Commercial Steel Estimating

A Comprehensive Guide to Mastering the Basics

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Commercial Steel Estimating

Commercial Steel Estimating


Kerri Olsen


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There has never been available a compilation of information on steel estimating such as this one in the entire history of steel fabrication. Even if you know nothing about steel, you can read Commercial Steel Estimating and by the time you have reached the end, you will know how to create a complete steel estimate. 


Commercial Steel Estimating speaks to everyone in layman’s terms and facilitates steel estimating by including chapters on topics such as shop labor and paint application.  It uses a bid set of construction plans and specifications, explaining each element of producing a bid from these documents. Numerous illustrations are included, together with complete explanations on how to read and understand the details. 


Commercial Steel Estimating is also a must-have ready reference for architects, engineers, general contractors, building owners, and developers who want or need to understand the steel estimating process - including the invaluable trade secrets that come only through years of experience.   



  • How to find jobs to bid
  • How to create a comprehensive pricing schedule
  • How to write a comprehensive bid proposal
  • Project Specification explanations and applications
  • Project Drawings explanations and applications
  • How to write a bid letter
  • How to read and interpret the contract drawings and specifications
  • A detailed explanation of shipping and handling applications  

Kerri S. Olsen photoKerri S., Olsen is a true upward mobility author. She began her career in steel from the ground up as a bookkeeper's assistant and receptionist for a steel fabrication company. She acquired deep experience as a steel estimator, sales engineer, project manager, purchasing agent. vice president of sales, operations manager, vice president of manufacturing and company owner. She's also handled freelance projects in steel estimating and detailing, apprenticeship training and expert witness. Kerri has written articles for Modern Steel Construction, the NISD Connection and the Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce. Kerri is the founder and producer of The Fabricator's Resource, an online magazine that provides working information for steel professionals. Visit

Conversation With Kerri Olsen .

Table of Contents


  • The Steel Estimator
  • The Pricing Breakdown
  • The Bid Letter
  • The Bid Documents
  • The Contract Drawings
  • The Steel Materials
  • Reading Structural Drawings
  • Structural Steel Material Listing
  • Reading Architectural Drawings
  • Fabrication Labor
  • Paint and Painting
  • Shipping and Handling
  • Notes and References