The Top Ten Things For An Estimating System

By: Nick Hurd

10 Interface with Microsoft Word have a report writer
The estimate you present to your customer is a reflection of your professionalism. Typically, it’s left behind for them to review and compare to other contractor’s estimates. If it’s chicken scratching on the back of an envelope or just some numbers printed out it’s not going to compare favorably with the estimates prepared by other contractors.

If the "finishing touches" on your estimate are done through Word, or a report writer, you can customize the estimate to make it look absolutely fabulous. You can add your contract terms, pictures (a picture is worth a thousand words) of what you’re going to do, before and after pictures of other jobs, etc. Your estimate will be on the top of the heap. You will get jobs where your bid is not the lowest because of the professional look of your estimate.

9. Synchronize your laptop and your desktop
Many contractors have a laptop computer they take out to the field and a desktop computer in the office that they use when they are in the office. Does this sound like the way you work? It’s important that you have an easy way to synchronize the information on your laptop with the information on your desktop. This means that you don’t lose any of your work on either computer.

Also, the system must allow you to use the program on your laptop as well as your desktop with one license so you don’t have to purchase two copies of the program. This saves you money and gives flexibility.

8. Produce a material list so you can get exact pricing from your suppliers
You will find that material lists are important because you can get exact pricing for the materials for your job. A detail list of the specific quantities of each material can be sent to your suppliers and they will respond with the prices you will have to pay for each of the materials.

This means that you can use those prices in your estimate so you will be right "on the money" for your material prices. This means that you won’t lose money because your material prices were out of date.

7. Allow notes in your estimate
Being able to add notes to your estimates is important for several reasons:

1. You can remind yourself why you estimated a line, or a section, a particular way so when you’re looking at the estimate a week or a month from now you’ll understand what you were thinking. I don’t know about you, but I will look at something I did a week ago and wonder what I was thinking when I did it.

2. You can describe what you are doing in specific areas of the job, like what material you’re going to use and why. This allows you to demonstrate to your customer that you understand what needs to be done and how you’re going to do it. You also have a written agreement on how specific items are going to be handled because it’s and integral part of the estimate.

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Nick Hurd is the developer of LiteningFast(TM) Estimating an easy to use construction estimating software program that is integrated with QuickBooks® To get the rest of the "Top Ten List of Estimating System Must Haves" go to

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