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Production Rates
What is needed to come up with a production rate? A duration of time, the manhours involved, and an amount of work produced. You'll see quite a few estimate software programs that will give you a crew size and a unit of measure to figure an estimate - you'll provide the average labor rate for your crew. This allows you to figure the duration and the labor cost to produce a certain item using their production rates. The problem is that your production may be better or worse than what they give you. In my opinion you're much better off to keep track of your own production rates (we'll talk about jobsite tracking more later on).

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A Quick Example
Unit of Measure: LF
Producing: 2x6 Framed Walls @ 8' height
Crew Size: 2 carpenters and 1 laborer
Average Crew Rate / hr: $25 / Manhour
Let's say for that day (8 hours) they produced 200 feet of wall. For this exercise let's figure a LF / MH production and cost.
Breaking down the LF / MH... Lineal Footage = 200 feet
Manhours = 8 x 3 = 24 manhours
200lf / 24mh = 8.33 therefore that crew can produce 8.33 feet of 2x6 framed wall / manhour.
$ / MH = $25 if we use that figure to find out what it costs us in labor to build a lineal foot of wall we use the formula
$25 / 8.33lf = $3.00 / LF
Now what does this do for us? After many days of doing this calculation you will come up with an average Labor Cost / LF of wall. The next time we do a bid we can figure durations, cost, and also have something to gauge the progress.
Using the figures above as our average we want to bid a framing job that has 452 lf of wall.
We figure our duration at 452lf / 8.33 lf/mh and come up with 54.26 or 55 manhours to build the wall. Take that number times our cost / mh and we get $1375. Using our $3.00 / LF as a check we get $1356 (due to rounding up).

Now as our historic data is kept track of we get a better and better idea of what a LF of wall will take to produce. This allows us to increase the accuracy of our $ / LF cost to produce that wall. It will eventually cover weather conditions, material deliveries, etc as we get more historic data.
Now that we have a method to calculate production rates we can combine that with our material take-offs to produce an estimate. We'll be talking about specific take-off methods in subsequent articles.

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