Estimating Concrete Footers Installations

Are you a specialty contractor who deals with concrete footers? Are you a general contractor who supervises concrete subcontractors?

If you answered yes, it is important that you learn to estimate concrete footers.

What are concrete footers?

We need to look at the role concrete footers play before we jump into learning how to estimate for them. Concrete footers are part of the foundation construction for the building. Some of the important roles are:

  • Create the attachment point between the building foundation and the earth and soils.
  • Redistribute the weight of the building’s foundation to a larger area.
  • Help to prevent settling as soils move around the foundation after construction is complete.


Estimating is a critical component of managing a successful construction company. Good projects start with great estimates. And great estimates build on a good understanding of the job at hand. Knowing the project details is key to building a great estimate.


Step 1 – Concrete Footers – Take-off

The take-off is the first step in developing an estimate for concrete footer installations. A project estimator completes the take-off. A take-off is a process of determining the project specific details and quantities. The estimator will complete calculations to determine final product and labor quantities.

Be sure to read the project plans and specifications. Plans and specs will contain important details that will affect the final estimate.

When completing a take-off for concrete footers look for the following details:

  • Length of footers.
  • Dimensions of footers. Pay attention to changes in dimensions.
  • Length and gauge of rebar reinforcement.
  • Specified type of concrete.
  • Changes in details for footers.
  • Length of materials (e.g. lumber) for forming concrete footers.

When the initial project take-off is complete apply estimating formulas to determine material quantities. Estimating quantities are usually measured in one of four ways. Measure quantities in count, length, area and volume.

Remember to factor in waste for each material type.

For more insight into basic estimating calculations signup for Estimating 101.

The Concrete Network has an online calculator. This calculator provides a helpful resource for determining cubic yards of concrete for footers.

Step 2 – Concrete Footers – Developing the Estimate

The second step is to develop the labor and material estimate. This is based on the quantities determined from the take-off process or the site visit. Every company estimates in a different way. The basics from company to company are similar.

  • Determine material quantities.
  • Determine detail quantities if the company applies labor or material factors to those details.
  • Apply labor per unit of measure for each material type. (e.g. labor hours per cubic yard of concrete, etc.)
  • Call for pricing from material vendors for the quantities determined from the take-off.
  • Multiply material quantities by the cost per unit as quoted from material suppliers.
  • Add more labor as necessary for project details.
  • Factor in mobilization, safety and unique details relating to the project.
  • Add extra non-material and non-labor expenses including equipment rental and small tool purchases.
  • Apply markup to materials.
  • Remember to factor in other costs including sales tax and other expenses.

Step 3 – Concrete Footers – Applying Overhead and Profit to the Estimate

The third step is to apply overhead and profit to the direct cost estimate.

Overhead includes the costs associated with operating the business. These costs are that are not related directly to the job. These are the costs that continue to occur even if there is no work. These may include rent, utilities and office personnel salaries. A business owner needs to apply an overhead factor to the estimate. The overhead factor covers these overhead costs.

The final step in developing the concrete footers estimate is to apply profit. Companies may choose to apply build profit into the estimate at different times. Some companies may apply profit as part of the labor rate. Others may choose to apply profit as part of the material markup for the project. Each company is different. The important part here is to make certain that profit has been built into the estimate at some point.

An important part of doing business is to make sure that there is profit built into each project. Knowing the expected profit from a project is critical. It allows the company’s leadership to know the expected rate of return to the company for taking on the work.

Successful construction companies bring together a string of successful projects. Each successful project starts with a great estimate. Successful companies realize the importance of a great estimates and build great estimating systems. They build these systems and processes to insure that each estimate captures the data. This leads to a greater degree of success for the company and for the crews completing the work.