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Introduction to Construction Cost Estimating

Acquire the skills to become a construction cost estimator.

There are three major components of construction cost estimating, scope, cost, and schedule. Changes made to any of these components will effect the other two. Construction cost estimates are crucial to the success of  any construction project.

Students will acquire the fundamental skills to read construction plans, images, symbols, and project specifications required to develop a construction estimate and ultimately for the financial success of any construction project. Construction Cost Estimating is the creation of estimates on which on all construction contracts are based.  Understanding the fundamental manner in which these estimates are built is critical to the success of any construction project and the ultimate confidence in the outcome of the project.  All projects are based on agreed documents, and interpretation of the symbols and information within the documents is the responsibility of a project’s estimator or estimating team.  Estimators work to convert information in project documents into the needed data in the estimate to create the basis of the financial management and ultimate success of the project.


Understanding construction plans, images, symbols, and project specifications is a fundamental skill for the development of a construction estimate and ultimately for the financial success of any construction project.  In this course, students will learn skills to understand construction documents including plans and specifications and learn industry standards for quantity take off across multiple materials. 

Construction cost estimates are founded on work breakdown structures following CSI MasterFormat.  All plans and specifications follow drawing standards which are covered in this course.

Course Topics:

  • Work between Civil, Landscaping, Structural, Architectural, Mechanical, Plumbing, Electrical and Fire Sprinkler plans for a complete understanding of the assembly of a structure in multiple views (plan, section, detail, elevation)
  • Visually comprehend the “real world” photograph view of each component in construction projects and the relationship between the real world and the plans and specifications
  • How to read and understand construction drawings, how to interpret information conveyed on drawings, how to perform quantity take offs of materials on construction drawings, and how to create work break down structures to assemble cost estimates following CSI MasterFormat.

Course Learning Outcomes:

  • Demonstrate capability to interpret construction documents
  • Locate WBS assemblies
  • Perform quantity take offs across multiple materials in construction projects

Course Typically Offered: Online every summer and winter

Prerequisite: Before enrolling in this course, students should have completed College Algebra and College Geometry, or equivalent courses.

Next Step: After completing this course, consider taking EE-40197 Sustainable Design and Construction to continue learning.

Note: Certifications in cost estimating are available through AACE, the Association for the Advancement of Cost Engineering. Students will learn valuable, introductory skills in this course to build a foundation for this certification if desired. 

Course Number: EE-40196
Credit: 3.00 unit(s)