Sunday, January 4, 2004


Senior estimator Don Koslowsky stands at the downtown Honolulu offices of Actus Lend Lease, a major Hawaii military housing contractor.

In his estimation, a mental
picture clarifies jobs

Don Koslowsky

>> Job: Hired by Actus Lend Lease, the Napa, Calif., developer recently awarded a $7 billion Army housing contract for Schofield Barracks and a similar $1.1 billion deal for Hickam Air Force Base. His new position is senior estimator, and he will conduct cost planning and estimation of the Hickam and Army housing privatization projects.
>> Background: Previously worked for Honolulu-based general contractor Armstrong Builders Ltd., where he was also chief estimator. He lives in Kailua.
>> Employer: Actus Lend Lease has been chosen to build or renovate 1,356 housing units on Hickam Air Force Base and 7,700 units at Schofield Barracks. Both contracts are for 50 years.

What do you like about it?

I am a numbers person. I enjoy working with the numbers, getting things to balance out right and work out right, and also especially on the architectural side: It's very visual, where to be accurate, I literally build the house in my mind three dimensionally.

The plans, the drawings for the house are on a sheet of paper, which is two dimensional. The way the house would sit on the lot isn't always going to be exactly flat. So planning how the house would be able to sit on the land, and even in the house itself, how the second story sits on the first story ... occasionally you'll come across something that doesn't quite work out engineering-wise.

What you do for leisure?

I do triathlons and I swim and I coach masters' swim team.

Will you oversee a team of estimators? What does estimation entail?

Eventually I will oversee a team of estimators. There's many many different components that make up the housing project, everything from civil work ... to the actual house construction. There's minor components: electric, sewer, water, road building. Those components will also be broken down to where different estimators work on the different components for the project. Different people will work on the components, bring the components to me, and I put it into a package.

How do you avoid cost overruns? Why do overruns typically happen?

Generally, by trying our best to anticipate problems. You just really have to build it three dimensionally in your head for different obstacles and ways to overcome those obstacles.

How did you get into construction?

Actually, I started working in the field and then from there decided to go to college, and then after college I was also in the field doing construction.

Are these your biggest projects?

This is the largest I've ever worked on.


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