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Level 5 Estimating


Level 5 Estimating is an estimating method and estimating training program developed and refined by Pete Fowler Construction Services, Inc.

In Summary, the 5 levels include

  1. Level 1: Order of Magnitude

  2. Level 2: Conceptual

  3. Level 3: Preliminary

  4. Level 4: Detailed

  5. Level 5: Bid/Construction/Trial

Level 5 Estimating Details

Level 1

Level 1 is an order of magnitude estimate that delivers a one-paragraph to one-page work breakdown structure (WBS). There are only basic quantities and approximate figures (no cost of materials); little breakdown of labor and time in this step. It is essentially a guess made within one to four hours.

Level 2

Level 2 is a conceptual estimate that delivers a categorized, formatted document. It is a rough estimate, slightly overestimating the expected costs. Level 2 estimates are made within two to 24 hours.

Level 3

Level 3 is a preliminary estimate that delivers a formatted and coded WBS. Quantity take-offs (QTO) are detailed and productivity rates of labor and time are used. Level 3 estimates range from 16 to 100 work hours.

Level 4

Level 4 is a detailed estimate with a WBS that has a complete and detailed QTO and uses Walker’s Labor Rates. Level 4 estimate range from 50 to 200 hours.

Level 5

Level 5 is final pass on all items involved in an estimate for clarity and ease of making references and following all of the component parts. Level 5 estimates vary in scope with the project, but typically involve more than 100 work hours to complete.

Level 5 Estimating Training Modules

Understanding & Evaluating Construction Estimates

Understanding & Evaluating Construction Estimates includes:

  1. Introduction

  2. How Do You Know?

  3. Detailed Analysis

  4. Burden

  5. Match Game

  6. Xactimate

  7. Conclusion

Budgeting & Estimating for Construction, Maintenance, Repairs & Claims

Budgeting & Estimating for Construction, Maintenance, Repairs & Claims includes:

  1. Introduction

  2. Order of Magnitude (PFCS Level 1)

  3. Putting It All Together

  4. Conceptual & Preliminary (PFCS Level 2 & 3)

  5. Detailed & Bid/Construction/Trial (PFCS Levels 4 & 5)

  6. Conclusion

Estimating Resources


  1. Xxxx

  2. Xxxx

  3. Xxxx

B. Forms

  1. Xxxx

  2. Xxxx

  3. Xxxx

C. Guide Books

  1. Xxxx

  2. Xxxx

  3. Xxxx

D. Further Reading

  1. The Nine Secrets of Estimating by Don Short

  2. Teaching and Learning the Foundation of Construction Estimating by John W. Adcox Jr.

  3. Bidding Large Jobs by Bob Kovacs

  4. How to Estimate the Cost of an Office Building Using Uniformat II - Part 1 by Mike Alsgaard

  5. How to Estimate the Cost of an Office Building Using Uniformat II - Part 2 by Mike Alsgaard

  6. Level 5 Estimating Matrix by Pete Fowler

  7. Building a Unit Price by George Weissgerber

  8. Developing Unit-Cost Assemblies for Estimating by Bob Kovacs

  9. Unit Price Estimating by Sal Alfano

  10. Conceptual Estimating

  11. Careful Estimating by Paul Turpin

  12. Remodeler's Estimating Checklist by Art Prindle

  13. Taking The Guess Out of Guestimating by Morris D. Carey Jr.


Pete Fowler

Pete Fowler is a construction consultant, professional cost estimator, and President of Pete Fowler Construction Services, Inc. (PFCS). Pete received a B.S. in Construction Management from CSU, Chico. He has held certifications from AAMA, ASPE, ICBO, and others. Mr. Fowler has published articles in national magazines and has been invited to speak by the most important groups in the building industry (AAMA, APRA, ASPE, ASTM, BETEC, CAI, ICC, NIBS, RCI, etc.). Pete has experience with successful expert witness testimony.

Ron Svarc Photo (appx 2015).jpg

Ron Svarc

Ron Svarc's experience dates back more than three decades and incoporates knowledge gleaned from education and high-profile, industry-specific roles. With a B.S. in mathematics and physics from UC Riverside and a MBA from the University of Phoenix,include Mr. Svarc combined his formal education with years of real-world application. Svarc has also been a member of many industry associations, including as a past president of the American Society of Professional Estimators (ASPE). Mr. Svarc was ASPE’s 2009 National Estimator of the Year.

Michael Villalba

Michael Villalba is an expert construction consultant and cost estimator with experience in virtually every role in the contracting and building industry, from laborer to owner of a general contracting firm. Mike’s portfolio includes projects involving single-family residences, multi-family projects, mixed use developments, commercial, institutional, industrial, low-rise, mid-rise and high-rise construction, serving clients who are property owners and managers, developers and contractors, product manufacturers and suppliers, insurers and lawyers. 


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