How to Apply & Qualify for a Home Improvement Loan

 

Your home requires both short term and long term maintenance to increase its life span and maintain its market value. Failure to apply a proper maintenance schedule on your home may result in the physical deterioration of its elements as well as depreciation of its market value. This is not what a homeowner expects or desires. One thing that makes homeowners reluctant to apply a long term maintenance plan on their property are the costs of home improvement or long term maintenance. When you delay maintenance on your property, damage due to wear, tear, staining, cracks and breakage will escalate, reaching a state where your property is beyond repair. The cost of refurbishments will increase and you might be forced to demolish the whole building.

If you don’t have funds to repair or renovate your home, one possible option is applying for a home improvement loan at a bank or lending company. Before you apply for a loan, there are things that you have to know, decide on and put in order if you want to increase your chances for loan approval.

Do You Have a Positive Credit Record?

All banks and lending companies will look at your credit history and rating before they make a decision. If your borrowing history is tainted with payment defaults, late payments, overdrafts and bankruptcy, you will find it hard to be approved for a loan. However, hope is not lost. There are many ways of cleaning up your credit history. These include debt refinancing, debt consolidation and making an effort to pay when you are in a good financial state. Once your debts are cleared, you can apply for a home loan with confidence.

Do You Have a Cost Estimate or Renovations Quote?

It’s not wise to apply for a loan when you don’t know the cost and scope of the renovations. Find a Quantity Surveyor or Construction Estimator to measure the works and prepare an estimate. If you can’t get hold of a Quantity Surveyor, get a quote from a contractor. They will come to your house to get site measurements and pictures. They will then prepare quote based on the scope of the works.

Secured or Unsecured Loan

Home improvement loans are either secured or unsecured. You have to decide which of the two is good for your circumstances. A secured loan requires collateral or guarantee of security. This collateral is usually in the form of a residential property. You must be the owner of this property or home. The lending company will ask you to provide a valuation of your home. This involves a lot of paperwork so make sure that your valuation is certified by a property valuer to make the process smooth and legit. The advantage of a secured loan is that you will access to a high loan amount that is often enough for large-scale renovations. However, the disadvantage is that you need to secure the loan against your house or property, so you can’t apply for this loan if you don’t own a home. The most common type of secured loan for home repairs and improvements is a HELOC (Home Equity Line of Credit). A HELOC allows you to draw sums of money when you need them. It includes a revolving line of credit that is available when you need it. The borrowing ceiling is very high and you can use this line of credit for renovation projects with large amounts of provisional items (i.e. unknown items and contingencies). There is a variation of this loan which is simply known as a HEL (Home Equity Loan). A HEL does not have a revolving line of credit but it’s a one-time lump sum payment that is deposited in your bank account. The advantage of a Home Equity Loan (HELOC or HEL) is that you can lock in an interest rate (APR) in advance, or you can just use the default variable rate that will change with time and market conditions. With a HELOC, you are given an initial timeframe to draw funds for your project (e.g. 5 years), and thereafter a period for repayment.

For those who don’t own homes or real estate, your option is an unsecured loan. This is the easiest loan to get if you have an acceptable credit score, permanent employment and monthly income. To qualify for this loan, you are required to submit your documents (proof of income, credit history etc.) to a bank or lending company. The loan is usually processed quickly within 24 to 48 hours, and the loan may be deposited in your bank account on the same day. As with any loan, your interest rates depend on the loan amount, period and credit score.

Where to Apply for Home Improvement Loans

There are various institutions that provide home loans. These include banks, lending companies and financial services. Here are some of the companies that you can try:

Prosper – Loans from $2000 to $35,000

BECU – Home equity loans up to $500,000, Unsecured loans up to $25,000

LendingClub – Unsecured loans up to $40,000

KeyBank – Unsecured loans from $5,000 and above

LightStream (SunTrust Bank) – Unsecured loans up to $100,000, minimum amount – $5,000

WoodForest National Bank – Unsecured loans up to $10,000 and above

Wells Fargo Bank

  • HELOC minimum borrowing amount – $25,000
  • Unsecured loan $500 minimum for credit card financing
  • Unsecured Personal Loan – $3,000 minimum amount
  • Unsecured Personal Line of Credit (PLOC) – $3,000 to $100,000

SunTrust Bank – Unsecured loan $5,000 to $100,000

Barclays Bank – Unsecured loan 1,616.40 to 59,498.40 GBP

NatWest – Unsecured loan 1,000 to 50,000 GBP

Discover – Loans from $35,000 to $150,000

10 Lending Companies & Banks to Get Home Improvement Loans – Building Finance

10 Lending Companies / Banks to Get Home Improvement Loans – Building Finance

If you have plans to renovate your house or make changes to the interior design, one of the things that may hinder your plans is lack of financing. Unless you have surplus savings that are not attached to your household savings account, you will be required to look elsewhere to find funding.

Before you apply for a remodelling loan, you have to estimate the cost of the required renovations. Consult a construction cost estimator or home designer to take site measurements and photos of places that need to be upgraded, altered or improved. For example, if you only want to make changes to the living room, you will need to take room measurements – the length, width and height.

The home designer should prepare sketch plans, and together with the site information and photos, the estimator can prepare a cost estimate or renovations bills of quantities. The homeowner should then use the cost estimate to apply for a loan, hence before you visit a bank or financial institution, you must have the project costs with you.

Home improvement loans are one option that you can use to finance your project. The following are 10 financial institutions to apply for a home renovations loan:

Prosper

Prosper is a loan company based in the USA. It operates in most states except West Virginia, Iowa, North Dakota and Maine. The company has 10 types of loans available for clients, and one of these is for people looking to renovate or remodel their dwelling. You can secure a loan for home repairs, kitchen and bathroom remodelling as well as furniture upgrading. External works such as decks and gardens are also covered by the loan.

To apply for a loan, just visit the website, and fill an online form. On the form, you are required to enter the value of the renovation cost, select home improvement from the drop-down list and put your credit score. There are 4 credit scores – poor, fair, good and excellent. If your credit score is fair and above, your chances of approval will be high. Submit the form to get a quote. Prosper offers loans from $2000 to $35,000.

With Prosper, the annual rate charged for borrowing (APR) depends on the loan period, the applicant’s credit rating and amount of loan. To keep the APR low, you have to maintain a good Prosper credit rating.

Apply for Loan

 

BECU

BECU is a financial organization that offers banking, loans, mortgages and investment products. If you are looking for home refurbishment loans, the company offers two types of loans in this category. The first type of loan that you can opt for is the Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC). This loan is obtained by attaching your home or house as collateral. Home Equity is the value of your home minus liabilities. The BECU HELOC is an open-end loan, meaning that you are allowed to withdraw any amount of money up to a certain limit according to your needs. This type of loan is useful for an ongoing project that requires maintenance, for example repairing or renovating a home. Facility management requires both a short term and long term maintenance plan during the life cycle of a building to ensure its longevity, and to maintain its market value. With a HELOC, you will have access to funds when you need to do some improvements on your property. BECU offers a HELOC up to $500,000, the default interest rate is variable, but you can choose a fixed rate that will prevail from now and the future. An applicant who has been approved for this loan will only start paying back the owed amount after the draw period has lapsed.

The second type of loan that you can choose at BECU is the Home Improvement Loan. Unlike the HELOC, this loan is provided as a lump sum at a fixed rate. The advantage of this loan is that you are not required to provide collateral or security. You simply apply for the loan, and depending on your credit score, salary scale and other factors, you will be eligible to borrow up to $25,000. This loan is suitable for repairs and maintenance work.

Apply for Loan

 

LendingClub

LendingClub is a US-based financial company dealing in loans and investment accounts. You can obtain a personal loan for financing your home improvement and repairs. The type of loan that you can get at this institution is a collateral-free loan that doesn’t require any form of asset security. All you need to do is submit an application online, stating the amount of required loan. The next step is choosing the best repayment options and rates, and if you are eligible, LendingClub will approve your application and send money to your bank account. People have used this loan for remodelling projects, fixing home items, repairing building elements and adding new structures such as outdoor decks.

So how much can you borrow from LC? The maximum that you can borrow is a lump sum of $40,000. This is usually enough for home renovations that do not include complete demolitions or complete rebuilding. LC does not charge a fee for settling your debt too early. You might be surprised, but a lot of American lending companies will penalize you for paying back a loan too early, since they are looking to make a profit from you. The minimum repayment term for LC loans is 36 months, and like most loans the APR depends on your credit rating, history, amount borrowed and the repayment period.

Apply for Loan

 

KeyBank

KeyBank is a bank-based financial service providing Americans with banking accounts, loans, credit cards, investment and insurance products. The home remodelling loan offered by KeyBank is unsecured, meaning that you can borrow money without the hassles of home equity requirements. Going through the process of attaching and valuing your house for loan application purposes is a lengthy procedure that requires a lot of paperwork. You can avoid this by opting for a KeyBank non-collateral loan. The company promises to apply low interest rates on your loan, which can be repaid in flexible terms with durations of up to 60 months.

To be eligible for a KeyBank loan, you must be at least 18 years of age, be an American resident and live in a supported state. At the moment, the bank only processes applicants from 15 states. The company’s loan ceiling seems to be unlimited, but you can start borrowing from $5,000. They serve individuals, businesses and corporate employees. KeyBank has over 1,200 branches in the USA and owns more than $134 billion in assets.

Apply for Loan

 

LightStream

LightStream is a division of SunTrust bank. They offer home improvement loans with APR starting from 3.99%. The lending company has a wide range of loan and refinancing products, from boat to wedding loans, you will find what you are looking for. The home renovation loans will cover a variety of projects such as additions, kitchen remodelling, bath redesign, house extensions, landscaping, roof replacements, solar energy and swimming pool installations.

LightStream loans are unsecured, you don’t need home equity and there are no fees. Within a few steps of submitting your application, your loan will be processed as quickly as possible if you meet the requirements, and you might see money in your bank account on day 1 or 2. The interest rate is fixed, there is no limit on the types of renovations you can do, and you can claim as much as $100,000, one of the highest non-collateral loan you can ever get in the USA. The qualifying amount is $5,000.

To get started with your project, fill in the application form on the company’s website. Select “Home Improvement/Pool/Solar Loan”, enter your desired loan amount, the preferred duration and method of payment. You can either pay with an invoice or autopay facility. The interest rates are displayed on the site including the loan amount, and payment periods. LightStream operates during the week, from Monday to Friday between 9am and 8pm, and on Saturdays from 12:00 to 7pm. Applications are processed on a daily basis so you will get never get a delay.

Apply for Loan

 

WoodForest National Bank

WoodForest National Bank is a US bank that offers personal and small business banking products such as checking accounts, savings accounts, credit cards, investment and insurance services. The bank is engaged in a lot of community development projects such as affordable housing so you are bound to find products aligned to residential renovations. There are two types of home improvement financing that you can find at WoodForest. You can opt for a Home Equity Line of Credit or you can get an unsecured loan.

The unsecured loan allows you to finance home refurbishments such as kitchen cupboard replacements, re-painting walls, tile replacement, door and window repairs. The APR for unsecured loans starts from 5.99%. Depending on the cost range of your project, you can apply for loans up to $10,000 or more. Loans below $10,000 are processed quickly. To hasten the processing of your loan, you have to submit your documents online. The bank will then activate and send an automatic deposit into your account.

At the moment, WoodForest has branches and services in 17 states. Applicants should note that although the home improvement loan provided by this bank is an unsecured loan, you must own a residential property or dwelling in order to qualify for this loan. However, your property is not attached to the loan since it’s not a Home Equity Line of Credit.

Apply for Loan

 

Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo is one of the most popular and oldest banks in the USA. The bank provides clients with personal, small business and commercial products such as loans, credit cards, mortgage, insurance, investment and retirement plans. By joining and using the bank, you will also be rewarded with points that can be converted into cash. At Wells Fargo, home improvement loans are found at their lending center under home mortgage loans.

Before you complete an application for project financing, you have to think about the amount you want to borrow, the estimated duration of your project, a suitable repayment plan for your budget or financial status and the time you would need to finish payments. Depending on your project, you might need a revolving line of credit that allows you to withdraw money whenever you need or a lump sum payment that is deposited in your account at once. Decide whether you are going to hire a contractor or if it’s going to be a DIY project.

Wells Fargo bank provides you with two main options – a secured or unsecured loan. Secured loans are attached to your mortgage and home equity. The cash-out refinance option allows you to settle your mortgage balance, and at the same time you will get funds for financing your personal projects. However, the lump sum payment is variable and  it depends on many things. If you want ongoing access to funds, the Home Equity Line of Credit will be suitable for this purpose. The HELOC allows you to borrow at least $25,000, you can lock in a fixed rate or switch between a fixed and variable rate. The interest on this loan may be tax deductible.

If you are not interested in secured loans, there are 3 types of unsecured loans that Wells Fargo has to offer. You can choose between credit card financing, personal loans and PLOC (Personal Line of Credit). A credit card allows to draw at least $500 on an ongoing basis, and you will also be eligible to participate in a rewards program that allows you to earn credits towards your home improvement project. The Personal Loan option qualifies you for a minimum lump sum payment of $3,000. Your application is processed quickly and funds will be available within 24 hours. The APR is fixed, as well as the payment period and loan instalments. The third option for an unsecured loan is applying for a PLOC. It offers loans between $3,000 and $100,000 on an ongoing draw basis. Funds are available within 24 hours if you are approved, and there are no fees for transfers and cash advance.

Apply for Loan

 

SunTrust

SunTrust bank is a big American banking company that provides a range of financial products including most types of loans for home improvement, home purchasing, auto financing, student education, recreation and debt consolidation.

Their home remodelling and refurbishment loan can be obtained at a minimum fixed rate of 3.99% depending on your credit history and loan requirements. The main features of this loan are that it is a non-collateral, equity-free loan which can be secured instantly and deposited into your bank account.

The LightStream home improvement facility allows you to apply for loan amounts between $5,000 and $100,000 at a fixed rate. The payment period is 24 to 84 months, there are no fees for processing the cash advance and LightStream has placed a guarantee that if you are not satisfied with their service, they will pay you $100.

Apply for Loan

 

 

Barclays Bank

With over 300 years of service, Barclays bank is one of the oldest and most popular UK banks with an international presence in over 50 countries including the USA, Europe, Africa and Asia. The financial institution provides savings and investment accounts, including insurance, mortgage and wealth creation services. Personal, business and corporate clients are registered with the bank to enjoy the company’s borrowing facility.

At Barclays bank, you can apply for a home improvement loan under a personal account. You can borrow up to GBP 59,498.40 and a minimum of GBP 1,616.40. The APR ranges from 4.9% to 22.9% depending on your loan amount, repayment period and credit profile.  A 4.9% APR applies to borrowing amounts between 7,500 GBP and 15,000 GDP with a loan period of 2 to 5 years, however your personal circumstances will determine the applicable rate.

Barclays bank can give you a quote based on the builder’s price or estimate. You will be required to pay an early settlement fee for a home renovation loan. Provided that you have submitted all the required documents, your loan will be processed quickly and deposited into your account if you meet the qualification criteria.

Other benefits of taking a Barclays Loan are that you can start making settlements as early as possible, but you will incur charges plus any interest charges related to your payment. Barclays are so confident in their loan products such that they will give a price guarantee if you find a competitor with a lower APR on a similar product. To hook you in, they will adjust their APR to match the competitor’s interest rate.

Whether you are planning to renovate your home or increase the market value of your dwelling, Barclays offers some special advice on their online blog. You can contact a Barclays representative between 8am and 9pm from Monday to Sunday.

Apply for Loan

 

NatWest

NatWest is a UK bank specializing in personal, private and business banking. They provide loans for home upgrading, car purchasing, holidays, debt consolidation and weddings. Their home improvement plan has one of the lowest rates – 3.4% APR, which is applied on loans ranging from 7,500 GBP to 19,950 GDP.

The minimum and maximum borrowed amounts are 1,000 GBP and 50,000 GBP respectively. The borrower has up to 10 years to repay if they have a loan exceeding 7,500 GBP. The purpose of the loan is to finance home repairs, alterations, additions and renewals. According to research, the kitchen and bathroom are two main areas that a new homeowner wants replaced, followed by addition of a garage or parking space if it’s not available.

To determine the amount of money that you would need to borrow, use the online calculator. The minimum and maximum repayment terms are 12 and 96 months respectively.

Apply for Loan

Discover

Discover is a lending and banking company offering a variety of financial products such as personal loans, student loans, credit cards, mortgage refinancing, debt consolidation and home equity loans.

The Discover home improvement plan is a home equity loan that will allow you to extend your residential property with additional rooms, upgrade your kitchen, bathroom etc, and install energy efficient systems. The company’s borrowing limits are $35,000 to $150,000, the interest may be tax deductible and there are no origination fees.

The home equity loan provided by this company is a one-time payment, and in order to qualify, you must have a minimum credit rating of 620. Your credit history must be fairly acceptable, and you must provide documentation to support your employment status, salary and value of your home equity.

Before applying online, you can chat with a Personal Banker between 8am and 10pm on Monday to Friday.

Apply for Loan

How to Get Funding for a Construction Project

 

Getting funding for a construction project can be tough or smooth depending on various factors such as your financial standing, creditworthiness, quality of your presentation and proposal. Every lender (or investor) wants to know what they are getting from a project or business plan. They are bound to ask you tough questions, test your proposals and ask for a lot of documents. If you want to increase your chances of getting building finance, you have to prepare the required documents, and you must know the options available for you in your region:

Prepare a Cost Estimate

The first step in securing construction finance is preparing a cost estimate for your proposed project, and you can get this estimate from a consulting quantity surveyor or certified estimator. If you already have the sketch plans or architectural drawings, the quantity surveyor will need them to prepare an estimate. You will need to pay the quantity surveyor for this estimate, since it’s a professional document with quantitative and qualitative input. Do not assume that you can get an estimate anywhere e.g. from a building contractor, because what the contractor gives you is not an estimate, but just a quote.

The quantity surveyor can prepare three types of estimates, the Superficial Floor Area Estimate, Elemental Estimate or Provisional Bills of Quantities.

Bank Rating

When you have obtained the estimate, the next step is approaching your bank to get a bank rating or letter of financial standing. If you have a good bank rating or credit score, the sponsors will view you in a positive light, but if you have negative rating, it will reduce your chances of landing a contract.

In applying for funding, you have to decide whether you will apply as an individual or as a registered company. If you are applying as a company, you might be required to submit proof of business registration and tax certificates.

Items that may be required by investors are outlined below:

  • Cost estimate
  • Proposal ,Presentation
  • Business/Financial plan with cashflow and cost projections
  • Bank rating/score
  • Letter of financial standing from your bank
  • Guarantees from building material suppliers and other creditors
  • Business registration
  • Tax certificates
  • Proof of vacant land or site on which the construction will take place
  • Building license or building plan approval

Prepare a Financial/Business Plan

Find a financial consultant to prepare a professional business plan. If you are not a business, you can still prepare a financial plan with cashflow and cost projections. Investors prefer to work with numbers and if your plan is financially viable, they will be impressed.

Prepare a Professional Presentation/Proposal

Prepare a motivational presentation that includes your mission, goals, background etc. Explain why you think your project deserves funding, how you plan to achieve your goals, the benefits of your project, the challenges, risks and how you plan to respond or mitigate the risks.

Get a Building License

If you already have a building license, investors will take you seriously. It shows your determination and resolve to go ahead with the project. As you negotiate with investors, you will be talking about land that you already have to build the proposed project. Discussing plans that have not been implemented does not instill confidence in investors.

Obtain Credit Guarantees from Material Suppliers

A credit guarantee from building material suppliers gives you an advantage as it shows proper planning on your behalf. When other creditors are endorsing and supporting your project, it’s a sign of confidence in your project, so other lenders are more likely to pitch in.

Where To Get Funding

You can get funding from multiple sources. The following are places to solicit or apply for construction funding:

  • Commercial banks,
  • Development banks
  • SME banks
  • Lending institutions
  • Property developers
  • Pension fund organizations
  • Building societies
  • Government banks
  • Investor joint ventures

The Difference between an Estimate and Budget – Construction Cost

 

A construction estimate is prepared in the early stages of a project before work on site begins. The process leading to a cost estimate begins with client consultation. As soon as the client lays down their building plans with an architect, he or she must take the blueprints to a quantity surveyor or professional estimator. The quantity surveyor will take off measurements from the drawings and calculate the cost of construction. The construction cost is the estimate that a client should budget for, if they intend to go ahead with the project.

Most of the times, the client has no idea of the costs until they are furnished with an estimate. In this case, according to the client’s financial standing, the cost might be too high or within their budget. When dealing with a client, the quantity surveyor’s role is producing accurate cost estimates based on the designs, and not on the client’s feelings. However, if the initial design is too expensive for the client, the quantity surveyor can advise the client to make alterations or produce an alternative design altogether. The client will be required to go back to the architect to suggest changes. Working with the client, the architect will revise the plans or produce alternative designs but this time a lot of consideration will be placed on the cost elements rather than aesthetics.

In designing a new plan, the architect must refer to the quantity surveyor’s cost estimate with the goal of identifying building elements which are taking too much cost. For example, expensive marble floor tiles may need to be replaced with low-priced ceramic tiles. One or two rooms may need to be removed and the plan configuration might need to be re-arranged or re-sized to reduce the costs. If the slate roof tiles are taking a large proportion of the cost, they might need to be replaced with a much cheaper variety or version, for example, asphalt fibreglass , clay, concrete tiles or corrugated iron/asbestos sheets.

The procedure whereby the architect designs with cost in mind is called “designing to a cost” or “designing to a budget”.  This is usually done when the client has a specific sum of money in their bank account set aside for the project. Designing to a cost will reduce the number of revisions which need to be made. To make it easier for the client, the architect may suggest building models which have been built in the past or which exist in the market. The cost of such models is known and if ever there is a fluctuation of price (building index) due to market conditions, an adjustment for price increase can be added to the known cost.

An estimate represents the actual cost of the proposed project, and a budget represents the client’s financial standing, capability or spending power. A new residential building might be estimated to be $200,000, and the client may only have $100,000 in their bank account. In this case, $200,000 or more is the required budget. A budget cannot be an estimate, but an estimate can be used for budgeting purposes and securing building finance from a lender.

The Use of Bills of Quantities in Tender Pricing and Purchasing Materials

The Use of Bills of Quantities in Tender Pricing and Purchasing Materials

Detailed Bills of Quantities have enough detail for complete pricing

A BOQ (Bills of Quantities) is a contract document prepared for tendering, project cost control and budgeting, but have you ever wondered why a BOQ is so lengthy, detailed and intimidating? If you curtail the lengthy item descriptions to short titles and strip out the clauses, preambles to trades and specifications, you will be left with a simple takeoff list, but a measuring list is not useful to a contractor who is bidding for a construction tender.

Takeoff Lists should not be used for quoting or as bid documents because they don’t have sufficient information for pricing an item. At least, when you give out a takeoff list, you should also attach some specification details that are referenced in your item list. When you are pricing an item, you need a full description of the size, properties, product code, method of fixing, construction technology and material specification. Otherwise, items which lack specification detail should be treated as provisional. This provides flexibility and room for the contractor to insert a price obtained from past projects or to select an item price from a preferred supplier. However, when too many items in a Bill of Quantities are provisional, the BOQ sum will deviate from the projected value by a high margin, which will result in numerous claims and variation orders during the post-contract period.

In order to avoid an unreasonable number of change orders and claims, the consulting Quantity Surveyor must use detailed Bills of Quantities, not a takeoff list. Takeoff lists are not recommended. They are not recommended, even for material purchasing unless the client has a preferred supplier and contractor they have worked with in the past.

So whenever you see a BOQ with over 100 pages, do not be intimidated. The clauses, preambles and specifications along with item descriptions are there to guide the contractor in pricing and building up rates. The rates should reflect what is contained in the item description and specifications. Without detail, it’s not possible to build an accurate rate. You may overprice or under-price the item, and such a scenario will put your building firm in financial trouble. A lot of construction projects are abandoned due to cashflow problems when the contractor is not making profit in the contracted job.

Takeoff List – has little or no detail for complete pricing.

10 Construction Estimating Software Used in Australia and other English Speaking Countries

10 Construction Estimating Software Used in Australia and other English Speaking Countries

One of the decisions you have to make prior to purchasing construction estimating software is whether to choose software designed for the international market or local industry. There are many good estimating programs for the US, Canada, UK and other English-speaking markets that you can adapt for your needs, but there are benefits in choosing a program designed for the Australian construction industry.

One of the benefits of using Australian estimating programs is that you can integrate with local building rates (Labor, Materials) produced by local organizations such as quantity surveyors, property developers, banks, bureau of statistics and municipalities. Your projects, estimates and Bills of Quantities will be kept current with construction data from Cordell, AIG, ACIF and ACA. In other words, when you are managing a construction project, your rates, BOQ items and specifications should be based on a local builder’s database. Estimates are not like a monetary currency that can be exchanged with foreign currencies. Adapting foreign construction rates to a local project will give an inaccurate picture of project costs.

If you are looking for construction estimating software in Australia, there is a lot to choose from. Here are 10 programs that you can try:

Constructor

Constructor is a complete program for estimating, producing bills of quantities and construction management. It has an integrated accounting and payroll system. With this software, you can schedule a project, track project costs, manage your clients and import digital drawings. A quantity surveyor will be happy with this software because it has all the features that you would need such as digital takeoff to produce detailed estimates and BOQs.

Try the Demo

 

DataBuild

DataBuild has modules for cost estimating, accounting and payroll management. With an integrated accounting system, you will not need a separate system to manage your business accounts. The software is specifically designed for a building business. Job costing is one of the assignments that a contractor will need to take care of. You can handle job costing with this construction management software. The makers of the software have made a guarantee to provide solid backup and support in the form of webinars, phone, email and online guides.

Try the Demo

 

Estimating Services Software

ESS is essentially a digital takeoff software that allows you to generate measurements from digital drawings. It supports JPG, PNG, PDF, TIF and other digital formats. One interesting thing about this software is that you can generate takeoffs from satellite pictures such as Google Earth. It also works with NearMaps. Just import aerial photos and scans into the program to get results. Who can benefit from this software? From the look of things, if you are an Estimating or Takeoff Technician, you will love this software. There are lots of video tutorials on the site to guide you. To use this software, you have to purchase an annual subscription (AU$259.00 per year), but you can watch free demos on the site’s YouTube channel.

Try the Demo

 

EasyPricePro

EasyPricePro is made for building contractors and tradesmen. One of the major tasks that is critical to the success of a building firm is winning tenders and clients through competitive project pricing. There are many builders who don’t know how to price a project, and often these are builders who don’t have a quantity surveyor in their employ. You can either hire a quantity surveyor or invest in software like EasyPricePro to produce professional reports, estimates and bid proposals. The makers of this software promise to reduce your time spent in preparing estimates by as much as 80%. Now that’s a big increase in productivity and efficiency. To access the types of estimating programs offered by this company, visit their website.

View the Demo

 

BeamsBuild

BeamsBuild or just “Beams” is one of the top estimating and construction management software. The program was developed to work with digital drawings in various formats such as PDF, CAD, JPG, PNG and other files from computer-aided designs. Modern estimators have moved away from traditional paper-based measurements to digital quantification. With BeamsBuild, you can import digital plans into the software and generate a takeoff at the click of a button. The program performs several functions other than estimating. You can create quotes, schedule construction activities, track jobs, manage variations and purchase orders. To complete your project management, there is an integrated accounting system that allows you to process valuation payments, receipts, invoices, contractor claims and payroll. You can produce financial reports for budgeting and cash flow assessments.

Watch the Demo

 

CostX

CostX by Exactal is a professional construction estimating software that allows a user to automatically generate quantities from digital drawings. Just upload your 2D and 3D building plans (PDF, CAD, scanned plans) into the program, and click a button to get quantities. The next step is applying a pricing list to the itemized quantities to generate a cost estimate.

CostX is not just an estimating software, but it’s a BIM system with inbuilt capabilities for auto 3D/BIM take off. By now, you should know that BIM is the future of quantity surveying. In a BIM system, information is constantly updated on a live 3D model which can be accessed by members of the project team. As the model changes, quantities are also updated making the estimator’s job easier. With CostX, you can also compare subcontractor quotes, produce spreadsheets and reports.  This program is widely used in Australia and Asia. It has already sold more than 10,000 licenses, and there are different programs to choose from according to your needs.

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PlanSwift

PlanSwift is built for construction estimators and builders. This semi-automated software allows you to import digital blueprints so that you can mark up the plans and measure quantities on a takeoff screen. A builder has to prepare bids and RFPs from time to time in order to get work. Taking off measurements from a blueprint is a time consuming task, so if you are serious about winning jobs, you have to reduce the time spent in taking off quantities.

An Estimator within your building firm can produce cost estimates within a few hours with PlanSwift. This releases time for more important tasks such as contract administration and project management. The program supports a variety of digital files – CAD, DWG, DXF, JPEG, PDF, TIFF and so on.

Other than enabling a quick takeoff, the software can generate material lists and cost items for labour. You can export your estimates to Microsoft Excel. To make the program even more powerful, there is a function to integrate with external software, for example a pricing application.

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Cubit

Cubit by BuildSoft is an estimating software that will be of great value to quantity surveyors, estimators, contractors and subcontractors. The estimating features include 3D takeoff. It’s also possible to integrate the software to a BIM system. Other features of Cubit that you would like are price lists, job analysis, reporting and auto-revisions.

The specialized 3D takeoff system in Cubit allows you to rotate and view the architectural model in different angles, zooming to hidden areas that need to be measured. As you trace and mark up areas on the model, quantities are generated.  To prepare a cost estimate, simply extract the quantities and send them to your estimator or upload price lists to the program. You can also connect to a costing application via API.

The software comes in three plans – cubit lite, cubit and cubit pro. Cubic Lite is $995 and Cubit, the most popular version is $2495.

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BuildXact

BuildXact is a cloud-based estimating application that can be accessed on your computer, smartphone or tablet. It’s made for builders and trade contractors such as joinery specialists, roofers and plumbers. This Australian software comes with Cordell’s Builders Database, Australia’s top cost database for construction, renovations and property. What you will get from this software is the ability to do quick digital takeoffs based on a 3D model. Just by analyzing the shape, elevations and plan view of the building, a quick estimate is produced.

After producing an estimate for a client’s project, you can prepare a quote via the software. Like other construction management software, you can prepare and manage purchase orders, generate invoices and cost a job. The benefit of this application is that you can price a job using the provided cost database, so you don’t need to look for an external costing solution.

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EclipseCS

EclipseCS is a complete estimating and cost control solution for both pre-contract and post-tender project management. It’s what you need when you are a quantity surveying consultant or construction project manager. The software allows you to prepare preliminary cost estimates, Bills of Quantities, tender proposals, post-tender valuations of work in progress, cost reports and the final account.

Like modern quantity surveying software, Eclipse allows you to import digital drawings in CAD and PDF format so that you can take off quantities automatically through tracing and marking up. The best part is that the software works with 3D BIM models. Through geometric processing of the model, an Estimator can extract quantities, which you can then price to get a total value of the project.

Eclipse runs on desktop, mobile devices and cloud-based platforms. This means even if you don’t have a computer or laptop with you, you can access your projects on smartphone and tablet. You don’t need to be restricted to the office in order to process tasks, but you can do it anywhere. At the site, record field progress on your mobile device, and in case you want to make reference to your office work, you can always access the data on your mobile device.

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Why QSPlus is Better than WinQS – Construction Estimating Software

Advantages of QSPlus vs WinQS – Construction Estimating Software

Choosing the best construction estimating / quantity surveying software for your needs can be a difficult process if you have never used estimating software in your projects, but it becomes easy when you have tried at least two advanced programs. It’s easy to become comfortable with the first software you have mastered, but if you are reluctant to move out of your comfort zone, you may miss some useful features that other software has to offer.

 

If you have used the WinQS estimating program, then you are not going to be overwhelmed when you log into the QSPlus estimating program for the first time. Both programs use DimX, a digital dimension sheet for capturing takeoffs and measurements. The user-interface for these two programs is quite different but it will take you less time to figure out the features, the concept is basically the same. However, for someone who is just starting, QSPlus offers an intuitive interface. There are many more areas where QSPlus beats WinQS. Let’s take a look at some of these areas:

Customer Support

QSPlus has excellent customer support from the download process to the purchase and user stage. The download process is straightforward, you visit NDTec Store, register an account, then download QSPlus. All modules including the price are displayed, so you can log into your account anytime and purchase without a hassle. The QSPlus file is 298MB, but it contains everything that you need for smooth installation and work e.g. Microsoft Access database and pre-installed libraries. Once you install QSPlus on your computer, the program also installs a Quick Support app which you can click to access live support with TeamViewer. The support staff will help you with technical issues via TeamViewer.

The process of downloading WinQS is frustrating from the beginning. You have to submit an online form to access the download, but apparently there is no admin on the receiving end to give you a password, so you will never get a password until you email them directly. They will send you a PDF containing the password and installation instructions. The WinQS file is 144MB, unlike the QSPlus file which comes a single EXE file, the WinQS Zip file has two separate folders – one for Microsoft SQL server and the other for WinQS program. Also, there are no pre-installed libraries. The separation of folders may present problems for those who have no time for reading the installation manual. Installing the program before the SQL server will cause the program to malfunction.

User Interface and Menu

QSPlus has a user-friendly interface. The menu is well organized, simple and intuitive. When you log into the program, you will immediately know where to go since the main menu has clearly defined tabs for all modules and core functions of the program. There are tabs for the Cost Plan, Bill Production, Valuations, Final Account, Core Data and Tools. To go into a specific module, just click the tab. As you work, you will be aware of the mode and module that you are currently in, unlike WinQS which has a complicated interface.

QSPlus interface

The WinQS menu is not well defined and it will take a lot of effort to figure out the functions of each tab, and its relationship to the window that you are currently viewing. As you go from Bill measurement to valuations or estimating to Bill production, things get complicated. The layout is simply not logical. It gets harder to make sense of the features, the connection between tabs and what you are currently working on.

WinQS interface

Just by comparing the menus between these two programs, you can immediately tell the one which makes sense to a Quantity Surveyor.

Modules and Features

While it’s hard to know what kind of modules are available on WinQS, you can easily see the modules that are available on QSPlus. WinQS is missing some features such as the Final Account and the Cost Plan which are available on QSPlus. Once again, due to the fact that the WinQS interface is not well defined and laid out, some features might be hard to discover or they might not be there at all. An interface which is hard to learn is a disadvantage for an estimator who is constrained by elements of time and pressure to deliver. On the other hand, a simple user-friendly interface will improve productivity rates. It will also reduce the time and costs associated with training an Estimator in software use.

WinQS has a lot of scattered features that could have been combined under a single module or main feature.

QSPlus is a well structured program with a well structured menu, interface and modules. The main menu has feature-rich sub-menus arranged in an orderly fashion, allowing you to manage each stage of the project perfectly and conveniently.

QSPlus Makes Sense to a Construction Professional

A construction professional (i.e. quantity surveyor, architect or construction manager) who has never used QSPlus before will quickly make sense of the software, due to the fact that the QSPlus tabs represent each stage of the contract i.e. cost planning, bill production, valuations and final account. QSPlus looks like a program that was designed with the input of a construction professional, and this kind of input is critical for any quantity surveying or construction management software.

Onscreen Bill Measurement Logic

When you open a WinQS Bill, you will notice three tabs on the top left (Browse, Detail and Dimensions). In order to measure a Bill item, you have to highlight the item and click the Dimensions tab on the screen menu. On QSPlus, you don’t have this multi-step route, you simply double-click an item to access the dimension sheet.

Another illogical feature found on WinQS is the location of the SAVE/CANCEL button on the dimension sheet. The button is placed above the DIM sheet under the main menu. If it’s your first time using the software, you will struggle to find the button. It should have been placed at the bottom of the DIM sheet, right after the dimensions as in QSPlus.

However, WinQS has some good features such as duplicating an item, joining measurable items, searching text, fast forwarding to the next heading and editing current item.

Download – QSPlus for Windows

Size:  298MB

Developers:  ND Tech Software Solutions, South Africa

Top 8 Construction Management Software for Building Contractors, Remodelers, Interior Designers and Trade Specialists

 

It doesn’t matter whether you are in the construction, renovation, home decoration or subcontracting business, your client’s project will have three main stages which start with consultation and planning, followed by the tendering/bidding process and the contract management stage. Estimates and budgets are produced in the planning stage, proposals in the form of priced bills of quantities or contractors rates are submitted in the bidding stage and work on site begins in the contract stage.

Hence, if you are looking for the best construction management software to manage client projects, you have to choose a program that supports these three critical stages. A program that provides an intuitive understanding of the modules is easy to use. There should be a systematic flow and seamless integration between the planning stage, bidding stage, contract stage and project finalization. It all depends on the collaboration between the software developer and the construction industry specialists. A user-friendly estimating program will not only produce quick results, but it will allow anybody involved in the project to follow progress and accelerate training for estimating technicians and project managers. For the sake of meeting productivity and profit goals, the CEO should invest in software with powerful functions and simple interface that improves efficiency.

Types of Applications for Contractors:

There are two types of construction management software that you can use for estimating, budgeting and project management. There are computer-based programs that you have to download and install on your desktop computer, and there are cloud-based programs (a.k.a web-based apps) that you can access by purchasing a subscription. The advantage of a cloud-based estimating program is that you can access it anywhere, for example if you are managing projects in different parts of the city, state or region, all you need to access the project is log into the app on your Smartphone, tablet or laptop. Networking with other members of the construction team is possible, and you can receive live updates on site.

The following are some of the top project management applications for construction firms, remodelers, interior designers and trade specialists:

BuilderTrend

BuilderTrend is touted as a cloud-based construction management software for building and renovation companies, including specialty contractors. Since it’s a web-based application, the software can be accessed on common platforms such as desktop computer, tablet, iPhone and Android. A look at the software shows that an attempt was made to make it as simple as possible for its users. The program has 4 main modules to tackle the life cycle of a building or remodelling project. If you are managing a new project, you will begin with the Pre-Sale module. This module is used for lead management, estimating the project cost, budgeting and preparing bid documents also known as tender documents. As a contractor, you will be able to price bid documents using the in-house pricing information that is readily available on the interface.

The next phase of the project after the bidding period is handled by the Project Management module. That is if the contractor has won the tender or secured a contract. In this module, the contractor can prepare a programme of work by using the Scheduling feature. As work commences on the site, the site clerk will record daily activities via Daily Logs. There are features to record site measurements and notes, including marking up changes to initial drawings. When variation orders are issued by the Architect or Resident Engineer, the Estimator will use the Change Orders feature to capture the instructions.

The Financial module in BuilderTrend helps the Estimator to track and prepare payments, as well as manage costs via budgeting. This feature deals with financial paperwork that needs to be prepared as soon as the Estimator returns to the office from the site. The last module is the Customer Management module which allows a client to log into the cloud app to check progress, provide feedback and make changes to specifications.

All in all, you have to master 14 sub-modules which are presented in a simplified thumbnail box grid when you log in. BuilderTrend claims to have at least 450,000 users around the world and at least 800,000 projects that have been completed by contractors. You can test-drive the software by logging into a live demo:

Test Drive the Free Online Demo >> Click Here

 

BuildTools

BuildTools is purely a construction management software which is accessed on a web-server managed by the company. The platform is designed for builders and remodelers who want to manage their projects, improve efficiency and communication on all matters related to the construction process. Just like a typical construction app that is built with simplicity in mind, the software contains modules that can be easily recognized by a contractor or anybody who is involved in the project.

There are 10 modules in BuildTools and these will help the contractor to communicate effectively and quickly with the construction team, schedule a project, produce budgets, make selections, create a task list, manage documents, change orders and create financial reports. There is a service module which allows clients to review the work done. Clients are able to submit feedback based on inspections made to the finished work. Items in the initial construction program are compared with the final account to verify any missing work items or anything that was not done according to specifications. Like other software, you can connect to accounting systems such as QuickBooks.

For those who are interested in this software, it is important to note that you can use BuildTools remotely from any location as long as you are connected to the internet. It works with a desktop browser as well as iPhone, Android and iPad.

However, if you are looking for a construction estimating solution, this software is not made for that. There is no estimating module. It only allows members of the professional team (the Architect, Quantity Surveyor and Engineers) to collaborate on a centralized platform. Building information is shared with the professional team as well the contractor, client and everybody who is involved. To see how the software works, you can schedule a demo on the website.

Try the Online Demo >> Click Here

 

ClickHome

ClickHome is a construction management application for home builders. Developed by an Australian company, the software is a workflow management system with 6 modules that a Project Manager would find useful on and off the site. Like other software, you will get a Leads Management module that deals with capturing potential clients and processing them into the funnel. It’s an important part of the marketing department which ensures that leads are retained and managed from a central database.

The next step after capturing leads is the client brief with the contractor and architect. This is where the contractor makes use of the Pre-Construction module. During this stage, feasibility studies and model simulations are done to identify potential errors, pitfalls and bottlenecks which might affect the project. The software will enable a smooth management and flow of the processes involved in the pre-tender stage, for example planning and preparation for building, and ways to improve efficiency, save time and money.

The pre-construction stage culminates with the tendering process, and at this point, the contractor has to activate the Tenders module which will assist the Construction Estimator in preparing rates and pricing BOQ items. The software creates a bridge between the tender quote and post contract pricing, allowing the estimator to track changes. Comparisons can be done and cost reports can be produced. Quotes are based on a price list which can be updated at the click of a button.

During the construction stage, the Inspections module will come in handy allowing the site manager to collect field data via the ClickHome app installed on a smartphone or tablet. As you enter the information from the site, the digital records on the software portal will be updated and somebody at the office can access the data.

So by now you should be wondering if this software is capable of estimating a project. The software does not have an inbuilt estimating capability, but it can integrate with estimating and costing solutions such as Sage, Constructor, BEAMS build and Databuild. You can even connect your own estimating system to ClickHome. Other features of ClickHome are its Client portal called MyHome and the Supplier portal which allows a contractor to manage suppliers from one platform. To see how this builder’s software works, you can schedule a demo with the site admin or watch a video:

Schedule a Demo >> Click Here

 

Constructor

Constructor is a complete construction management and estimating solution that any building contractor would be proud of. What makes this software attractive is the fact that it’s not just a project management software, but it has full building estimating functions that allows a contractor to produce a Bill of Quantities. It also includes important accounting and payroll features, so the contractor will not be required to install a separate accounting system for the company.

With Constructor, you can manage your project, construction team, employees, finances, payments and payslips. Let’s see how this software can be applied in a project from idea inception to the final account. As with any business, a project begins by securing a lead also known as a client. This software, developed in Australia for local builders has a CRM module which helps the contractor to manage both potential and existing clients. Client information is stored on the platform for current and future use. You will be able to communicate with the client, make appointments and create a plan of action.

For leads that have been turned into clients, the next step is blueprint analysis. The program can import and process digital drawings, producing automated quantities in an instant. However, there is an option to make manual measurements. The estimating module can produce pre-construction estimates and Bills of Quantities. When construction begins, the Estimator can measure the actual work on site, using the estimating feature to record changes to the initial BOQ. You can automatically generate Bills, purchase orders and specifications from estimates.

During the Tendering stage, contractors will submit a bid that includes a programme of work also known as a construction schedule. Constructor comes with a project scheduling feature that automatically generates a list of activities from BOQs and estimates.

In the course of construction, the Quantity Surveyor has to control costs on site in relation to the budget. This is done through the Project Cost Management module which allows the QS to update the Bill with current valuations done on site. Cost reports showing variances will tell the Project Manager items which need to be controlled and investigated to meet the initial budget.

The project accounting feature is used for processing valuations, claims, purchase orders, retentions and progress payments. It also deals with debtors and creditors, and all items that an accountant is concerned with – tax, trial balances, general ledger, project statements, invoices and bank reconciliation. The software is capable of generating reports, printing cheques, bookkeeping and clerical recording.

When you want to pay your construction team and office employees, you don’t need to set up a third party payroll system. Constructor can handle payroll, assign wage rates, manage employee allowances and benefits and schedule payments.

Compared to other Builder’s software, Constructor is a powerful program for Quantity Surveyors, Estimators and Project Managers. To see how the software works, you have to try the online demo.

Book the Online Demo >> Click Here

 

eBuilder

eBuilder is a cloud-based collaboration platform for construction management. The software was designed for organizations which run capital projects. These are government departments, healthcare providers, educational institutions, commercial property developers and K12 institutions. These types of organizations have multiple projects running at a time and they are usually large-scale projects involving large sums of money.

eBuilder attempts to function as a BIM solution whereby information from parties involved in the project is managed on a central platform, providing a means to identify issues and solutions before the project is at an advanced stage. The client, contractor and members of the professional team will continue using the platform in the construction stage to control costs and expenditure. The collaboration software deals with 5 elements of a project, namely planning, design, procurement and post-tender processes of construction and operations.

Planning involves cost projections, budget allocations and cash flow requirements. Financial risks are identified and references to previous projects are made to help with estimating and budgeting.

Collaborative design is achieved by sharing digital drawings and BIM models on the platform, so that they can be reviewed in real time. As input is provided by parties to the project, new design versions will be produced, allowing everybody to see what has changed through blueprint mark-ups. Compliance with design standards and feasibility of the building design can be tested and critiqued until a final solution is found. As with any BIM platform, designing does not rest with the Architect, but it is driven by the client. The contractor and other specialists are actively involved.

eBuilders procurement feature will be used by the organization to run tender evaluation and selection. The whole process is cloud-based and digital, so the department of project management will save money which would have been wasted on paperwork, postal delivery and sorting the documents. With this feature, you can send digital bid documents to contractors, analyze submissions, award tenders and manage the contractor.

To manage the actual work on site, eBuilder has a construction phase management system that allows an organization to track and monitor multiple projects at a time. The project managers can control cost, schedule work items, enter information from the site and submit change orders. You can also manage payments and project budgets.

Request a Demo >>  Click Here

Read White Paper >> Click Here

 

SimpleBuild

SimpleBuild is a web-based construction management software for building contractors. The application has project management tools that are laid out in a simple and user-friendly interface. There are 12 modules that a contractor will need to access upon logging into the platform. The Project Management module allows the contractor to handle pre-contract sales, contract administration and post-contract warranty.

The project begins with pre-sale consultation with a potential client. In this procedure, the construction firm has to make presentations and demonstrate its ability to finish a building project on time by making references to past projects which were successfully executed. When you win a client, the next step is planning the budget and programming the work. The contractor will prepare a programme of work, then send out bid packages.

During the construction phase, the same module will be applied on day-to-day management of a project. The project manager can schedule tasks, monitor progress on site and manage suppliers, subcontractors and clients on a centralized platform. The scheduling feature will send notifications about new developments on site and changes to the project team.

The final account is prepared at the closing of the project. Most contracts allow for a defects liability period of up to 24 months. SimpleBuild will keep a client account beyond the project closing, allowing the client to report issues and file warranty claims during the defects liability period.

Updates from the site are managed with a punch list that can be accessed on your mobile phone or tablet. The site manager can send tasks from the field to various parties involved in the project. Trade specialists and vendors will be notified of current developments, and each of them will receive updates that are pertinent to their trade.

The Product Selections feature allows the client to pick specifications based on available budget. A choice of suppliers is provided and when a selection is approved by the client, the system will notify the providers. The system also takes care of the contractor’s profit through addition of mark-up, attendance and other items.

Other modules of SimpleBuild are document management, daily reports, and client login. Like other construction software in this class, you will not find an inbuilt estimating / measurement module. The application is built for project management purposes.

Try the Online Demo >> Click Here

 

UDA Construction Suite

UDA Construction Suite is an advanced construction management and estimating software for residential, commercial and green building projects. This software will make your Construction Estimator proud because it is capable of in-depth measurements and detailed cost estimates. It will handle your project right from the moment you capture leads to project finalization. There are 10 features of UDASuite which you would like to appreciate.

Since your project begins with capturing leads, the software has a CRM module for managing leads, which is also useful for managing contacts involved in the project. The types of contacts you will have include the construction team, suppliers, clients, trade specialists and creditors. You can easily add service providers under a specific group or trade, making it easy for you to locate and track them. The contractor can record the number of presentations and negotiations that have been done for each lead, schedule activities for trade specialists and verify insurance and licensing for all contacts who are working on your project.

UDA’s OnCost Estimating allows you to create estimates and BOQs for new construction and remodelling projects using customizable pre-loaded templates. You will get full Bills of Quantities which you can modify by removing items or adding items from a database which functions as an inbuilt library. The estimating interface has all the features that you will need such as setting and editing dimensions on the fly. The navigation menu allows you to select items from database, set sales tax, classification mark-ups, add and edit change orders. As you enter quantities on the screen, you can view the cost breakdown and summary on the sidebar.

For fans of digital takeoff, OnCost Estimating allows you to integrate with CAD programs such as Revit, Chief Architect and CADSoft. You can also import files from estimating programs such as eTakeoff and CADEstimator. However, in order to enjoy these features, you have to get the Premier version of OnCost.

Like most project management applications, UDA Suite has a scheduling feature that supports critical path programming for Project Managers. The interface allows you to view project updates and set advanced critical paths that make use of predecessors (subtasks) for each item. You can set starting dates and workdays, set minimums, link items and generate Gantt charts in a format you like.

In order to keep workers on alert, the Project Manager will set automatic reminders for each subtask in the program of work. Reminders are sent to material suppliers, workers, subcontractors and the professional team.

Since most features of UDA are integrated, it is possible to create cost estimates and budgets based on schedules. Schedules can be exported in 5 formats which include PDF, Microsoft Files and Image.

Other features of UDA Suite that you will find useful are the construction calendar, document management, the projects center, QuickBooks integration and a reporting module that produces all kinds of reports – schedules, project totals, company overview, cost estimates, cashflows and aggregate reports.

Compare 4 versions of UDA Construction Suite >> Click Here

Check the Online Demo >> Click Here

 

 Workflow Max

Workflow Max is a download-free project management software for various industries. Among people who have used the software are construction industry professionals such as architects, building contractors, engineers and surveyors. Non-construction agencies who have found this software to be applicable to their needs include business consultants, marketing firms, web design and IT companies.

The software has 5 modules with 14 features. Additional features can be integrated via add-ons, and there are more than 30 add-ons to choose from. So does Workflow Max measure up with other construction management software?

Let’s see how this software can be applied by home builders and remodelers. To start with, there is a CRM module which allows a contractor to manage leads, clients and quotes. Inside the simple lead manager, you can see the total number of leads in different states, which are classified as freezing cold, cold, hot and won. The manager can see the number of leads obtained by members of the marketing team. The information is presented in nice graphs and charts.

After winning a lead, the project progresses from pre-sales to contract stage. This is when the contractor deploys workers and equipment on the site. The job costing feature in Workflow Max allows you to manage work expenses and job orders. You can make purchase orders via Xero and ensure timely delivery of materials and scheduled equipment.

To manage your employees and human resources needs, you have to use the Job Manager. The Job Manager interface shows you the number of jobs running at a time, as well as the client name. You can check if a job is in progress, on hold or under planning. The starting dates and due dates are denoted, and there is a progress bar which shows the percentage of completed work so far.

To distribute work evenly and prevent time wasted due to employee lagging, the software shows the name of the worker who has been assigned with a particular task. The time to complete a task is measured, so you can compare the cumulative time with the estimated project time to see if the project will go beyond the due date or not. This job scheduling feature might look simple but it is effective in managing time and employee performance. The manager can also set up email notifications to staff when deadlines are approaching and whenever changes are made.

Workflow Max is also capable of online quoting using custom-defined templates for the client. Within a few minutes, you can create a presentable and professional quote that can be saved as a template for future use. While preparing a quote, you can adjust the profit margin to suit your needs, and make instant revisions to meet the client’s budget. The simplicity of the layout allows you to add new tasks, costs and mark-up at the click of a button. There is flexibility in pricing items, you can enter hourly rates, composite rates or sums. Workflow Max is available for 14 days free-trial.

Sign up for a Free Trial >> Click Here

Building Permit – Application for Building Plan Approval

Before you begin building a house on purchased land, you have to get a Building Permit also known as Building Plan Approval. There are building permits for different types of structures and residential developments. Also building requirements may differ from one place to another within a country, region or district. In the United States, you will be required to comply with regulations across the administrative levels, from state to county/city codes. The scope and type of your construction project will be taken into account as well as other information like the site location, occupancy classification, construction area, estimated cost and environmental impact.

How to Get a Building Permit / USA Building Permit Application

To get a building permit, you must submit an application form to the local building authority along with applicable fees and building drawings. The Department of Building at your city municipality office is usually responsible for approving building plans. The following is a list of items that you should submit or fulfil:

  • Building Drawings. (Make at least three copies but this depends on the Approval Department in your city) Depending on the requirements in your city, your drawings should be prepared by a registered architect or certified building designer.
  • Application Form completed and signed by the Owner, Contractor and Architect/Building Designer. (Make at least three copies for reference) This form is available at the municipality office or you can download the form from the city website.
  • Application Fees (Depends on State or City).
  • Examination and Inspection Fees (Depends on State or City).
  • Estimated Cost of Construction
  • On the application form, information about the owner, building contractor and architect /designer including affidavits is required.
  • To make the process easier and smooth, you have to hire a licensed designer or building surveyor who provides certification services. This will save you the hustle of making numerous revisions since the licensed certifier knows what is needed to comply with building regulations.

After a building permit is issued, the owner should post a notice of commencement on the construction site. This notice should be seen by the building inspector on the first visit to the site. The building inspector may want to verify your drawings on site, and therefore your approved drawings should be within reach. In case you want to make changes to the drawings after they have been approved, you should not begin construction until the changes have been reviewed and approved.

It is important to know that penalties may be applied if the owner proceeds with construction without notifying the Building Department of any changes to building plans. You may be required to take down the structure, a stop order may be issued and your building license may be suspended. In some cases, building violations may attract a huge fine, imprisonment and litigation.

Site Inspections

During construction, the building official will visit the site to inspect the building elements. The number of inspections that need to be made for any type of project are indicated on the application form. As an example, inspections may be required upon the completion of each construction activity such as excavations, substructure, superstructure and roofing.

The owner has to notify the building officials to come for an inspection when a building phase is completed. When a project exceeds the required number of inspections, fees may be charged for additional inspections.

Classification of Construction Works

Depending on what you are planning to build or renovate, your application for a building permit should fall into one of the following categories:

Categorization by Type of Works

  • New Building – This is a completely new construction, proposed works and design plans that have not yet been implemented on the site. The building only exists on drawings.
  • Alterations – These are adjustments and modifications to elements of an existing building or structure. It might be a remodelling job, renovation or refurbishment. The building owner might want to upgrade the looks of the building or make changes to the building envelope, interior walls, partitions and finishes, exterior walls and finishes, floor finishes, ceilings, doors, windows, joinery and fittings. Alterations usually involve removal of existing items, shifting items to a new position, breaking down walls to make way for new windows and doors.
  • Additions – These are additional structures built on the internal or external parts of an existing building. The new construction works may be adjoined to the building or built as separate free standing structures, for example garages, patios, backyard kitchens, braai spots and maid living quarters. Major works include additional storeys and extensions to the existing building. Minor works include new partitions to create extra rooms. Just like alterations, additions are usually done as part of a refurbishment or renovation project.
  • Repairs – Repair works are done as part of a short-term or long-term maintenance plan. They are done to building parts which show signs of stress as well as parts which are broken, malfunctioning or performing poorly. Fixing is required for cracks, leaks, fractures including items which are chipped, scratched, disfigured, faded, stained and tainted. Depending on the part of the building which needs attention, repairs are done to walls, wall finishes, floor finishes, roof, ceilings, plumbing, joinery, fittings, windows and doors. The scope and nature of repair works is usually minor compared to alterations and additions.
  • Change of Occupancy – Buildings are classified into categories based on their use, occupancy or purpose. If you are planning to build a house, one of the most important documents that you will need is a Certificate of Occupancy (CO) which approves your building for a specific use. The City authorities (i.e. Department of Building) will issue a CO once your building is inspected and approved. To get this certificate, you have to wait until the construction project is complete, before keys are handed to the owner. A building surveyor or inspector will visit your newly completed house to check compliance with occupancy requirements. If there is something that is not in compliance, you will be required to change it before a CO is issued. After some time, you might need to make changes to the building. When you need to make changes to the building (renovations) or when you want to change the use of the building for a different purpose, you will need to get a Change of Occupancy certificate which allows you to make the required changes.

Events which require a Change of Occupancy certificate:

  1. When you have a non-residential building (shop, office, factory, warehouse etc.) that you want to convert into a residential property.
  2. When you have a house or any residential property that you want to convert into a non-residential building.
  3. When you need to build additional storeys to an existing single storey house.
  4. When you are renovating or refurbishing your house.
  • Temporary Structure – Temporary structures are built to provide accommodation or storage on a non-permanent basis. They are only there for the duration of an event or as an emergency requirement. Examples include pavilions at trade shows, modular housing for construction workers, low-income earners and people displaced by natural disasters. Automotive companies may build temporary garage shelters for vehicles during an auction. Wholesalers may build temporary warehouses to store inventory. Other types of temporary structures include greenhouses, workshops and camping houses.
  • Demolition – If you intend to demolish an existing building to make way for a new replacement, you have to get a demolition permit. Even if you are not planning to build a new house on the site, you will need permission from the city authorities to conduct a demolition.  The city has to assess the size of the structure and the extent of the demolitions that are required.  A permit is usually required for bigger and more complex projects. You have to distinguish between demolitions and alterations. In alterations, a large portion of the building will remain while in demolitions, the whole house is destroyed. The right method of demolition has to be prescribed by the city codes if there is a possibility of affecting the surroundings or adjacent buildings.

A demolition permit can be obtained at the same with your building permit if you intend to replace the building.

  • Deconstruction – An alternative to demolition is deconstruction. Both processes involve taking down and replacing the building. The difference is that deconstruction is a methodical way of taking down a building with the intent of salvaging building materials. The walls are carefully taken down, windows, doors, ceramic tiles, fittings, roofing material and other items are carefully taken out. Brick, concrete and asphalt debris is stored for re-use. If you intend to salvage and re-use building materials, you will be better served by getting a deconstruction permit in place of a demolition permit.
  • Other – if your works cannot be classified in any of the above categories, they should be classified as other.

Categorization by Occupancy or Building Use

When you are filling the application forms for a building permit, you have to classify your building project according to its intended use or purpose. The following types of occupancies are available:

  • Residential – Houses, apartments, condos and hotels etc.
  • Commercial – Shops, supermarkets, shopping malls, merchants and retailers etc.
  • Office – This includes most types of consultants – insurance, banks, law firms, pension funds, marketing, graphic design, travel agents, accountants, quantity surveyors, architects etc.
  • Industrial – Factories, manufacturing plants, refineries, assembly lines, auto repair, construction, gas and oil industries etc.
  • Educational – Schools, colleges, universities etc.
  • Medical – Hospitals, clinics and surgeries etc.
  • Assembly – Community halls, theatres, clubs, pubs, auditoriums, stadiums, amphitheatre and restaurants etc.
  • Private Garage
  • Storage – Warehouses, garages, containers etc.
  • Hazardous – Buildings where toxic materials are produced or stored e.g. chemical plants.
  • Technology – Laboratories, experimental facilities etc.
  • Miscellaneous

The exact building occupancy categories are outlined in the International Building Code (IBC).

Categorization by Trade

Depending on the state or city codes, you may be required to apply for additional permits in the following trades or works:

  • HVAC/Mechanical Engineering Installations and Services
  • Electrical Engineering Installations and Services
  • Sprinkler System
  • Industrialized Units
  • Plumbing
  • Fire Alarm
  • Gas Systems

Categorization by Land Zone

The land on which you want to build a house or structure may affect your application for a building permit. Land zoning is a regulatory practice used by Municipalities and Town Councils to divide land into areas designated for specific use and purposes. The land in the municipality is divided into zones for residential, commercial and industrial development. For each major zone, the municipality will create sub-zones or locations which have their own requirements. As an example, in a residential zone, you may find separate locations designated for low-cost housing, high class homes, middle class homes etc. There are restrictions on the type of dwellings that you can built, for example, the gross floor area, height and number of rooms may not exceed a given range. You have to choose the right zone for your development if you want to be successful in getting a construction permit.

Land zones are also applied to areas with special situations and environmental issues. These are listed below:

  • Flood Zone – Areas at risk of flooding. Insurance is compulsory if you live in a high risk area. This includes developments on river banks, valleys and coastal areas.
  • Fire Zone – Areas prone to bushfires and fire hazards.
  • Landslide Area – Areas near the mountain side or sloping terrain are prone to slope instability, which causes a mass of loose rocks, soil or ice to slide down at rapid speed causing destruction along the way.
  • Liquefaction Zone – Areas with loose ground and sandy soils.
  • Access Affected by Construction in Progress.
  • Ecological Zone – Areas of high ecological value whereby the ecosystems (wildlife and environment) are protected by the government.
  • Cultural Zone – Areas of high cultural and historical significance which are usually protected by the government.
  • Agricultural Zone – Areas for farming i.e. crop production and livestock rearing.
  • Alquist Priolo Earthquake Fault Zone – Areas with seismic hazards. The areas are situated along the fault lines of an earthquake map.

Building a House – Get a Construction Cost Estimate

 

 

After the Architect or Building Designer has produced drawings of your proposed house, you have to calculate the cost of construction. One of the mistakes that clients make is leaving building cost estimating in the hands of the contractor or an engineer who is working on the project. Let’s be honest, a building contractor or structural engineer are not the best estimators or cost managers. These two professionals might have done costing as part of the Construction Management and Structural Engineering curriculum respectively, but this does not make them specialists in estimating or quantity surveying. Quantity Surveying courses also include basic subjects in Engineering but this does not qualify a QS to be a Structural Engineer.

In order to get a high quality estimate that is accurate, complete and valuable, you should consult a Quantity Surveyor or certified Construction Estimator. There are a lot of essential details that contractors and engineers will miss when quantifying a plan and pricing the quantities. The type of estimate produced in this case does not follow the Standard System of Measurement used by Quantity Surveyors. Most of the times, it’s not clear if the rates are inclusive of labour, subcontractors and mark up. Items and trades are not organized or defined properly. More often, the estimate is based on construction activities, but there is no composite rate build up to take account of all constituent components in the activity. Since the engineer is not guided by standard QS guidelines, the estimate is more likely to be subjective, prepared according to the engineer’s view of costing elements. A lot of items that you would find in a BOQ would be missing including preliminaries, contingencies, escalation and provisional sums. Above all, an estimate prepared by an unqualified consultant will lack descriptive detail that is required for contractor pricing and purchasing items. If roof installation has been measured as an activity, which items have been included? Does the rate or sum include roof covering, insulation, trusses and brandering? Are the estimated quantities based on supplier quotes or have they been methodically calculated? Is it an estimate for purchasing materials or is it for bidding?

You can send the same house plan for estimating to different parties – the contractor, engineer, certified construction estimator, quantity surveyor (QS), project managers etc, and you will see a big difference between the estimates. The estimate by the QS and certified Estimator is far more reliable, accurate and complete.

Why Should You Get a Cost Estimate?

Budgeting

A building cost estimate allows you to budget enough money for the project. You will know in advance the anticipated cost of building your proposed house, enabling you to make critical decisions. When you approach a bank or financier for a loan you should furnish them with your cost estimate. Make sure that contingencies as well as price escalations are included in the bank. Escalation should be factored in when a contract is expected to run several months, at least 12 months duration.

Decision Making

A cost estimate allows you to make decisions, whether to continue with your project or wait until you have the required funds. You can go on a fund-raising campaign to raise a figure that is within your contract value range.

Changes

Instead of abandoning your proposed project or fund-raising to get building capital, you can choose to make changes to the architectural house plans. With the help of an architect or building designer, look for items that are taking up too much cost. Decide if you want to substitute the items or remove them. Changes can be made to floor finishes, wall finishes, plan shape, number of rooms and other elements. The aim is to reduce the cost to the desired budget. Half a loaf is better than nothing. It’s better to build a small home than abort a huge project which failed to take off due to lack of funds.

Smooth Project

When you have enough funds for your project, the project will run smoothly during the construction phase. Having enough capital in the bank means your project has passed the financial feasibility test. Financial feasibility should be a top priority in any project. Construction financing ensures that workers are paid on time, which provides an incentive for maintaining productivity and finishing the project before the deadline. According to clauses contained in the preliminaries section of the Bills of Quantities, a contractor can be penalized for delaying the project. However, if the delays are caused by late payments and circumstances beyond the control of the contractor, the client should take blame.

Types of Cost Estimates Available in the Design Stage and Contract Period

In your pursuit of getting a Quantity Surveyor or Construction Estimator, you have to understand that an estimate is as good as the extent of the drawings. An estimate depends on the information provided by the architect. Architectural drawings take time to develop, therefore in the early stage of the project there might not be sufficient specifications to work with. In this case, the Estimator has to work with available information. The earliest cost estimate that you can have is based on the Unit Method of estimating and the Superficial Floor Area Method.

Cost Per Unit Method

In the Unit Method, a house estimate can be produced even if there are no sketch drawings. The client is required to state the number of bedrooms required, whether it should be a single family unit or multi-family dwelling. The client can also prescribe the materials for the building envelope i.e. will it be a brick, stone or timber house? For a house, rooms are the main units. The number of rooms is multiplied by the known cost per room.

Superficial Floor Area Method/ Cost Per Square Metre

In the Superficial Floor Area Method, sketch drawings of the floor plan are required including the type of floor finishes and room dimensions. With this information, a reliable cost estimate can be produced within a short time using the Cost per Square Metre.

Elemental Estimate and Approximate Quantities

At a later stage during the pre-contract period, the architect will produce detailed drawings with full specifications. These drawings have fully detailed wall elevations, substructure, superstructure, roof structure, roof coverings, sanitary fittings, joinery, floor finishes, wall finishes, drainage and external works. This is a time for the Estimator to produce detailed estimates such as the Elemental Estimate and Approximate Quantities.

Bills of Quantities

For tendering and contract management purposes, detailed Bills of Quantities which contain contract clauses are produced. Bills of Quantities are the most detailed cost documents which are needed for any construction project. This document will be used throughout the construction stage for cost management, valuations, final account payments and closing the contract.