4 Alternatives to Construction Estimating Software Every Contractor Needs to Know

alternatives to construction estimating software
Most contractors assume that construction estimating software will solve their estimation problems. But it’s the opposite; it only causes more problems. In this post, we highlight new alternatives to construction estimating software every contractor should know.

How to Solve your Cost Estimation Headaches Forever

When you’re working as a contractor, you spend a lot of time trying to ensure that more projects keep coming in to keep your business going, spending a lot of time working on construction estimating software. However, are you using the most effective approach to ensure that you’re making the most of every moment, reducing your office time and maximizing your time on the job site? It’s estimated that a third of all construction companies aren’t making as much as they expected based on their estimates. It’s pretty easy to discover why that’s a problem, considering bids on the same project can vary anywhere from 0.5% to over 30%.

Some of these issues can’t be avoided, except for bid price locks from your suppliers. As an example, nobody could have expected to see the largest increase in lumber prices in 70 years over four months during 2020, which offset the savings many contractors were seeing in other areas of construction costs. But with factors such as these in play, how do you keep ahead of the game without spending all of your time chasing costs? While many firms may opt for construction estimating software to solve their problems, there are a lot of reasons to be wary. With the focus on digital transformation sweeping through so many industries today, is it any wonder that contractors continually turn to construction estimating software as a do-all, end-all solution to their estimating woes? Unfortunately, the promises made on software sales pages often fall short of reality. Training is much more complex and difficult than it looked initially. You’re paying for a lot of features that you’re not using or are finding the features you thought you’d use all the time to be cumbersome and awkward to use. Until the technology catches up with human experience, know-how, and industry expertise, construction estimating software still leaves a great deal to be desired, at least as a sole means of managing your construction estimating needs.

Here’s a look at four approaches to takeoffs that every contractor should know, including which ones are the most cost-effective for your company.

4 Approaches Every Contractor Should Know to Estimate Projects Beyond Construction Estimating Software

1. Manual Takeoffs

On the other end of the spectrum, you have completely manual takeoffs, going completely off of all digital technology for your construction estimating process. Printed worksheets, colored pencils, paper plans all allow you to more minutely control different aspects of your process, and are the basic methods that have been used for years. Many companies use a hybridized approach, using spreadsheets and digital plans, but these can also be cumbersome and prone to mistakes, as your data entry process accidentally skews a formula or a specific fixture is counted twice or missed in the initial count. This process is also time-consuming, requiring much more time and duplication of effort as you check back to see whether any errors have been made in your takeoff.

2. Hire an Estimating Team

One option that many larger construction companies go with is hiring an in-house estimating team to handle all of their company’s estimates. This can be effective for larger companies, which have the revenue to support this type of support department, but what about smaller businesses that do not bring in these higher levels of revenue? In addition, even if you can hire one or two estimators to work full-time, will they be able to keep up with the boom times and will you need to let people go when times are tough? The inflexibility of having an in-house estimating team as well as the added expense makes it difficult for many companies to manage this as a solid long-term option for their estimating and takeoff needs.

3. Get Bids from Local Suppliers

One option that many smaller contractors go with is simply turning over the plans to or multiple local suppliers, allowing their estimating departments to develop their cost estimates for the projects, which the contractor then passes on to the client along with their labor estimates. However, you can’t always be sure in these cases that you’re getting the very best price or materials from your supplier. The suppliers have their own strategies and goals, which they use sales to your business to accomplish. If they have a huge amount of a specific product but don’t have a lot of retail sales due to poor quality or appearance, they may put those products into their bids in order to get those products moved.

4. Construction Estimating Services

When you need help getting your construction estimates done in a timely manner, construction estimating services can provide estimating services only when they’re needed, saving you the expense when they aren’t. This gives you the convenience of an in-house estimating team with extensive expertise in computer estimating software that allows them to use it without it becoming a crutch. Their expertise in the field helps them catch issues with digital or manual takeoffs, while they can still determine that the materials they’re including in the bid are of appropriate quality for your customers.

By having a solid understanding of the various options available to help you make the most of your time during the estimating process, you can ensure that you’re maximizing your company’s profitability while minimizing the time you’re spending off of the jobsite. If you’re considering working with an outsourced construction estimating service, why not give 1build a shot? Our experienced team is solely focused on estimating jobs so that you can get back to work instead of chasing projects. 

Please feel free to reach out today for more information, with any questions or to request a demo of our exceptional estimating services.

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