5 ways to estimate faster and more accurately

Save time, increase your efficiency and maximise your profit  

Do you spend days doing takeoffs using paper plans and a scale ruler? Do you go back and forth with your supplier to get accurate pricing for your estimates, only to then find out that your customer has chosen another builder or trade, one that quoted them faster? There’s a better way.

It’s no secret that estimating is one of the most challenging yet important elements of the job – the accuracy or inaccuracy of an estimate can make or break a business’ profitability, especially now with material prices changing daily.

Using estimating software can help you streamline your entire estimating process, from doing takeoffs, to creating estimates and sending out professional quotes, setting your construction business up for success.

Here are five easy ways you can improve the way you estimate:

1. Swap the paper plans and scale ruler for digital takeoffs

You may have learnt how to do takeoffs when you were an apprentice first starting out. Chances are back then there wasn’t any takeoff software and using paper plans and a scale ruler was the only way to do a takeoff. With this comes the risk of human-error – an incorrect calculation can cause problems all the way down to when you invoice for the job.

Thankfully times have changed and there’s takeoff software such as Buildxact that you can use to do takeoffs online up to 80% faster. Digital takeoffs help you estimate faster and a lot more accurately, paying off later down the line when it comes to your profit.

2. Use a templated checklist, even for custom builds

Creating a templated checklist with different categories is a great way to make sure that you don’t forget anything in your estimate. Whether you’re creating an estimate for an extension, renovation, double storey or kitchen and bathroom, having a checklist means you’ll be covered. As each project is different, having the ability to add or remove items in your checklist is key.

A lot of builders use Excel to do their checklists, but it means your checklist isn’t automatically synced to the rest of your business systems. When you use software programs such as Buildxact, you can estimate using a range of prebuilt checklist templates. Once you win the job and you’re managing the finances, you can easily see where an item may have gone over into the red. Simply go back and adjust the costs in your estimate checklist to avoid the same thing happening on your next job. You’ll have peace of mind first time, every time.

3. Integrate with supplier pricelists

There’s nothing worse than creating an estimate when you don’t have the most up-to-date pricing. Often when you‘re estimating, you need to call the supplier to check the price of multiple items and when it comes time to order materials, you need to check again.

Within Buildxact, you can access your supplier’s pricelist, right in the platform. Use it to do takeoffs, estimates and quotes – it’ll help you save time, increase your efficiency and maximise your profit.

4. Use recipes/formulas

Using recipes (also called formulas) saves you heaps of time because all the calculations are done for you. Normally, you would do a takeoff, then work out the quantity of every item you need (like how many studs in a wall) and remember to add all the components you need (like a bottom plate and top plate).

With recipes, all the components you need are packaged together, so you can simply do the takeoff and the quantities are automatically calculated. This speeds up the estimating process and makes your estimate as accurate as possible. So, to complete a pine wall estimation, simply trace along the wall and you’re good to go!

5. Manage your RFQs to subbies online

Getting quotes from your subbies for your estimates can be a lot less hassle than what it is now. Instead of calling them individually, you can send your RFQs (request for quotes) directly from Buildxact and then review and accept quotes in real time. Once you’ve selected your subbie’s quote, simply add it to your estimate. By streamlining this whole process online, you’ll be able to track the communication between you and your subbies, save a tonne of time, and increase your efficiency.

Sounds great, but what next? 

The good news is that you can estimate using all these features in Buildxact. Designed for residential builders and trades who want to streamline their estimating process, Buildxact is easy to get started with and simple to use.

Get started today:

  1. Start a free trial and check out Buildxact for yourself
  2. Book a one-on-one demo where one of the Buildxact team take you through how it can help your business.

And don’t forget to mention that you’re a Carpentry Australia member in order to receive a 10% discount if you decide to subscribe to Buildxact.