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  • #987904
    Colette Stewart
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    Hi

    I am hoping there are a few other small residential building companies out there, who would be happy to share what software (if any) they use to prepare their quotes.

    We have for many years, produced all our quotes manually, and also sent out the plans to most of our key contractors to price their portion of the work. However, we are getting too many quotes ( and that’s a good thing, right) to keep doing this. So I am really looking for building companies who use dedicated software to produce their quotes, and whats good and bad about the software they use.

    I have trialled a few quoting software packages, and also had demos on a number of them, and I am still unsure what to go for. Most cost around $3500-$7000 and will take some time to set up, so I need to get this right from the start.

    As we work on custom new homes, and also extensions and renovations, each of our quotes will be completely different, but we are now unable ( or unwilling) to spend 2 days quoting a job that we don’t always win.

    Any advice would be extremely welcome.

    Thanks in advance
    Colette

    #1164799
    Greg_M
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    I’m not in quite the same area as you ( I have been in the past).

    I now work mainly for commercial subcontractors doing their take off’s, estimating and contract admin, so I have had a fair bit to do with this type of software.

    Personal opinion I guess, but I found all of them pretty ordinary … expensive, slow to learn, and they aren’t very flexible (their way, or no way).

    IMO, the slowest and hardest part of getting the estimate up, is the actual material “take off” and marking up drawings. Once you have a BOQ, rating it in a spreadsheet is a better option.

    Most (all) jobs I do now have digital drawings, printing paper ones is too slow, expensive and a pain to manage when you’re quoting multiple jobs. If your printing for subbies as well, the cost is off the air.

    I measure everything digitally off screens, which produces a BOQ I can drop straight into a spreadsheet.

    I use a few different methods/software to measure … but the one I use mainly is around the $300 mark, and does most jobs well.

    If you want email me, I’ll send you a link to what I use …

    I’m currently developing this site; aimed a screen measuring for subbies, so you can get contact details there, or my contact details via my signature will work too.

    Cheers

    #1164801
    bwpcarpentry
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    Hey Colette,

    I am also looking at software to help me with quoting. What did you end up going with?

    Cheers,

    Brodie

    #1164802
    Colette Stewart
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    bwpcarpentry, post: 216486, member: 68779 wrote:
    Hey Colette,

    I am also looking at software to help me with quoting. What did you end up going with?

    Cheers,

    Brodie

    Hi Brodie

    We are still looking at software, and also seriously considering the possibility of continuing to quote manually. For us the risk of getting it wrong (particularly with large/expensive jobs) is too high.

    The reasons for leaning towards manually quoting are:

    · The investment in dollars and also in time makes any quoting software a considerable risk

    · Whilst I have looked at and trialed numerous programs, there isn’t one (so far) that covers all aspects of quoting

    · We enlisted the services of an experienced estimator to quote the build costs for a luxury home, but even that proved inaccurate, with costs approximately 10% understated. The estimator used Databuild- which is supposedly one of the best estimating packages out there

    I am sorry that this is not really the reply you were hoping for, and not knowing what type of work you are quoting, this may not be totally relevant to you. I do hope you find something that you are confident with. If you do, I would love to hear about it.

    Kind Regards

    Colette

    #1164803
    Greg_M
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    Kind of fell back into this post by default and have just removed the link in my original reply to a now, non existent website.

    I decided I was “over it” and don’t use any of them, or work in the industry any longer.

    But I was interested to note Colette’s comment that they still haven’t found one to suit … not surprised really.

    The one thing I found essential, regardless of the usefulness of the actual take off software was the ability to “mark up” digital drawings on screen so you don’t get lost … anyone doing it regularly will know what I mean.

    To save answering any further PM’s on a post that’s come back from the dead (happy to help though).

    This is the two that I used;

    http://www.bluebeam.com

    and:

    http://www.quickeye.co (this one is rare – it works on a Mac)

    Average estimators are a dime a dozen … good ones name their own price, it’s close to an art form when done well, and no software will overcome that. It may improve your workflow that’s all.

    Cheers

    #1164804
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    Guys,
    Thanks for the info. I will be taking off in January. I just finished the first draft of my business plan which is with the accountant. I have the old mortgage broker looking into the finance side of the house so I am about to start on my SOPs. I am coming at the trade from a different angle having been doing construction in the military for a number of years. This will be my first step into the world of residental/commercial construction. The Army may be a little dated but I always fall back on the Australianj Standard Method of Measurement and do that manually for most jobs. When working on $100M+ jobs as a PM we outsourced to a QS (with the same reliability issues). (time is not a factor in that business).

    When using the manual method I relied on Rawlinsons or Cordells to get the baseline and we had our own quote/purchasing system to get the BOM cost fairly accurate. As a one man show I won’t have that luxury. I am looking at this exact problem right now and was considering the Cordell on line system. Has anyone tried this?

    Greg, thanks for the links I will check them out.

    Cheers

    Craig

    #1164805
    Greg_M
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    I’ve used Rawlinsons a lot over the years, Cordell never really grabbed me, but that’s a very long time ago. I sniffed around their online system but it smelled expensive and didn’t really suit what I was doing.

    I think any system that has a “pricing model” built in, is a bit of a worry. Most of them are OK as a guide, but that’s all.

    If you accept that premise I couldn’t see any point in having more than Rawlinsons as a guide when tackling something without any “historical cost” to work from … which is why I went for straight take off and mark up software.

    Also as I was doing a lot of single trade take offs, most clients had a very good idea of their historical costs, and had their finger on the pulse of what prices the market would bear.

    Like I said, winning a job (and making a profit) is more of an art form than a process in the open market.

    #1164806
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    I have a one on one online demo of Cordells system tomorrow. I’ll let you know how it goes. I am sceptical About its “accounting” side; by their admission it is very basic. Makes you wonder why they didn’t stick with what they do best.

    I also checked out Jobpac, which is accounting with an estimating package. I will let you know what they get back to me with as well.

    cheers

    Craig

    #1164807
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    Guys,

    It has been an interesting morning – apart from the -9 temperature and frozen pipes so no water!

    The online Cordells demo was very good. Quick, very easy to use and in a format that I am used to. The take off tool was very easy to use with a one off licence fee of $1550. The online estimator is around $9K for the first three years (including set up and training) and then drops down to around $4K in three year intervals after that. So definitely an expensive option for a start up – but it would be a great tool for a QS or larger builder.

    JobPac explained their system which does just about everything but estimating so it is off track for this topic. This is for the big boys at $50K set up and an ongoing cloud based cost that we didn’t get to discuss.

    SoftPlan is sending me out a demo – this is a CAD program with an add on that spits out takeoffs direct from the program. (if you buy it as a package). It can also do estimating from other CAD drawings. It comes in at $4.5K for the package. Saves purchasing a CAD and estimating program perhaps.

    BuildSoft provide a 14 day free trial and an online demo. It appears to be an excellent estimating program direct from pdf or CAD. This program is intuitive and easy to use, and can link in with Cordell’s electronic cost guide. This looks the goods as far as the take off and estimating goes. A real time saver at around $3K – still need to add on a CAD program.

    BlueBeam is more cumbersome and time consuming than BuildSoft, but comes in at around 15% of the price. I guess the decision here is what your time is worth and how proficient you are. I like the system and for the price it does and excellent job.

    I will be trialling those that I can in the near future and will let you know which way I decide to jump. At this stage I like the ease of BuildSoft but will see how it stacks up against SoftPlan. Of course there is still the need to have an accurate cost base.

    Definitely as much art as there is science in this area.

    Cheers Craig

    #1164808
    checkvault
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    Hey Colette,

    You can have a look at our quoting software on CheckVault and see if it interests you. One thing you’d like is that there’s no cost to use it, as it’s a medium through which we enable our main service which is online escrow.

    But the quoting includes all features like

    • Viewing all your quotes in one place
    • Sending reminders on them
    • Duplicating quotes
    • Withdrawing them if there’s no response.
    • Branding utility so you can put your logo and other branding related material + text in the design to make it look good. We offer some help there too from our end
    • Clients receive the quote via email as a link to view online or a link to an automatically generated PDF
    • Quote acceptance can be done online. Quotes can be declined online with a reason as to why it was declined.
    • If you’ve provided options in your quote, the client can then choose to include them or not include them as a part of their acceptance. So it’s a good way to up-sell something.
    • And then if the quote is accepted and you’ve offered to accept payment using CheckVault then it automatically generates references for your clients. We generate BPAY from Savings, BPAY from Credit card, direct credit card payment link or simple EFT references ( so lots of options there).
    • Or you can choose to provide your own bank details if you don’t want to go down the escrow route. So it’s flexible that way too.

    Give me a yell if you need any help setting up your account.

    Hopefully you find what you’re looking for :)

    UPDATE: I just read your question a bit more closely and found that you work in the construction industry which is where a lot of our major clients are currently from. And if you do end up using the escrow side of things as well, the system is built to cater to variations, document handling, internal messaging etc. so that’s also an added bonus ;).

    Cheers,

    #1164809
    bwpcarpentry
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    Hey again,

    Great responses from everyone. I personally really appreciate it.

    I did a demo with Tom from quickeye on Saturday morning (he is in america so there is limited times that are suitable for a demo/meeting) and the program seems relatively easy to use once you get used to things. The cost of the program is quite cheap at US$39.99 per month and apparently you can stop using it for a couple of months and then pay for a month and all of your account settings and data will still be there (so only pay for what you use essentially). Quickeye looks like it can take a little bit to set up your database (a minute per item), but once they are set up I can see it seriously saving time.

    I just ordered some Cordell cost guide books today that cost $990 to give me a guide to work off for pricing. I also looked at Rawlinsons construction guide book which is $278. Big price difference but from the samples I looked at Cordell’s seemed easier for me to read and they through in a commercial cost guide as well. I got a demo with the internet based Cordell cost guide which is $1755. The only real difference between it and the books is that it is updated weekly instead of quarterly (mainly affects materials costs, not labour) and it can essentially form a spreadsheet of costs for you. For the price difference I am quite happy finding the prices and using Microsoft Excel.

    I hope this information can help everyone as much as what other people who have contributed have helped me with their information.

    Cheers,

    Brodie

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