Pronamics’ Wisdom Series 2021: John Green

Pronamics Expert Estimation - General Estimating


After 30 years of producing great estimating and project management software, Pronamics is well-positioned to know many experienced and successful estimators. This year, we are taking the opportunity to interview some of them, and get their thoughts and wisdom around this unique and challenging field.

Today’s featured estimator is John Green.


JOHN GREEN – Estimator extraordinaire

Few people have been an estimator as long as John Green. Decades ago he completed a Bachelor of Economics then a post-Graduate in Concrete Technology, and since then he has been clocking up the experience. Boasting these qualifications and this length of time in the field, John is part of the elite that can call themselves “true” experts.

This is what he had to say about his time in the industry.

Is estimating a good career?

We are particularly fortunate in civil engineering estimating that each project is unique. The differences between various sites will include some or all of the following:

  • Topography
  • Geology
  • Vegetation
  • Access
  • Existing services
  • Drainage
  • Ground water depth
  • Traffic
  • Buildings
  • Noise constraints, etc.

Each requires adequate research and consideration. Also, for tenders, a site visit is essential – this is often an enjoyable/fun part of estimating! You get to travel, and to see different parts of the country. You also get to see the blank slate before the work is started.

What are the qualities of a good estimator?

There is no substitute for hard work – be prepared to do whatever work is required at the time.

To win (and successfully carry out) a tender each activity must be estimated ‘on the edge of your seat’ – i.e., the activity must be capable of being performed in the field for the budget (the estimated Direct Costs) – but only just.

Being analytical. You need to think about the project from every different angle.

Assume very good quality management in the field.

What’s your advice for younger estimators?

Estimating rewards those who are committed and who are prepared to apply sufficient effort as and when required. This may involve long and sometimes intense hours of work, but that will be amply rewarded by successful bids, or simply the satisfaction of having produced an accurate estimate. 

Be prepared to be different. Be prepared to take estimating one step further than others by:

  • Getting down to detail great advice from a long-departed mentor.
  • Taking the trouble to understand the variables behind any civil engineering activity.
  • Developing and applying ‘fun’ aspects such as Terrain Evaluation.
  • Understanding the project in total – such as the movement of all of the earth within and external to this project (Origin & Destination analysis).
  • Being prepared to understand that activities such as earthworks, pavements (and RCC dams) require swell and shrinkage factor evaluation in terms such as tonnes per bank cubic metre, tonnes per loose cubic metre, and/or tonnes per compacted cubic metre. 
  • Being acutely aware that the estimate and the Construction Programme are intimately related – they ‘bounce off’ each other – so best if you can at least learn to do rudimentary planning.

No one said estimating was easy, but it offers so much intellectual and practical challenge to get things just right, and the payoff is immense.

John is the Principal at John Green and Associates, Civil Engineers in Brisbane, Queensland.


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