Estimation is an extremely important part of a construction project and dates back to the 18th century, albeit more primitive in its application. Evidently it is still around as its usefulness has stood the test of time. These days, the process may be more refined.
A project’s costs must be accurately estimated as a part of the bid process for a project. Along with other aspects of a construction project such as scheduling and planning, quality and safety etc, construction estimation also has useful softwares that can be employed to streamline the process of construction estimation. More specifically within construction estimation there are four categories of softwares known as spreadsheets, takeoff softwares, estimation softwares and business information modelling. This blog aims to detail these categories.
The first type of estimation software to be discussed is spreadsheets. It is by far the most outdated and least accurate method for construction estimation out of the four categories being discussed in this blog.
To this day a lot of contractors and builders still utilise excel for estimation spreadsheets as their choice method of estimating the costs for a project. They use it to record all the data and portray it in an appealing format for the customer.
Estimation as aforementioned is an important part of the pre construction phase and all therefore all the materials and their quantities must be known to provide an accurate estimate which of course is part of the data gathered for the spreadsheet in which the estimation process will take place.
Unfortunately estimation conducted on a spreadsheet has its downsides which will be discussed, however these down sides can be detrimental to the very point of construction estimation which is to provide an accurate estimate of the expenses of a project for budgetary purposes which is supposed to ensure the profitability or the assumed profitability of a project.
Spreadsheets are prone to human error, that is people may make mistakes in entering data into the fields of the spreadsheets and this problem grows exponentially with the size of a project. The more complex a project, the more room for error.
Spreadsheets do not let you standardise your estimation process by using data from previous projects. Due to this the process is very manual and repetitive and is not very time efficient. If your estimator leaves so does their methods and calculations that leave you in a potential mess. Having a platform that enables standardisation allows other team members to participate in the estimation process and makes it more collaborative.
Before talking about takeoff softwares what exactly is a construction takeoff? A takeoff is the outline of the costs for all the materials for a project, typically done before the actual estimation but is technically a part of the estimation process as those materials costs are crucial to the accurate estimation of a project and overall an important and imperative part of the success of a construction project.
Construction takeoffs provide the costs of materials along with any other associated costs and are paired with labour and storage costs as examples of other types of costs that are combined together eventually for a project’s estimation.
Seemingly, it is a simple sounding process, but it is anything but simple as it is actually a time consuming task that requires one to be highly skilled. However, due to this, there are now softwares that cater to the preparation of construction takeoffs known as take off softwares.
Construction takeoffs are produced the same through a software as done manually, why the software is necessary is not that the steps to making the takeoff are different, rather it automates them, streamlining the process of producing a construction takeoff software and making the process a whole lot easier and less time consuming.
Specialised Estimating Software
What exactly is construction estimation? Before we delve into the softwares that can be utilised, we must first understand construction estimation itself. Construction estimation is a vital part of the construction process. It is the estimation or predicting as accurately as possible the future expenses to be incurred in a construction project for a building. However, no estimate can be 100% accurate, it is imperative the estimate is as accurate as possible, and a software can most definitely aid in this.
Construction cost estimating includes the project scope and project construction costs and the allocation of costs. There are several reasons to have cost estimates. The cost itself is important in the bid process, cost estimates help increase the accountability in a project and make sure everything is transparent.
The costs expected to be incurred in a project are related to various elements such as the materials, labour and equipment. The quantities and costs of these must be calculated. The labour estimates are found from the takeoff list which details the amount and cost of the labour required to complete a project.
A construction estimation software should enable builders to effectively estimate the costs of the project and should streamline and really pull along the process of creating accurate estimates. The estimates should be created based on labour, materials and other cost factors of the project and it should create line-by-line and quantity estimates of the materials utilising pre-determined formulas and calculations.
Building Information Modelling
Building Information Modelling or BIM for short is a collaborative process in which various different parties including contractors, architects, engineers and even real estate developers to name a few potential users are enabled to work together to create a structure or building digitally.
BIM produces a 3D representation of a building but contains a plethora of information on the building from materials to logistics, it can also be used to analyse existing buildings for the purposes of renovation.
Estimation can be done through the use of BIM software as well, so it is a form of estimation itself. It is done through the mapping of the components of a 3D building model to materials and labour as well as equipment costs.
It is important to note BIM’s accuracy in estimation depends upon the completeness of the 3D model and how accurate it is, so results may vary and can potentially be less accurate that more traditional methods. Cost estimating can be performed in BIM by associating quantities or amounts to cost data which can be recorded for future use.
A good construction software makes use of good project management functionality, estimate and financial/accounting tool functionality, job management, scheduling and planning and support functionalities and more. WunderBuild is a construction management software that aims to provide all of these functionalities and more to bring out the best outcomes for a project.
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