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Estimating software: a new era in construction

Not so long ago, estimations and cost calculations for construction projects were done manually. Today estimating software is increasingly popular. It’s always been important to calculate project costs transparently, especially when you later want to see how one element of a site has impacted the total budget. An understanding of what the estimated costs are will help property developers decide which construction company is awarded a contract. However, as the term ‘preliminary costing’ suggests, such estimates are assumptions that generally describe a defect-free workflow.

Software vendors enable and accelerate the estimation process. Microsoft Excel, for example, has been a pioneering piece of spreadsheet software. Today, however, more companies are advertising smartphone applications that transfer the same benefits to your tablet or mobile phone and guarantee mobility alongside cost and time savings.

This article will show you that it takes more than a spreadsheet to implement cost estimates or calculations. If you want to keep on top of costs during the construction phase, you need to reduce the impact of low quality work and defects.


Spreadsheets, pen and calculator used for Construction & Remodeling Estimating

PlanRadar can complement your estimating software and ensure that your building estimate is as close as possible to the final cost.

We’ll illustrate the following:

  • What an estimating software must provide,
  • Why a calculation must be cast-iron proof,
  • Why individuals and not the software are a risk factor and
  • How PlanRadar can enrich your company.

Estimating Software Works With Construction Business Software

Construction cost estimating software is computer software designed to help contractors and subcontractors calculate their costs for a project. Based on these calculations, bids can be made which eventually become part of the construction contract. If architects or engineers use estimation software products, then in most cases they will be able to create and submit a more detailed cost estimate to their client. On this basis, the client or owner decides which architect or contractor should be awarded the contract, and where cost-saving measures can or should be applied before construction begins.

When we deal with calculations in the construction industry, there are two main factors that will inspire trust from clients. These are not necessarily related to the quality of construction but concentrate on the aspects that affect the project’s financials.

First: Accuracy

If your estimating calculations are accurate then your customers will be happy to recommend your services. Unpleasant surprises that lead to additional costs for the construction site, even if they are justified or there is no alternative, can lead to dissatisfied customers. Adding a buffer to your price in case of unforeseen events is an intelligent tactic, but might make your prices higher than your competitors’ when bidding for a project. An estimate that proves to be exactly right proves that you know what you’re doing and can execute work well.

Second: Speed

Working to a schedule doesn’t start with the work on the construction site. Customers expect a reliable and professional partner to support them through the whole project. First impressions count. The faster you can respond to a request, the better you will be perceived. Customers appreciate quick, detailed and accurate offers and it’s more likely that your bid will be successful if you can deliver those things.

These two factors are best served by estimating applications currently on the market. Material and items can be retrieved from an integrated data pool, their quantity added and inserted into a spreadsheet. All this works well with most architecture apps via an intuitive interface. You can generate an offer that can be sent, received and confirmed directly by email as soon as these steps have been completed.

However, what can you do to ensure that your cost estimates don’t skyrocket during construction due to defects and incidents? PlanRadar’s construction business software supports your goal for long-term customer satisfaction. The trial version of our software application is available to you to try free of charge for 30 days.

Two helpless men discussing pitfalls in their calculations

Estimating software: only as good as its users

Successful construction business software is also contractor business software. Securing your goals is only possible if all project participants pull together and communicate. Ultimately, delays due to another subcontractor can be responsible for you having to postpone other elements of construction work. That can lead to knock-on delays and additional costs not foreseen in your estimate.

There are several reasons why your estimate might not match the final costs:
  1. Any estimator who only works with standard tables and spreadsheets runs the risk of entering incorrect values into cells. These errors lead to miscalculations, and the initial mistake can be hard to find in a large spreadsheet. That’s why calculation or estimating programs for the construction industry often work with libraries, structures and formulas to avoid errors.
  2. The estimator or surveyor responsible may not read the bid documents closely. As a result, they misjudge the necessary work described in the project documents.
  3. The estimator or surveyor doesn’t visit the construction site in person and is unaware of local conditions while costing. These oversights can cause bigger problems, especially when developing the construction site and making it accessible.
  4. The estimator doesn’t notice any errors in the final costing because they haven’t compared the documents with reference projects to check their plausibility.
  5. One of your employees or subcontractors can cause a defect during construction work. You may have to order new material, wait for resources to be available or even shut down the entire construction site until the defect is repaired.

 

Even this brief list makes it clear that mistakes in cost calculation and execution can happen for several reasons. The cause of most errors, however, is not malfunctioning software, but a person who makes mistakes or doesn’t manage their tasks consistently.

Using PlanRadar as an example, we can show you how contractor business software for construction management prevents oversights and mistakes and supports your costings. Lower your additional costs now by encouraging interaction between software and an entire team instead of an individual.

Construction Manager Software

It’s unlikely to be software that is the most error-prone part of an operation, but the person who operates it. PlanRadar’s features are quickly explained and easy to use. Our main aim is to support communication between team members in order to prevent the misunderstandings that cause extra costs. The features, therefore, focus on enabling a range of interactions with the construction plan at their centre.

PlanRadar is a construction project management system for construction documentation and defect management. Always at hand, PlanRadar is a simple to use app that operates on your smartphone, tablet, Mac or PC.

Solve problems quickly to save money

As a user, you can load your construction plans into a project space and always have them available from that point on. Via their mobile device, all participants involved in the implementation of your project can look at a common overview wherever they are. With the help of a ticket or form, created when a user notices a defect on-site, you can directly record issues on the building plan itself. Tickets contain information about the defect in the form of photos, texts and voice recordings.

Users just need to send their ticket to the person responsible for correcting the problem. Once it’s in progress, they can track its status. The constant overview and direct communication between all those working on the project ensures clarity and transparency in all processes. You won’t be surprised by defects that exceed the budget and jeopardise your reputation. If you need to create an estimate for repair work, all the data about necessary works is also to hand. You can use the reporting function to pull all open tasks into an Excel sheet.

Keep good records for future projects

PlanRadar as construction task management software will document all services performed on the project as well as any communication. This measure offers you long term security if claims arise after the work has been completed and it’s unclear which party is responsible. You can retrieve your comprehensive records from the Cloud at any time.

Teamwork is one of the most important pillars of a functioning construction project. Complete documentation of all your employees’ actions ensures that you can keep track of everything, whether in the office, at home or on the road, without physically being on-site.

PlanRadar for a safe and sound estimation

Even experienced contractors can be derailed by calculations that are wrong. Such errors don’t necessarily come from the estimator’s work. Budgets are exceeded for many reasons. Nevertheless, it is important to take all measures that enable you to avoid sky-rocketing costs. Software combined with experienced staff can form a solid base for ensuring your estimate, budget and final costs line up. PlanRadar can help you to take care of risks that come up after your bid has been accepted.

Only the combination of software and human interaction can promise both a long-term overview and cost security. Neither a human being nor a computer alone can do this.

If your reputation as a company that brings projects in on-budget is important to you then contact us now. We’re always happy to advise you on how you can implement PlanRadar in your company.