What does the future hold for estimating?

Fast Forward to the Future...How Will Technology Affect Mechanical & Plumbing Estimating?

August 23, 2016


Construction Estimating has come a long way in the past few decades and it stands today as a vital part of the construction process.

The contactor knows the importance and financial benefits of accuracy within an estimate. There is also the pressure from the general contractor to complete an estimate within a small window of time. Fluctuating material prices add to the mix of challenges affecting estimating. There is no forgiveness on bid day.

You probably hear about what could be the next big thing in construction technology. Maybe it’s the newest app or an updated software, or perhaps another way to utilize the ‘cloud’. No matter what it is, it will likely hold the promise to be an efficient solution to save you time and money. Of course the cost of adding these technologies, updating, learning, training and retraining costs are never disclosed.

For example, a variety of mobile applications have been developed to simplify activities such as checking on building codes and manufacturer specs. There are also several types of estimating software such as Wendes Systems®.

Although the exact technology may be unpredictable, there are three things that will remain true.

1)      Human estimators play the key role in the bidding process.

  • The estimator uses knowledge from being out in the field which does not compare to what a computer or algorithm would recognize.
  • A good comparison to this is a language translator: If you type a sentence into a translator on your phone, it will spit out the literal translation and often times it changes the actual meaning of the sentence.  We cannot rely on computers to interpret all things without also identifying the context or outside factors that play in to the meaning as well.
    • Estimators can see the bigger picture while having great attention to detail
    • There is no standardization of design

2)      Estimating software and technology is a tool.

  • The software does not perform the estimating
  • Garbage in EQUALS garbage out

3)      Estimators will need to learn how to work with the emerging technology to keep their firms competitive edge.

  • An estimator paired with the best software will not be successful unless he or she has had sufficient training and knowledge of the specific trade
  • Some firms may choose to stick to completing certain tasks manually, but they will run the risk of not making quick turn arounds and short bid dates.

Estimating technology will continue to advance and change, but the estimator will still need to have input to manage the companies competitive edge. This technology helps to keep the vast materials used in a construction project manageable and accurate. Technology paired with the estimator, owner, and project manager increases competiveness, accuracy and the bottom line.


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