, and material costs can be volatile in the current market. It’s important to work with a fabrication shop who has trusted relationships with vetted suppliers. Material costs can fluctuate regularly, so knowing the time frame for the project is also important. A quality metal fabrication shop will be able to estimate the necessary materials from the project drawings and contact their vetted suppliers for the most accurate material costs. By providing your fabrication team with a comprehensive and accurate scope of the full project, they can get the most accurate material costs which will be a major component of the full project estimate.

Full Scope of Work from Accurate Drawings

Accurate and detailed drawings are essential for an accurate estimate. Without comprehensive and specific drawings, a metal fabrication shop will not be able to provide you with an accurate estimate. A sketch of the finished project is not enough to fully estimate your project. While a drawing of the finished build may give the fabrication team an idea of what you’d like, you need to have an engineer prepare a detailed blueprint of the entire project. If your team does not have the right engineers to develop these drawings, many fabrication shops can offer recommendations for where to go for these services during the design and planning stages. The drawings that are necessary for an accurate estimate may include:

  • Assembly Drawings

Assembly drawings are usually a good starting point, but don’t often give the fabrication team the complete information they need. However, starting with an assembly drawing is a good jumping off point.

  • Architectural Drawings

Structural steel projects usually require architectural drawings. Fabricators who have experience with structural steel fabrication will be able to work well with architectural drawings to provide an accurate estimate.

  • 3D or CAD Drawings

Computer generated drawings can give your fabrication team a lot of information, but more information about the materials must be included for the most accurate estimate.

  • Detailed Drawings

The more detail, the better. Detailed drawings are often able to show the project from a variety of angles, with focus on the different components of the project. The more clear you are about dimensions, materials needed, additional concerns, and any other information that is needed for your project, the more accurate your quote will be.

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Consider Finishing Options

While the scope of the design and materials are important to getting an accurate estimate, knowing what you want for your finishing applications is also essential to getting an accurate estimate. Choosing a fabrication shop who can provide the finishing in-house can provide a considerable savings over a fabrication shop who will need to outsource this stage. Knowing your options for finishing (paint, powder coating, plating, or metal treatments) and their benefits can help guide you toward making the right decisions for your project early on and will allow you to work that into the estimate and timeline.

Ensure that Your Estimate Includes Delivery

An accurate estimate should take your project through from fabrication to delivery. Shipping and assembly can make a major impact on the estimate, especially if the logistics are complicated. When getting your estimate, make sure that delivery of the final product is included in the estimate, along with any assembly needs you will have at the end of the project. Without taking the time to account for this stage, you may find that this adds significant cost to your project. 

Good Communication from the Start Ensures an Accurate Estimate

Ultimately, the most accurate estimate will come when communication between you and the fabrication shop is strong. When you are seeking an estimate, talk with the fabrication team about the welding standards you have for your project, the materials necessary, the finishing options you need, and your delivery requirements. Discuss the drawings and information they need from you to provide the most accurate estimate, and make sure to ask questions. If you are working with a quality fabrication shop, they will not be vague in their answers and will involve all the necessary professionals (design engineers, fabricators, suppliers, and finishing team) to get you the most accurate information. When both you and the fabrication shop are committed to strong communication, not only will your estimate be accurate, but the project will run smoothly once it begins.

Getting an accurate estimate for your fabrication project is a collaborative effort between you and your fabrication shop. To discuss the details of your next fabrication project needs, or to get a customized quote, contact Swanton Welding today. 

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