Construction Estimating Software Builds Cost Certainty
September 15, 2020
Cost certainty can seem like a lofty goal in an industry famous for going over budget on most builds. And while there are any number of reasons why this happens, one contributing factor to consider could very well be the methods used in doing the estimating.
You may be thinking the common computer program spreadsheets you’re using work just fine. But consider the amount of time and effort that go into entering all the details, which introduces plenty of opportunity for keystroke error and broken formulas. And there’s never just one spreadsheet, right? Figure in all those for labor, subcontractors, equipment, materials, indirect costs.
It’s a dizzying amount of data to capture, especially when certain costs are known to fluctuate. And that could leave you feeling less than fully confident in the truth of the estimate. Nailing down the details and ensuring accuracy are key when assembling an estimate; after all, the estimate is the basis for securing funding to build the project.
Construction estimating software designed specifically for this process accounts for and tracks all the different variables, so no detail is inadvertently overlooked or not budgeted. It helps remove the question marks hovering over your estimate by adding a much higher degree of certainty that couldn’t be achieved otherwise.
You’ll find a variety of features and capabilities among the different estimating software available, but in general this technology introduces a proactive way to manage construction costs. Smaller projects may benefit from a basic construction estimating software solution, while larger builds may require extra functionalities to manage substantial data and complexity. Even more, when using a cloud-based system rather than a desktop-based version, you enable cost-related data — such as quantities — to be accessed and updated from remote offices or directly from the field.
- No project estimate can begin without a solid quantity takeoff. Any inaccuracies will simply be amplified in cost projections going forward. With the right software, you can aggregate the lengthy list of all labor, equipment, and materials from the takeoff — including amounts, measurements, and unit costs — so estimates can be automatically calculated. No risk of broken formulas or manual calculation errors. You’ll have more accurate data in a fraction of the time and with less chance of overruns down the road, and retaining your anticipated profit margin. Removing the risks at this early stage of the estimation process will help guarantee more precise numbers going forward.
- Wage rates for each type of subcontractor can vary from region to region. And material costs are dependent on everything from supply and demand to transportation costs, to quantity, to inflation. Customization features within the technology allow you to update these numbers, and any corresponding calculations within the estimate adjust automatically.
- Do you have historical data from similar past projects? Pull in those based-on-experience figures for a realistic estimate for future projects.
Granted, it’s impossible to think of every possible thing that could go wrong or every possible flutter in price. But accounting for the unexpected — that is, those situations you can reasonably anticipate and control for — actually introduces cost estimate certainty based on these calculated scenarios.
- Think ahead to materials costs that are often at the mercy of local weather conditions, supply and demand cycles, and even national or international market pricing. Working directly with suppliers to get the latest figures from them can arm you with a more reliable estimate.
- And just for planning purposes, consider what costs could be incurred in a worst-case scenario. This will give stakeholders a cautionary heads up on the real-time, data-driven decisions and contingency plans to be made in order to stay as closely on schedule and on budget as possible.
No one wants an inaccurate project estimate that could be a forerunner to cost overruns, compromised quality, shrinking profit margins, and unhappy clients. That’s why construction estimating software is so important. With more accuracy, you get more certainty.
Having a more accurate estimate helps everyone stay within budget. And it can work in your favor during the bid process by showing how evolving materials costs, inflation and controllable risks are proactively taken into account. Plus you’ll be able to assemble and submit them more quickly, and with less effort.
Cost estimating technology can be a valuable tool in helping contractors, developers and clients make decisions about how to adjust variables within the estimate and still meet the overall project requirements. InEight’s comprehensive construction estimating software integrates with its broader suite of software solutions to increase the level of certainty in any project.