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Computer Software Does It Help The Building Construction Estimator
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The introduction of computer software to help building construction estimator in the last 30 years has been good in some ways, but can cause a mistake that causes a job to go from a money maker to one that is a looser. The building construction estimator should have a knowledge of the construction process to be a good estimator.

In the beginning I started to see computers as a tool in the construction offices in the 1980s the programs were starting to come out for job tracking. My first PC was one that you had to imbed codes on the screen to make the program do what you wanted. It took me almost a month to make a template of for word processing that I used, then I started on a spread sheet program by the time I finished imbedding all the coding for the spreadsheet program I had to watch out that I had enough memory left to perform the math functions I wanted the program to do. I bought a commodore 64 portable computer it had a 5”x5” screen and was the size of a small suit case that you would probably have to pay extra to put on a plane today, but it made it easy to do my paperwork and keep track of materials on site.

Advent of DOS The first computer that had a DOS system on it was a whopping 20 meg system, with Microsoft we had WORD a word processing system and EXCEL the mathematical spreadsheet system. I wrote contracts with WORD and made up an estimating spreadsheet using the EXCEL program using information I pulled out of estimating books and also using my own experience in the trades, as at this time I was working as a Supervisor for construction companies doing work in the multimillion dollar market. When I showed the Owner of the company I was working for my estimating spread sheet he thought it was just a toy, so he gave me a small job to price I had it priced up in half the time doing it part time. It took building construction estimator in the office twice as long working full time to price it. The part that the owner couldn’t believe was both estimates were almost identical bottom line. From then on I was pressed into service as a building construction estimator whenever they had projects to bid, whereas the building construction estimator became a project manager and safety officer.

Estimating Programs The first estimating programs did all the calculation for you but did not have any labor prices and material prices in them, you had to accumulate our own data base or if you have jobs of a similar nature you had to check what the closeout costs were, use that to put all the information into your estimating program yourself, as your data base grew the building construction estimator had an easier time pricing jobs and at a faster pace. Within a few years the companies that supplied the cost books started to put the information on disks so now you had a spread sheet that you could pick items from and put them in the estimate, now the building construction estimator could become even more efficient and a project estimate could be completed in half the time that it was done before. The only catch was that the building construction estimator had to be computer literate.


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