"Traditional Estimating with a lot of help from technology"

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Estimating Training

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The program that I have developed for estimating is a two part program. The first day we concentrate on learning the anatomy of a home and the terminology that is used for all parts of a home. We learn how to ask our customer the right questions and how to read the blueprint. We start making a material list using traditional estimating and learning all the formula's nescessary to calculate the materials that are needed to provide the customer with complete material using a checklist to make sure that we figure all the material needed. We spend a little extra time learning the formula's for figuring out the roof and do a list on 3-4 different types of roofs. On day 2 I introduce some spreadsheets that I have developed to assist with the calculating and speeds up the estimating process. These spreadsheets as well a one I call the Estimator's Assistant are available to be downloaded by anybody taking my course. When you are done with my course the student will have an understanding of the materials needed to figure a material list for a new home and the same formula's apply to additions - roofing - siding - remodeling.


MISSION STATEMENT: To provide the tools and training that will bring profitability to the dealer and value to the customer.


  1. Reading and understanding blueprints
  2. Job information sheet
    1. What questions to ask the customer
  3. Job data sheet
    1. Convert the blue print information to the data sheet
  4. Review estimate check list and formulas
  5. Create a material take-off for a basic house plan.
  6. Provide information about construction details.
  7. Discuss profit margin and markup.
  8. Provide some basic salesmanship skills.
  9. Basic excel information (show them how to make spreadsheet to perform certain tasks)
  10. Provide students with some basic spread sheets that I have developed.
    1. margin and markup (conversion chart)
    2. rafter calculator (rafter – hip & valley’s)
    3. special order calculator (list x multiplier = cost + margin = selling price)
    4. board foot calculator
    5. product margin calculator
    6. square foot – lft conversion calculator

Course format:

  1. Day 1 – Traditional Estimating
  2. Day 2 – Computer Aided Estimating

Upon completion of this course students will be able to:

  1. Read blueprints
  2. Make material estimates
  3. Understand profit and margin
  4. Use guidebook as an estimating reference
  5. Estimator’s Assistant (spreadsheets to help with take-off)

I have 30 plus years of estimating, customer relations, and management experience. This extensive background enables me to teach and prepare these students from all angles of the building materials business! Profitability in the future depends on our ability to do MORE with less! My experience includes:

  - 1976Graduate Bemidji State University with a B.S. Degree in Industrial Technology
1977 - 1979Salesman for Lampert Lumber Company (Fergus Falls)
1979 - 1985Manager for Lampert Lumber Company (Sauk Centre)
1985 - 1991Manager for Lampert Lumber Company (Willmar)
1991 - 2010Business owner of Builders Outlet
1977 - 1996Estimated the traditional way
1996 - presentDeveloper My Project Estimator

Contact: Gary Thompson ( myprojectestimator@gmail.com) Cell - 320-220-2701


Northwestern Lumber Association
Covers: Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin
Cody Nuernberg, President
5905 Golden Valley Road, Suite 110
Minneapolis, MN 55422
763-595-4052, Fax 763-595-4060