What Is Estimation in Civil Engineering?

Date: 23 Sep 2022

In Australia, the third largest industry is construction. Every day, more projects are being approved and more engineering positions are being opened.

By May 2023, employment in construction may rise by 10%.

Because of this, civil engineering is a great career to step into.

The responsibility of civil engineers starts from the beginning of the project. Estimation in civil engineering is one of the first steps of starting a project.

As you read on, you’ll see what it is and why it’s so important to process before carrying on with the construction project.

What is Estimation in Civil Engineering?

Estimation in civil engineering is vital to every project. It helps you develop an accurate budget that you can divide between materials, labour and resources.

Before the project begins, you need to make an estimate. Based on this estimate, which does have a little leeway, your workers can begin collecting the materials needed.

Normally, different types of estimates can give you an even more accurate value for the project. The most common ones are mentioned below.

Why is it Important?

Without an estimate, you could likely lose out on time and money. Not having enough for a project can lead to the client and the civil engineer relationship falling apart. Having too big of a budget can lead to the same results.

To prevent such issues, you need to make an estimate first.

By agreeing to have an estimate before starting a project, you get to see how much you can lose or gain. Sometimes, the estimate will show you that the funds aren’t enough for a project. When that happens, you can simply put the project aside until its proper time.

For more public projects, companies and engineers will need to make a bid. The client in this case will most likely choose the company with the most reasonable estimate.

What is Estimated?

Simply put, everything to do with the project will and can be estimated. This will help the clients and the civil engineers to imagine the project and how it will work out.


Materials are where most of the project budgets go to. When you estimate the number of materials needed for a project, there are certain factors to consider.

In addition to the prices of the materials, you need to also include the estimated quantity of these materials. By doing so, you get to prepare in advance for the arrival and the cost of the materials.

By the time you start the project, you would have what you need on-site and there will be no more time wasted.


Having too many workers on site will result in waste. There won’t be enough jobs for everyone, and they will be on your payroll.

When you have too few workers, the project will drag on. Your employees will become overworked, which can be grounds for an unhappy working environment.

By estimating the number of workers you need, early on, you can prepare for the payroll budget.


Aside from materials, you would need tools and other various types of equipment.

Some projects require large construction vehicles to be booked in advance. These vehicles also cost quite a lot of money to rent. By estimating the number of vehicles and the length of time you’d need them, you can save on the costs.

in other cases, certain pieces will need to be manufactured on-site. Planning for a plant to be set up can save time and money.


In the engineering industry, time is everything.

Over a certain period of time, each project will have goals that you need to meet. Go over that amount of time and you might just end up paying a lot more than you should.

By estimating beforehand, you can see which processes you can do first. You can do this by examining past projects to see what worked in the past. You will also see what you can improve on to save more time.

Types of Estimation in Civil Engineering

Each way of estimating a project in civil engineering can be done differently. Some are quicker and others and more detailed and accurate.

Here are the most common ways you can estimate the cost of a project.

Preliminary Estimate

Also known as rough estimates, these types of estimates are quick and easily done. It’s done right at the beginning of a project when there isn’t much information to work with.

Because preliminary estimates are fast, they usually work well with smaller, residential projects.

Detailed Estimate

You can make a detailed estimate when more information is available. Usually, preliminary estimates provide this information.

A detailed estimate will have the quantity, price and overall cost of the project. The material specifications, equipment and manpower needed will also be in the detailed estimate.

In some cases, this can also be used as an estimate for the budget of the project as it already has everything.

Quantity Estimate

The quantity estimate focuses more on the materials being used on the project. This is particularly helpful for larger construction projects that need a large number of varying resources.

A quantity estimate will inform the client and the civil engineer of the costs that the project will incur. That way, they can add or remove materials and even replace them with alternatives.

Bid Estimate

For public construction projects, a company would need to submit a bid estimate. The engineering industry can be competitive so the bid estimate you make must stand out.

Get the Best of the Best

Civil engineers are often responsible for making estimates on construction projects. Align yourself with a reliable construction company. That way you are guaranteed to succeed on many future projects.

Of course, it’s only natural to have questions before hiring a civil engineer.

We at SSA Ltd. can offer both. We have over a decade of experience in the construction field. Whether you’re an engineer or a client, we have what it takes to offer you a position in our teams or a smooth project.

Have any questions? Don’t hesitate to contact our Melbourne offices!

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