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Why Cost Estimating For Tradespeople Means Getting Tech Savvy

Building contractors and cost contractors are increasingly embracing digital software. They’ve seen the benefits that technology such as Building Information Modelling (BIM) can bring to the construction process, and it’s changing the way they work for better. There are several reasons they’re wising up and becoming more tech savvy. 

Manual estimating is notoriously time-consuming and prone to errors as it relies on individuals to process the information needed for putting together budgets or tenders. It’s a risky and inefficient model, and inaccuracies can be costly for the contractor. As a contractor, your business would have to carry the burden if materials, labour, and other professional services are not accurately budgeted for in an estimate. Just a small error can end up making the project less profitable and put you under immense pressure to cut costs elsewhere. This is a situation neither you nor your client wants.

In the past contractors and cost consultants have had to dedicate many working hours to ensure that mistakes don’t creep in to protect their bottom line. From doing detailed measurement works to double-checking all figures, they waste crucial time that could be spent focusing on other essential areas of their business. It’s a global problem that puts those that work in the construction industry at a disadvantage to their competitors that may have already adapted to new technologies such as Groundplan takeoff software for contractors.

Let’s look at the process. In a traditional cost estimation process, the manual measurements would be taken from printed or CAD drawings and transferred by an individual to an estimating system. For a quantity surveyor, this is a laborious process that also requires them to check and recheck the data to make sure there are no mistakes.

Adopting electronic takeoff and estimating software applications can easily streamline this process. Construction professionals will find they are instantly able to create a pitch document or put together information documents accurately and quickly by adopting this digital approach.

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In a typical job, for example, the person creating an estimate would use the electronic takeoff software to source information from PDF drawings or CAD-produced drawings. The software would have the scope to accurately measure the details of the project and integrate it with an estimating application to automatically calculate accurate pricing. It’s easy to see how quick and precise this process is compared to traditional methods.

It’s also interesting to note that the same efficiencies apply to working with BIM. Using technology one can potentially estimate the cost of a project more accurately and with high levels of detail, again saving time and money. However, estimators often need up to two months of training with BIM software before they can deliver these benefits. This is perhaps the reason we’re seeing low levels of implementations of BIM for cost estimating currently.

Something to note regarding BIM is that software developers currently support the NRM1 standard, and some countries including the United Kingdom are considering this will be the standard used for cost estimating and planning processes going forward. They suggest that this approach will give their customers the best experience.

Looking at the situation in more detail, this is why they are supporting the NRM1 format through BIM. Quantity surveyor practices are still slow to uptake the estimating technologies and software developers are aware of the issues that BIM-based estimating experiences currently. For example, the quality of BIMS and design detail variations.

They’ve accepted the way to improve the efficiency and accuracy of QS functions is to work closely with their customers to develop solutions that will support efficient and mistake-free processes that can offer them cost-saving benefits.

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