Estimating Materials: How to Account for Price Fluctuations and Sourcing Options.
Updated: Sep 6
Estimating material costs can be a challenging task, especially when dealing with price fluctuations and various sourcing options. Here's a guide for estimators on how to handle material costs effectively:
Research and Data Gathering:
Begin by researching historical price trends for the materials you are estimating. This will give you an idea of the potential price fluctuations that may occur during your project's timeline.
Gather data from reputable sources, such as industry reports, government publications, and material suppliers' websites. Stay up-to-date with the latest market news and economic indicators that could impact material prices.
Use Multiple Price Sources:
Don't rely solely on one supplier's quote or price data. Get quotes from multiple suppliers to compare prices and identify the best deal.
Utilize online platforms that track material prices and provide real-time data. These platforms can offer valuable insights into current market conditions.
Buffer for Price Fluctuations:
Add a contingency or buffer in your cost estimates to account for potential material price fluctuations. The buffer percentage can vary based on the material's volatility and the project's timeline.
Alternative Material Sourcing:
Identify alternative materials that can serve the same purpose but may be less susceptible to price fluctuations. For example, if the price of a certain type of wood increases significantly, you could consider using a different type of wood that meets the project requirements but is more cost-stable.
Explore different suppliers and distributors. Some may offer more competitive prices or discounts, especially for bulk purchases.
Consider entering into long-term agreements with suppliers to lock in prices for a specific duration. This can provide stability in cost estimation and shield you from short-term market fluctuations.
In some cases, it may be possible to hedge against material price fluctuations using financial instruments or forward contracts. This is more common for large-scale projects with substantial material requirements.
Collaborate with Procurement Team:
Work closely with the procurement team to understand their strategies for sourcing materials. Their expertise and insights can be invaluable in finding cost-effective solutions.
Regularly Update Estimates:
Keep your cost estimates dynamic and update them regularly as market conditions change. A static estimate may become inaccurate due to sudden price spikes or drops.
Consider Regional Factors:
Material prices can vary by region due to factors such as transportation costs and availability. Consider these regional differences when estimating material costs for different project locations.
Continuous Learning and Adaptation:
Stay informed about industry trends and best practices for estimating material costs. Continuously adapt your approach based on past experiences and lessons learned.
By following these guidelines and adopting a proactive approach to handling material costs, estimators can mitigate the impact of price fluctuations and ensure cost-effectiveness in their estimates.