5 Aha Moments for Estimators


Do you often feel chained to your cell phone? Maybe not, but you probably think life would be bleak without it. Even so, I suspect a few of us ever leverage our mobile devices to their fullest potential. Think of it—we’re basically carrying around a supercomputer in our pocket, yet we tend to use only the functionality that suits our needs. Sound familiar? Many construction professionals are not using their takeoff and estimating software to its fullest capability.

Maybe you’ve mastered the fundamentals and have successfully completed many bids. But there are many other functions that could help you do more work in less time—with increased accuracy. This is never more apparent than when I’m conducting a training session. Suddenly, our customers begin to see the depth and breadth of everything they can do with our takeoff and estimating software. In my experience, everyone who goes through training has at least one (and usually more) Aha! light-bulb moments. Only then do they discover new tips and tricks that can help them in their day-to-day estimating.

For example, here are a few of the more “illuminating” aspects of our takeoff and estimating software. These tips and tricks have consistently proven to be real game-changers for estimators and their construction businesses.

1. Performing Multi-Object Takeoff

For starters, did you know that you can use On-Screen Takeoff to select several takeoff items together and then perform the takeoff for them simultaneously? The upside is that you no longer have to trace an object, such as a concrete slab, once to get the linear footage of the continuous footing and a second time to get the square footage and cubic yardage of the slab itself. Instead, you can trace the area one time and produce all those results in just a few clicks. Pretty exciting, right? When estimators I’ve trained see this function in action, they’re elated at the prospect of how much time it can save.

2. Using Keyboard Shortcuts

Sticking with this idea of saving time, both our takeoff and estimating programs have quite a few keyboard shortcuts that can streamline your work. For instance, want to zoom into a section cut of a drawing faster? We have a shortcut for that. What about panning around the screen to see other areas of the image quickly and easily? Yep, we’ve got one for that too. Need to copy and paste some takeoff that’s mirrored on another image or another part of the page? You guessed it – we’ve got you covered. If you’d like to find out more about our shortcuts, check out this list for takeoff and this list for estimating.

3. Comparing Originals and Revisions Electronically

Nearly every estimator I’ve ever trained is tasked with managing revisions and addendums to the project’s original drawings. For those accustomed to doing their takeoff manually, that means holding both drawings up to a window or putting them on a lightbox to determine where the changes are, which is a pretty manual and time-consuming task. That’s why when estimators realize how our takeoff software allows you to lay one drawing on top of another electronically and see the changes highlighted in bright red and blue, they’re amazed at how simple the process is and how easily they can spot the differences between the drawings. Kinda beats holding paper up to a window, huh? If you’d like to see how this comparison is done, check out this video.

4. Reviewing Total Cost Allocation Across Your Bid

Over on the estimating side, we also have many great tools you may not have had a chance to experiment with yet. For example, when the time comes to evaluate your risk in a bid, in just a few clicks, our software can show you which items make up the majority of your material and labor costs. Seeing that data at-a-glance will enable you to do further analysis, such as deciding whether you’re including the right material or whether you need to add an extra percentage for the escalation of some of your prices (especially if the job doesn’t start for another six months or so). Likewise, in terms of labor, you can scrutinize your production rates and your crew sizes to ensure that they’re on target for the size and scope of the job you’re bidding. Having tools that enable such careful cost analysis can ensure you’ve covered all your bases when you turn in the bid.

5. Saving Lists for Equipment Rental and General Conditions

Do you rent the same equipment items on every job—or at least have a series of things you need for most of your bids? What about general conditions? Do you have a standard list of those that you want to include every time? Rather than having to add in each of those items manually, our estimating software allows you to create lists of common equipment items or standard general conditions and save them in a library. After that’s done, all you have to do is drop the saved list into your bid so those costs are instantly included in your overall number. Pretty cool, right? Our construction takeoff and estimating software can not only increase your efficiency, but also boost your accuracy.

Don’t forget—our training team is always ready to help introduce you to these tools so you can be sure you’re using the software to its fullest capacity and increasing your win rate in the process! If you haven’t taken the leap to faster takeoffs and estimates, you can get started with the industry’s leading takeoff tool.

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