Most Popular Articles in DCD

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Today’s New Construction Estimator

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For many in my profession, traditional roles and duties have developed into something that “old school” construction estimators wouldn’t necessarily recognize. Maybe a better verb for the previous sentence would be “transformed”, or perhaps even more appropriate, “evolved”. It isn’t uncommon for modern day estimators to wear even more hats than in the past. We’ve always had to have some of the same skills that other professionals have, even those outside of the construction industry. Sharing skills with architects, engineers, lawyers, and accountants has always been critical to the success of the estimator, but what we do with those skills is what has changed, especially in the last 10 years. Read More »

Tags: Costs, Estimating Construction

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Construction Estimating Pitfalls and Pratfalls

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Construction estimating can be an interesting and harrowing grind. It can sometimes be equated to the study of Geology, as once described to this writer by a Yellowstone Park Ranger: “long and interminable periods of boredom followed by moments of total helplessness and complete panic.” People who do well at it may also be fire-eaters who would thrive while whipping unsociable dragons. They seem to feed off stress, and the more hectic things get, the clearer they think, and the more quietly they speak. Read More »

Tags: Costs, Estimating Construction

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Benefits beyond the Bid

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Estimating with precision and profit margin is no easy task. Creating estimates can be an extremely time-consuming and risk-laden task for contractors. Profit margins have decreased at the time of bidding, making efficiency and accuracy of vital importance. Overbidding will result in a lack of business; underbidding can be devastating to a company’s bottom line. Read More »

Tags: Costs, Estimating Construction

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Losing Your Shirt under Perfect Control

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I once heard the Critical Path Method (CPM) defined as a management technique for losing your shirt under perfect control! Not so funny if you have ever been at the management end of a tight timeline, in an old facility, around ongoing operations with the concrete truck on its way and the formwork delayed because the backhoe is out of fuel. Welcome to the world of construction: stuff happens! With construction, nothing is ever really under “perfect control,” but with the right systems in place you can get fairly close. Read More »

Tags: Costs, Estimating Construction

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Changes in Construction Law for 2015

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Seventeen states have made changes to their construction contract law in the last few months. My partial list is below. Some of these changes are trivial;others will affect contractors throughout the state. Don’t expect to find much on this list that makes your life easier -- that’s not how it works. Unfortunately, most changes in the law make it harder for contractors to earn a living. Read More »

Tags: Costs, Estimating Construction

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The Estimating Process; Get it Right!

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The estimating process begins with a thorough understanding (and visualization) of the project's scope of work. Architects and engineers define scope in plans and specifications, but for construction estimating, this scope is incomplete. Successful "hard bid" contractors know very well that scoping construction goes well beyond the Architect/Engineer scope and must include field-specific scope. The realities of the jobsite, such as weather, ongoing operations, soils conditions, access/egress, security, safety, site layout, environment protection and other context scope must be considered, as well as the means and methods by which the work will be executed. These all impact the overall cost of the project. Read More »

Tags: Costs, Estimating Construction

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Technology is Transforming the Construction Office and the Job Site

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The use of electronic plans is now widely accepted in the construction industry. These documents and images are easily loaded into software—therefore dramatically reducing plan printing and storage costs. The plans reside on a server or a computer hard drive for years without any fading or deterioration in quality. Best of all, they eliminate the need to store bulky blueprints and file boxes in your warehouse. Read More »

Tags: Costs, Estimating Construction, More, Construction Management

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Costing Construction

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Budgetary estimating is just another pesky necessity that gets in the way of progress on a construction project. There always seems to be someone asking “how much is it going to cost?” The budget estimate is just another task that takes from the already-limited time in an estimator’s day. Read More »

Tags: Costs, Estimating Construction

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Real World Advantages of Conceptual Estimating and BIM

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The old saying “You Get What You Pay For” can be applied to conceptual estimating in many cases. An estimate with little or no detail can lead to budget problems during the design process. The best opportunity to have the most impact on the overall project budget is early in the design process. It is through this experience that Clark Construction Company has adopted BIM technology to assist our pre-construction estimating efforts. Read More »

Tags: Costs, Estimating Construction

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It’s a Hard, Hard, Hard (Bid) World

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Many construction firms today face the daunting prospect of bidding on insufficiently defined plans and specifications against a large number of other firms. In 2008, the nonresidential market peaked at $715 billion put in place, with roughly one-third in areas where lump sum is the usual, or most frequent, delivery method. Firms that developed strong customer and subcontractor relationships to participate in this negotiated market may find themselves ill-equipped to be competitive in today’s bid environment. However, by refocusing on the “why” of hard bidding, firms can identify the strategic and tactical “how” actions that will allow for a greater level of confidence and success in procuring lump-sum work. Read More »

Tags: Costs, Estimating Construction

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Nail Estimating with Constructible Models

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The beauty of modeling in 3D is the incredible clarity it brings to the job. A 3D model improves planning, coordination, communication and construction by supplying the detailed project information needed to build a structure that meets the design intent. The more detail the model contains, the fewer construction problems arise. This high level of detail allows the kinks to be worked out of the plans well before the first excavator lumbers onto the jobsite. Read More »

Tags: Costs, Estimating Construction

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A Testament to the Estimate

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How can the upfront powerhouse of estimators be armored to win the battle of the bid? By using seamless construction software for takeoff and estimating, thus streamlining processes and automating tasks. Contemporary software for construction estimating helps contractors be more efficient, increase accuracy, reduce costs, and ultimately improve profitability. Read More »

Tags: Costs, Estimating Construction

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Use Mobile Apps to Keep Track of Your Labor

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Ask any business that employs an outdoor, roaming or remote workforce and they will tell you that labor management is their biggest, and least controllable, expense. Yet many of these companies still use paper time cards or other imprecise methods to keep track of their workers’ daily hours. These costly menaces suck the profits out of thousands of companies every year. From missing time cards and inaccurate hours to the time drain of driving out to multiple job sites to collect the timesheets—everyone agrees that it’s one big costly, time-consuming hassle. Read More »

Tags: Costs, Estimating Construction, More, Construction Management

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Ignoring Historical Data Can Have Disastrous Consequences

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The jurors solemnly filed back into the courtroom. After seven weeks of trial, it only took only 2½ hours to reach a decision. The courtroom was silent as the clerk read the verdicts one by one on the six matters to be decided. On all six, the jury unanimously awarded the City of Victorville $52.1 million against Carter & Burgess, a large engineering firm. To this day it is the largest verdict in the history of Riverside County, California. Read More »

Tags: Costs, Estimating Construction, Legal

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Designing to a Budget

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The smart owner works closely with his architect in both the planning and design phases. The result is that the owner achieves his optimum building design within his budget. The owner should clearly establish the budget from the start — before signing any contract with an architect — and hold the architect to that budget. Read More »

Tags: Costs, Estimating Construction

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Bid Day Techniques

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Once an estimating team learns the mechanics of bid preparation, it can begin performing quite effectively. The team's next goal is to ensure the estimate it submits at the bid opening is complete. Using the following essential techniques will help accomplish this. Read More »

Tags: Costs, Estimating Construction

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Estimating for Unfair Advantage

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With an increasing amount of bidders out there bidding more and winning less, contractors need every trick in the book to find and win work. There is no honor in coming in second on a bid. It may feel better than being ranked number 7 out of 8, but the time and effort invested still didn’t win the job. Read More »

Tags: Costs, Estimating Construction

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Daycare Center Renovation Costs

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Once a maintenance manager has decided to acquire an aerial work platform for his department, the next step is to decide on the best lift for the price and the planned use. This article attempts to walk managers through the issues of deciding on and acquiring the best aerial lift for their needs. Read More »

Tags: Costs, Estimating Construction