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Get the Most Out of RSMeans Data: Metals Edition


Accurate estimates during the planning process decrease the likelihood of cost overruns, ultimately saving both time and money down the line. With RSMeans data being the ultimate tool in achieving that accurate estimate, we want you to experience our product at its maximum potential.

For this round of tips we will focus on ways to get the most efficient and accurate estimate when working with metals.

Common Work Results for Metals

Nuts, bolts, washers, connection angles and plates can add to both the estimated cost and the total tonnage of a structural steel job. As a rule of thumb, add 10% to the total weight to more accurately account for these accessories.

Structural Steel

Most line items in the structural steel subdivision are noted as being shop fabricated. The bare material cost for these shop fabricated items is the “Invoice Cost” from the shop and includes the mill base price of steel plus mill extras, transportation to the shop and shop drawings and detailing where warranted. Also included: shop fabrication and handling, sandblasting a shop coat of primer paint, all necessary structural bolts and delivery to the job site.

Line items listed as Lightweight Framing are indicated as being field fabricated. The bare material cost for these field fabricated items is the “Invoice Cost” from the metals service center. Included are the mill base price of steel plus mill extras, transportation to the metals service center, material handling and delivery of long lengths of mill shapes to the job site.

It is important to include material costs for structural bolts and welding rods. The bare labor cost and bare equipment cost for these items are both for field fabrication and field installation or erection, and include time for cutting, welding and drilling in the fabricated metal items. Not included in the estimate are drilling into concrete and fasteners to fasten field fabricated items to other work. These should be added.

Steel Joist Framing

The total weight of open web steel joists is determined by the loads to be supported and the design. However, costs can be kept down by minimizing the amount of labor used to place the joists by maximizing the joist spacing, therefore minimizing the number of joists necessary to complete the job. Note, the spacing of these joists should be as uniform as possible.

Steel Decking

The takeoff and estimating of metal steel decks goes further than simply taking into account the area of the floor or roof along with the type of deck specified in drawings. For instance, small openings for pipe may be drilled after the floor or roof is installed. On the other hand, larger opening may require special deck lengths on top of reinforcing or structural support. The estimator should note who will be supplying this reinforcing.  Additionally, some deck terminations are part of the deck package. Take screed angles and pour stops or angles attached to structural member and cast-in-place angles and plates as examples. The estimator must make sure that all pieces are accounted for in the complete estimate.

Metal Fabrications

The most economical steel stairs should be pre-assembled and shipped directly to the site. This should be accomplished in an efficient manner using the minimum amount of equipment and labor.

For more information on how to best use RSMeans data, RSMeans seminars and trainings are a great resource. See a full listing of seminars and find one in a location near you.