If you’ve been estimating for a while, chances are you have a system worked out. You have a patchwork of software and spreadsheets that you use to analyze bids and calculate takeoff quantities. You’ve got a scale ruler, but you’re also great at calculating dimensions from pieces of drawings that aren’t to scale.
Somewhere near your desk, where you can see it at a glance, you’ve got a conversion table that lets you convert from inches to meters, and back again. It’s probably right next to one that gives you the mix ratios for common concrete strengths, and near a list of aggregate suppliers in the areas you work in. There’s probably a geometry cheat sheet somewhere too. Just in case you need to check the formula to calculate the volume of a cylinder.
If this sounds like your desk, you’re not alone. It’s the same as every estimator’s office. Because we’re creatures of habit, and once we find a method that works, we stick to it. It might be cobbled together from hand-scribbled notes and dog-eared printouts, with homemade spreadsheets, tweaked just so, but it’s ours.
But what if technology could change all that? What if there was construction takeoff software you could trust, and construction estimating software that did exactly what you needed to be done?
What if you didn’t have to have ten full-sized drawings spread out over the floor while you scaled off information, or five different CAD drawings that you cycle through, looking for elusive information on well-hidden layers. What if you didn’t panic, just a little, every time a bid closed?
These problems, and others, are exactly what the twin packages of Trimble Business Center and Quest Estimating tackle, and they do it very well.
Takeoff Trouble - How to Get an Accurate Takeoff
When you’re bidding for a job, everything starts with the takeoff. Before you can start working out your price, you need to confirm that the quantities, plans and information provided by the customer are correct. Or, even work out quantities yourself, based on whatever you did receive. You also need detailed information about potential problems, so you can submit any RFIs that might apply.
But verifying information and getting an accurate takeoff is easier said than done.
Scaling information off drawings is usually where we start. But very often, we also have to rely on grainy photos from the site, or maybe, you try to visit the site yourself with a measuring wheel. But when you get there, no brush clearing has been done, and it’s impossible to find any site survey markers. So, you do your best, but it’s a lot of guessing and you’re probably still left with questions when you’re done.
Trimble Business Center changes that, by providing a high-tech and easy-to-use digital takeoff solution.
With Trimble Business Center, you can upload 2D images from PDF or a variety of CAD formats, as well as 3D imaging. You can mark up, calibrate, and measure all the major unit rate quantities you need, and export it all to the Quest estimating system. It’s fast, easy, and most importantly, accurate.
But, with built-in GPS, TBC does even more. Because even if you don’t know where the site markers are, TBC does. So when you’re on-site, checking dimensions and reviewing conditions, Trimble helps out too. On-site or in the office, it’s the takeoff tool you’ve always wished you had.
We all know that every time you transfer data from one spreadsheet, program or handwritten note, there's a high chance that you will make a mistake. Misreading a number, a typo or a misplaced decimal is all it takes to make a catastrophic mistake.
Because Trimble Business Center allows you to export your takeoff data, and import it seamlessly to Trimble Quest, there’s no chance you’ll lose a bid (or your shirt) because of a fat finger mistake.
It also means you’ll never feel that sinking feeling when your bid is either way too high, or worse, way too low! Accuracy you can trust makes all the difference.
Even if you’re pricing a lump sum bid, you know you still need to break your costs down into more detailed bid items with accurate quantities and unit rates. To measure progress, to create an accurate project schedule, to make changes along the way, and to check calculations and assumptions.
Your team will need them later too, to price change orders and prepare progress billing. The Trimble Quest estimating system allows you to create detailed unit rate estimates from first principles, based on your own takeoff quantities or a supplied schedule of rates.
But it does a lot more than that too.
By using a clever system based on cost libraries, you can create ready-to-use calculations and assemblies based on common tasks and products. Attach these to your bid items and adjust as necessary for fast, precise estimating on the fly. They’re an easy way to capitalize on historical and known past project data too. Why reinvent the wheel every time you price a job?
The Quest estimating system does a lot more than that too, with granular permissions, collaboration tools, progress tracking, and almost endless import, export, and reporting options. It helps you understand and control your costs and ensure that your projects remain profitable
So, yes. There’s no software that can replace the skill of a good estimator, but the right software can solve nearly every problem we have, and create accurate, detailed project estimates.
Win more jobs. Use single source data throughout the project lifecycle. Improve profitability. The twin solutions of Trimble Business Center and Trimble Quest do it all, and then some.
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