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7 common construction estimating mistakes – and how to avoid them

8 minute read 

Creating quick and accurate estimates is one of the necessary essential functions to winning jobs and running a successful residential construction business. It takes a lot of time, and if you’re still creating them by hand or Excel, there’s more potential for costly errors.

Here’s a look at the most common hurdles that come with construction estimating—and how implementing cost estimating software can make you much more efficient and accurate.

Construction estimating mistake 1: understanding growth and work

A growing business is great for the bottom line but not great for your workload if you’re shouldering the estimating process yourself.

Putting together a high-quality estimate for just one project might take you a day or more, depending on the detail and resources involved. Getting quotes from subbies when building estimates alone is very labour-intensive—sending information, attachments, and measurements to three to four email addresses, then following up those contacts for a response.

You can automate all the above with construction estimating software, so you don’t spend more than half a workweek sitting with pen and paper into the night.

Construction estimating mistake 2: taking shortcuts 

While a small but growing number of builders may be successfully justifying charging customers for the work involved in putting together build quotes, for the majority of construction businesses, estimating remains a pro-bono task.

Odds are, like most residential builders, a lot of the time you spend doing your estimates is after-hours at the end of a busy day and/or on your weekends. Often then, the temptation is to cut the occasional corner. Maybe you don’t seek out multiple quotes for the sub-contracted work you might need. Perhaps you don’t take the time to shop around for better prices from suppliers.

Construction estimating software is the time-saving solution that means you don’t have to take shortcuts like guesstimating measurements based on previous similar projects, all of which can lead to inaccurate bids.

Construction estimating mistake 3: poor interactions with suppliers 

Because you’re sending so many requests, it’s easy to get sloppy, perhaps even just sending out one-off emails about framing timber. It can impact your relationships with suppliers and set the wrong tone if you’re hoping to receive professional quotes in return.  

Communicate more effectively and efficientlywith building estimating software that automatically sends and keeps track of an email or text with your preferred suppliers. 

Construction estimating mistake 4: unprofessional bids

Accurate bids are a must, but regardless of the numbers, your prospective clients are also looking for a quote that looks smart and professional. 

Your estimate is a huge part of your brand, so making a good initial impression with the bid document you ultimately provide for their consideration is vital. But that doesn’t mean you have to spend hours worrying about presentation. Let your construction estimating software take care of the quotes branding aesthetic so you can inspire confidence in your ability to deliver what your clients want. 

After all, you’re asking someone to trust you to build their house, the most significant investment they’re ever likely to make. In their eyes, an unprofessional bid may signal unprofessional work if they hire you. 

Construction estimating mistake 5: time disadvantage

Like it or not, the first company that gets a bid submitted has an advantage—everyone else will have to justify why their bid is more or less expensive than the first one. Unfortunately, paying someone else to put together the estimate can take even longer than doing it yourself. Your supplier may have a backlog, and an offshore hire could take weeks and won’t guarantee a level of quality.

Speed up your estimating time by up to 80% with building estimating software that ensures all your I’s are dotted and all your T’s are crossed in one single automated platform with complete confidence.

Construction estimating mistake 6: inaccuracies 

Compiling estimates via pen and paper and Excel creates so many opportunities to introduce mistakes — transferring information from a supplier email to a spreadsheet and then to a proposal by hand —and keystroke errors.

Cloud-based construction estimating software ensures that your data is up to date in real-time.

Construction estimating mistake 7: selling on price 

Some builders think the price is all that matters and is the only aspect of winning a bid. Good builders know how to sell their value and their work. For example, you may include a line item for a site supervisor who will be on the job every day to ensure the project elements are followed. But you have to sell yourself and the reason that your bid is a little higher.

Builders who make those elements part of their story are the ones who will win the work. Construction management software streamlines your processesand gives your story more clout.

A better way to estimate your residential construction projects

These challenges are why so many builders – like you – are up all night and missing out on family time. Labouring over project bids without any confidence that your work stands a good chance of landing you the job.

But the good news is that there’s a better way that can eliminate all these burdens, streamline your process, boost your efficiencies – and win some of your life back.

Buildxact’s easy-to-use estimating software for residential builders helps you create estimates in a fraction of the time and produce accurate, professional bids. Bids that give you and your prospective clients the confidence that everything has been properly considered and can be delivered – on time and on budget.

Save time with construction estimating software

From an on-screen takeoff tool to reusable estimate templates, Buildxact eliminates repetitive entry and transferring data from one program to another. You cando takeoffs 80% fasterand create quotes five times faster. It not only gets you away from the desk and back into the field, but it also ensures you’re first through the gate with your quotes.  

Estimating shortcuts without shortcomings 

Estimating software, like Buildxact, is your shortcut.

Instead of basing your quantities on measurements from roughly similar jobs you may have done in the past, with Buildxact, you measure the wall length with the digital takeoff tool.

It does the calculations for you, determines the precise materials required for that element of the project, and ensures you end up with an accurate quote that matches reality when you get to work on site.

What’s more, Buildxact’s checklist-style estimates ensure you never miss an item, boosting your accuracy and confidence.

Nurture positive interactions with subs and suppliers

Sending pricing requests through Buildxact results in consistent, professional communication with your subbies and suppliers. You can even connect with supplier pricing listsfor additional automation. Buildxact’s estimating software automates the RFQ process, sending bid requests to subcontractors and saving you the trouble of replicating for multiple bids.

And with cloud accessibility, you can access your bids anywhere you have an internet connection. It also means you don’t have to waste time with document management, spending time organising files, updating file permissions, emailing, and attaching files to other team members, and other challenges with a manual process.

Estimating software leaves a professional impression 

Once you’ve completed an estimate, Buildxact provides a branded, professional-looking quote for your customers. You can even add product photos for additional stand-out detail. This step gives your customers confidence about the level of work your business provides.

Try Buildxact

The easiest way to see how Buildxact‘s cloud-based construction management software can ease the estimating burden is to take it for a spin.  

Try Buildxact for a 14-day risk-free trial. Or if you’d prefer to talk with one of our team members, schedule a no-obligation one-on-one demonstration.

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