Demolition contractors face a bigger challenge in estimating their costs than many other industries. No building is the same, and taking down one that is decades old may have factors hidden in its walls that no one may have anticipated. And in a “low-bid wins” world, often the more qualified contractor with more accurate estimates loses to the lesser prepared company—a company that thinks it can complete a job well under what it actually ends up costing.

The National Demolition Association (NDA), Washington, is addressing this issue head on. In the spring, it began hosting a Demolition Estimating Course in several locations around the country. The day-and-a-half course taught by Mike Casbon, technical director, ERM, Indianapolis, and Greg Menen, director of demolition services, Rocky Mountain Recycling, Denver, is teaching skills to demolition contractors to more accurately estimate the cost of projects. The pair of instructors collectively have more than 50 years of experience in demolition estimating.

According to the NDA, the course teaches proven estimating techniques for a wide variety of projects in multiple industries from conducting an initial site visit to analyzing the success of a bid.

The more contractors who know how to accurately bid a project will eliminate the aforementioned scenario of a lesser qualified contractor outbidding those who have a more rigorous process for coming up with a truer cost to do work.

The NDA is hosting another of these courses Sept. 28-29 in Baltimore, that I would encourage people to attend. But educating contractors is only one part of the problem. It’s also getting building owners and government officials to understand how costs are calculated so they can better determine who the most qualified contractor is for a job. And hiring the most qualified contractor should be the priority over simply cost. If an accident occurs or a timeline isn’t met or a project ends up costing more than initially budgeted, it is the property owner’s reputation on the line.

Cost should absolutely be considered when determining who to hire for a demolition job, but it should be one of several factors to weigh. Qualifications, safety record and experience with the type of project also should be taken into account.

The more demolition contractors who have the skills to properly bid a job, the more likely those doing the hiring will be able to make a good decision because the playing field will be fairer. Demolition contractors, too, will likely cut down on cost surprises if they know the proper techniques for determining the cost of a job.

I commend the NDA for tackling this issue and for being willing to share trade secrets in this area. It will only serve to help the industry as a whole be better. When individual companies are willing to share their knowledge with others, the entire industry can benefit, and that is the case with the Demolition Estimating Course.