Build Aviator tells PBC Today how using estimating software can transform your construction project
How long did it take you to price an extension without the estimating software?
Before using the estimating software program it could take me hours, sometimes even days. It all depended on the size and intricacy of the build and the type of materials being used. I would have to ring round for prices and do long, hard maths to hope everything was accurate and correct. After doing all the calculations, you still didn’t know for certain if you were right – you just had to hope. The program is fantastic because it gives you that certainty you can’t get by pricing a build yourself.
What were the difficulties you used to face before you started using the software?
The simple fact of the time it takes to do the actual maths to work anything out.
Were your prices accurate before using the software?
The prices were never entirely accurate. I had to use a lot of rule of thumb and guesswork. I had to work out the physical measurements and gather the actual prices from the merchants – now the program does all that for me. In the past, I’ve brought pricing manuals to try and help me but the pricing sections are all sold separately so you end up with hundreds of different books for one job. The program has everything in one place so it makes it a lot easier for me to not only calculate and price the build but also to ensure my figures and prices are accurate. It’s great because the materials, prices and everything are organised into sections. It makes organising the information a lot simpler and doesn’t give me a headache!
Did you struggle to remember everything before using the software?
Yes, it was hard to keep track of everything going on. It was very easy to mis-measure and overcompensate and then, in the long run, because of this, lose profit. There were also times where I would doubt my calculations and over cost for the materials, then overpay and I would then be left with five too many decking boards leftover stored in my shed, all because I would panic that my figures weren’t accurate enough. Or there would be times where I would have to use guesswork and this would lead to me overcompensating and pricing the job too high and therefore not winning the work because of this. It was very frustrating. However, the program instantly shows you the accurate figures for the profit you’ll make, quantities and prices of the materials, labour and plant you’ll need and this can ultimately show you if it’s worth going for.
Were your projects ever held up by not being organised enough before using the estimating software?
The only work schedule you would have is the one in your head, so you would forget and then not project. It was very hard to remember and organise everything. We are only human so it would be easy to forget materials you would need to complete an essential stage of the build and then this would hold up the rest of the process. For example, if I forgot steel, I’d remember and phone the steel yard and they’d say they won’t be able to provide me with the materials for the next few weeks then this will hold the project up majorly. This could create weeks of days off and then eat into the profit. However, the work schedule the program creates breaks the schedule down into sections and weeks so it’s hard to forget anything and keeps my build on track. Therefore it allows you to pre-plan your work and allows you to organise yourself. So, I’m able to see if I can fit in an extra, smaller job in between, pre-book any specific tradesman or if I have time to take a holiday.
Before, my projects never came in on time and were always over budget. Now, I get a set of predictable circumstances which removes ambiguity. The best thing about the program is the certainty it gives you – it shows you if you’ll make money or if you’ll struggle. The program proves how much the build will cost in reality. It spares you and the customer heartache as it explains everything they have requested, highlights the overall cost and enforces the budget. It saves you time – compared to quoting the old fashioned way.
The estimating software streamlines everything and allows you to be more direct – it doesn’t provide room for nonsense. There is a certainty to a greater degree of accuracy provided and it brings credible facts to the conversation.