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Introduction to Construction Estimating

Learn how to prepare a construction estimate from start to finish from Dr. Kenneth Sands, an expert in the Construction Management field and a university professor in Construction Management.


  • Access to course material for 30 days.
  • Train with a Pro

  • Spanish Subtitles Available

  • Mobile Access

  • 19 In-depth Lessons

  • Certificate of Completion

  • Practical Resources

Lesson Plan

19 Video Lessons · 1H 25M

  • 1. Introduction

    Your instructor—educator and experienced construction management professional Dr. Kenneth Sands—welcomes you to the course and introduces the fundamentals of construction estimation.

  • 2. Construction Estimates and Why They’re Important

    Estimates reflect the material, equipment, and labor costs associated with a construction project, in either an itemized breakdown or summary total. Learn why accurate, well-structured estimates are an indispensable part of the construction process, and what key elements any successful estimate will include.

  • 3. The Art of Estimation

    Though working heavily with numbers and mathematics, estimating also requires fluidity and flexibility. Learn about the kind of savvy and collaborative skills a successful estimator will develop, and how communication, above all, is your most useful tool.

  • 4. Skills Construction Estimators Need

    Estimating blends deep knowledge of the trades and construction industry, mathematical skills, and creativity. Ken explains how you must be able to envision an entire project in your head, interpret information, and collaborate with many different kinds of individuals.

  • 5. Key Tools for a Construction Estimator

    Estimating can be done either electronically or by hand. Ken reviews some essential materials you might need to calculate an estimate, including construction documents, estimating software, and references for material costs.

  • 6. Factors That Drive an Estimate

    Ken walks through a list of variables that drive construction estimates, like a project’s size and scope, site location, labor rates, and more.

  • 7. Types of Construction Estimates

    There are several types of estimates, each of which is used in a different phase of a construction project. Learn about conceptual estimates, preliminary estimates, and detailed estimates, and what each entails.

  • 8. Mapping Estimate Types to Project Phases

    Ken teaches you how the three types of estimates covered in the previous lesson relate to the design stages of a project, and which type of estimate you’ll be able to complete based on the level of detail in the designs.

  • 9. Quantity Takeoff

    Quantity takeoff is the process of defining the amount of work that will be required for a given project. Learn about how quantity takeoff is determined, and which factors go into determining quantity takeoff, such as types of labor and number of hours.

  • 10. Pricing and Scope Alignment

    Ken reviews the various inputs to pricing, like supplier costs, vendor markup, and wage rates. He also gives examples of scope alignment, which ensures all costs included in the contract are accurate, complete, and match up with the subcontractors’ pricing.

  • 11. General Conditions

    Don’t overlook ancillary costs when initially putting together an estimate. Learn about various expenses that may arise on a project like scaffolding, cranes, trailers, and more.

  • 12. Overhead and Profit

    Ken explains overhead—the fee you charge for the support services required to complete a project—and how it pertains to profit.

  • 13. Other Factors to Consider

    Learn about additional factors that go into an estimate, like taxes, shipping and delivery costs, and insurance.

  • 14. Example Estimate

    Ken walks you through the estimating process using a small cottage as the project example.

  • 15. Recommended References

    It’s always helpful to have resources on hand to help you determine costs. Ken reviews two of his preferred resources for the material and labor costs associated with various types of construction work.

  • 16. Updating Your Estimate

    Estimates are rarely one-and-done. Learn about the factors that can affect your estimates and necessitate updates, and how to best navigate the process of updating to ensure a successful bid.

  • 17. Timeline of an Estimate

    The time it takes to complete an estimate is heavily dependent on the nature of the project and your experience as a professional estimator. Ken reviews various scenarios that can lengthen the estimating timeline.

  • 18. Construction Estimator Career Path

    Learn about an estimator’s potential career trajectory, and how professional estimators often come from diverse and varied backgrounds.

  • 19. After You Win a Bid

    Your job doesn’t necessarily end after you’ve won the bid. Ken reviews the various roles you may have to play after you’ve completed your estimate, and how you should be prepared to make updates and remain involved on the project you worked so hard to achieve.

Who it's for: This course is designed for construction professionals looking to learn the basic tools of cost estimating to ensure their project meets the scope requirements, financial cost requirements, and other key factors that are involved in bidding and winning new jobs.

Key Topics

  • How to estimate construction costs

  • Types of estimates

  • Construction estimator career path

  • Resources for material and labor costs

  • Revising estimates

  • Factoring in ancillary costs, overhead, and profit

4.5 Out of
5 stars

Overall rating of 18 students

Become Job Ready

This course will increase your knowledge for jobs like:


Project Manager


Construction Manager






Project Engineer

For more information on these roles, visit our career page.

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> 6 seats
Save $5 per seat
$70 per seat

Common Questions

  • What is MT Copeland?

    MT Copeland helps you further your career in the building industry with expert-led online education that will make you a better, smarter tradesperson.

    Our training courses give you a foundation in construction fundamentals and trade skills with real-world applications and best practices to help you grow on the job.

  • What do courses include?

    Online courses include professionally produced videos taught by leaders in the trades and supplementary learning material such as quizzes, assessments and downloadable materials to help you acquire new skills. Watch anywhere, always at your own pace. We keep lesson videos short so they’re easy to watch after work or on your lunch break. You can finish a course in one sitting, or space it out over a week or two.

  • Can you learn with MT Copeland outside of the u.s.?

    Yes! You can take MT Copeland courses from anywhere in the world. Our courses are online, so if you have access to the Internet, you can watch our training videos. Courses are taught in English, with English captions and Spanish subtitles available.

  • Where did the name MT Copeland come from?

    MT Copeland was named after a legendary educator who promoted the idea that training in a specific trade paired with a knowledge of general business principles opens up a whole new world of career possibilities. We believe in the same powerful combination of skills and knowledge.

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