How to Prepare Your CSI Estimate in Excel

Providing accurate estimates of project costs is an essential component of successfully managing a commercial build. Doing so effectively requires you to apply an organized and systematic approach. Most commonly, this means following the CSI MasterFormat to break down and categorize your project’s costs.


Getting started with your estimate


Before preparing your estimate in Excel, you first want to identify the CSI format you’re going to use. The Construction Specifications Institute (CSI) has organized its MasterFormat into a 16-division version and a more expansive 50-division version. To learn more about the difference between the two, read this post.


Once you’ve identified your format, you will then evaluate the sub-sections within each division. There, you will find line items identifying a project’s scope of work. If it pertains to your project, take note of those items and continue identifying everything you need for the job.


For example, if you’re building a new house, you’ll look through the divisions and note a “yes” or “no” based on the items pertaining to you. Does it have drywall? – yes. Flooring? – yes. Acoustical ceilings? – no. And so on, identifying what you need.


Creating your Excel file


The next step is to transpose the specific information pertaining to your project into an Excel spreadsheet.


It should be organized with the CSI code in one column, a description of the item in the second column, and the dollar value in the third column. For example:


09216 | Drywall | [$ Value of Drywall]


Gather pricing


Once you are organized based on the set of plans and architect drawings you have, your next step is to invite vendors to bid on the project. Based on the pricing you receive, you can populate your spreadsheet and calculate the sum total of your final project estimate.


While everything in your spreadsheet can be quantified, prices do fluctuate based on time, availability, and level of expertise. It is not always an exact science, but by applying consistent formatting to your budget and some logic and research to fill in any gaps, you should be able to confidently estimate the project’s cost – and you will be doing so in an organized and systematic fashion.


For questions about preparing a project estimate or any other South Florida construction questions, come talk to us at Seacoast Construction.


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