Remodelers looking to set up an estimating database have to ask themselves questions first, says Tim Englert. Here are some of the key issues:
What software do you want to use, and how do you want to break down the categories? This is actually two questions, as each software can be reconfigured to fit a remodeler’s needs. Englert recommends HomeTech’s estimating categories, but others are available, including Timberline’s accounting and estimating program and CSI’s version, which is more geared to commercial construction.
What kind of information do you want to receive? Software can provide a variety of reports in various formats, depending on how the remodeler wants to track business.
What do you want to put into your job-cost system? How will you track price updates, and how do you want to group products and activities to save time on similar projects?
How much detail do you want to receive? Are you looking for the big picture and exceptions to the usual, or do you want to see details of each estimate?
How adaptable is the system to price changes? Especially when commodity prices are volatile, it’s best to use a system that allows manual changes for specific projects without changing the base prices encoded in the system. Englert waits several months before changing pricing on products that tend to jump up and down frequently.
Who are your clients? Are they willing to share the risk and allow you to bill by the hour, or do they want to pay a set price regardless of what is found behind the walls?
Stick vs. Unit
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