That Extra Step

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Topics: Estimates

That Extra Step!

Dan Turner

Turner Builders, Inc. (since 1954)

The extra step requires more knowledge of your design model...something that many of the older SoftPlan users (old as in Doug Aleshire<G) lament over in the fact that he simply can't draw lines...he has to build that puppy while drawing. It is the honorable USN Seabee in him that causes him to know every step, every cubic/square area and lineal footage and how it all adds up.

How it all adds up is a big question by the client. "How much will this drawing cost me?" is a reasonably good question. A reasonably bad answer would be..."that's up to you and your contractor." In this day and age of your use of SoftPlan products for a model that can tell you all of the usual information necessary to guesstimate the probable costs...with a little more effort, you can have not only a SoftList valuation but a Gantt Chart that allows you to fine tune your guesstimate given the service expense for the approximate term of the construction money.

You don’t have to have the lofty Gantt chart production from MicroSoft Project..although that’s the one that I started with back at the DOS and 4.25" floppies...but you can take your SoftList information and factor it through a variety of construction costing programs that have material costs PLUS man-hours as part of the report.

In this SoftList exchange, you can easily produce a regionally factored price for construction and by using the same man-hour projection, detail out a Gantt Chart with a beginning and end date for a calendar for your client to follow to keep their contractor(s) within reason on both cost and time. It is by no means a "give-a-way"...this is a relatively accurate source of information that I sell along with my drawings that I can alter the start date at their request and the MS Project program will adjust accordingly.

Drawing lines is one thing. Knowing how much those lines will cost and how long those lines will take to install, clad or finish is quite a comfortable feeling when guys like Doug hand over the working drawings. If you’re not construction oriented...hands on...there will be times when contractors and clients will curse you for impossible conditions. Softplan gives you the basis via SoftList to have a heads up on those conditions when used with easily accessed resources.

For me...I keep an ollllld book by "Frank R. Walker Estimating Guides" available for those questions that deal with assumed man-hours for almost all trades and phases as well as CostWorks, National Data, and RS Means for getting a regional value (as detailed by zip code factors). The information is "out there" for everyone to have a "one call does all" sort of facility for residential design work both in new and remodeling projects. Going that extra step...it’s not a nuisance, it’s a fundamental understanding that you can have without ever having to have dug a footing or put the ridge cap on a roof...and...the investment in information sources and software does pay for itself.

While we're still climbing out of the doldrums...take the opportunity to move outside of mass production of drawings and step up a notch to the understanding of how long your little bungalow will take to construct along with a cost projection that may very well allow you to go back into the drawing page and change out a specification or two on the fly as you find the variety of materials/labor prices to meet those final ideas.

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