How Much Detail Do My Drawings Need for an Accurate Estimate?

Posted by Mark Tschirhart

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It can be tempting to take initial drawings to a fabrication company for an estimate. Perhaps you are looking for a general idea of what a project might cost or you are against a deadline and need to get something for your customer to review.

It’s important to recognize that the accuracy of your fabrication project estimate is only as accurate as the drawings you provide.  For an accurate quote you really should provide as much information as you can, down to the screws you’ll need.  This is why it’s best to provide the fabrication company with final prints and specifications when getting a quote for your fabrication project.

Determining an Accurate Estimate

When you are researching obtaining a quote from a fabrication company it can be tempting to pick up the phone and expect an answer after rattling off a few numbers. This can lead to potential headaches and big trouble down the road for your project.  

The best estimates come from projects where the fabricator and client work together with final drawings.  These final drawings can help an estimator assess the overall project.  Think about how many revisions can happen between getting an estimate and a final drawing. To keep your cost down AND have a correct budget, it’s essential to have final drawings for an accurate assessment and estimate.

Timelines and Planning

It’s no surprise that proper planning leads to a better end product.

Having ample lead time to plan the project build into the fabricator’s production queue will allow them to properly plan for everything on their end.

This includes:

  • Having the right members of their team available to work on your project
  • Being able to order all needed materials in plenty of time
  • Making sure all codes referenced are accurate
  • Knowing all the details right down to the shipping information so there are no time and money wasting surprises along the way

Supplying the fabricator with final drawings, rather than initial drawings that will be revised, will eliminate many of pitfalls that often occur with poor planning.

Suggestions and Alternative Material

We recommend final drawings that are created by or, at minimum, have been reviewed by an engineer for proper function and safety. By having final drawings, the fabricator providing the estimate can quote all material, labor, and equipment costs with confidence. A fabricator with experience with projects similar to yours can often make suggestions that may save time on production, alternatives for materials used, or suggest a type of finish that is more durable or cost effective. Leverage the knowledge of these skilled fabrication estimators but realize this only works when you provide them with the final drawings.

Starting the fabrication estimate process with final drawings saves everyone time and money. Clearly define as much detail as possible so the estimator can provide you with a quote that will be representative of the final cost of your project.  Consult with Swanton Welding with your final plans and let us help you build your project together.

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Topics: Heavy Metal Fabrication, Custom Metal Fabrication, Structural Steel Fabrication