Best Construction Estimating Books

Accurately estimating what a job will cost is one of the most important aspects of running a construction business! When you are just starting out one bad estimate can really set you back! That’s why we want to share with you what we think are the best construction estimating books on the market.


Estimating is somewhat of an art form, especially in the remodeling industry! Just when you think you have the square foot price worked out for how much a bathroom remodel should cost, you meet a project that doesn’t fit inside the boxes you’ve created!

No estimating book or software can take the place of someone who knows what it takes to get the job done. On the flip side, we’ve also seen many who have a lot of experience in the industry not have a clue how to estimate a project.

That’s why there needs to be a marriage of the estimator and his books. The books will get you close to the industry standard, will keep you from forgetting to include certain costs, and will give you rough ideas on the materials and labor needed for the project. You can then take those numbers, review them, and put your final touch of beauty on the quote!

There may need to be a few adjustments to what the books come up, but that’s normal. In the end these books will help produce a final number you can be confident of and will bring a consistency in your prices.


By far, our favorite construction estimating books are the RSMeans Series from Gordian. These books are updated every year and come packed with information and data.

They offer different books for different types of construction. I’m going to highlight just two of the books I think you’d benefit from.


Our favorite book for new construction is RSMeans Square Foot Costs. This book is great because it covers all types of new builds: commercial, industrial, institutional, and residential. It also makes it simple to add or subtract from the square foot price based on any modifications your project might have.  Those daunting plans will be turned into an estimate in no time!


If you’re remodeling then the best book we’ve found is RSMeans Residential Repair and Remodeling Costs book. This gives you an overview of the different types of construction projects you might face (interior and exterior) and how to use a square foot price to calculate them. This book also gives you breakdowns on labor, materials, and equipment which is very helpful.


I hope these books point you in the right direction! Again, I can’t emphasis enough how the estimating process should be a marriage between the books and the estimator. Don’t rule out what you know about a project simply because a book says you’re wrong. Use the book to investigate further and become more accurate in the prices you give out.

Please leave any comments or questions below that you might have! Happy estimating!



Ethan McNeil

Ethan McNeil has worked in the office of T&H Keith Inc since 2008. He currently takes care of all things office, from estimating to scheduling to accounting. He also has his realtor license and helps individuals sell and buy their homes.

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