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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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How to Enter Takeoff Measurements in a Digital Dimension Sheet

 

When you analyze dimension sheets from different quantity surveyors, you will realize that the order in which measurements are entered is quite different. The takeoff pattern varies between estimators. You will find an estimator with a clear and logical arrangement of quantities that can be easily followed and tracked. The other estimator, the one who will give you a headache has quantities that are hard to track and follow up. Most of the times, the data/takeoff entries created by this estimator has a pattern which is hard to understand or let alone figure out how the measurements were done. When we are talking about dimension sheets, we are not talking about paper sheets that you will find in a traditional Quantity Surveying firm e.g. cut and shuffle method, but we are talking about electronic dim sheets that you will use on a computer estimating program like WinQS or CostX. If you are still using paper sheets, then you are old-fashioned and behind technology. Computer-based electronic dim sheets can save your time and increase your productivity by a large margin, therefore you shouldn’t be using paper sheets in this age. Measurement has gone electronic and already there is powerful BIM takeoff software that can automatically generate quantities from digital 3D Architectural models.

With that said, if you are manually entering measurements on takeoff software, you should follow some basic principles that allow your dimension sheets to be easily understood. Anybody who reads your dimensions should be able to track the various parts of the drawings that were measured, for example when you are measuring walls, a rectangular building has at least four elevations. It might be a simple rectangle or it might be a complex design with several corners. In order to make your dimensions trackable, you have to enter them in a logical order. Start measuring your walls from point A to point B (corner-to-corner) to get dimension AB, then point B to point C to get dimension BC and so on. Do this successively until you have completed the perimeter, to the last point X. The last dimension should be XY. After completing the perimeter, your dimensions should look like this:

Wall AB – 2.100m

Wall BC – 2.400m

Wall CD – 4.000m

Wall DF – 3.200m

Wall FG – 2.000m

Wall GH – 2.500m

Wall HI – 4.000m

Wall IJ – 2.500m

Wall JK – 2.100m

On a digital dimension sheet, your dimensions should look like this:

You can clearly see how the walls have been referenced, the thickness and type of brickwalls i.e. Ext. (for External Walls) has been stated. When you copy the dimensions to another trade or location, you can easily see the walls that are being referred to on the drawings. It’s easy to check and track walls that have been measured, even if you are not the person who measured them.

Dimensions Timesing Column Total Reference Notes
(m)
2.100 1 2.100 Ext Wall AB – 230mm
2.400 1 2.400 Ext Wall BC – 230mm
4.000 1 4.000 Ext  Wall CD – 230mm
3.200 1 3.200 Ext Wall DF – 230mm
2.000 1 2.000 Ext Wall FG – 230mm
2.500 1 2.500 Ext Wall GH – 230mm
4.000 1 4.000 Ext Wall HI – 230mm
2.500 1 2.500 Ext Wall IJ –  230mm
2.100 1 2.100 Ext Wall JK – 230mm
Total 24.800

 

Compare the above dimension sheet with the one below. The dimension sheet below contains measurements which are hard to track or check against the drawings. The estimator literally made it hard to follow up the Dims. It’s not clear which walls have been measured and it will take a lot of effort to determine the connection and accuracy of the quantities against the drawings.

Dimensions Timesing Column Total Reference Notes
(m)
8.5 1 8.500 Ext Wall
7.7 1 7.700 Ext Wall
8.6 1 8.600 Ext  Wall
Total 24.800

Top 5 BIM Quantity Takeoff Software – 3D Model Based Estimating Solutions

 

Virtual 3D Model of House

Virtual 3D Model of House

BIM is a process that allows members of the project team to collaborate on the design elements of a 3D architectural model via a computer virtual platform. Architects, engineers, planners and the construction team have to analyze the digital model and provide their technical expertise with a goal of conforming their inputs in relation to the model, specifications, regulations and other fields of expertise which are part of the project as a whole. BIM allows incompatible elements across the model to be rectified before building commences, thus saving the client a lot of money and reducing disputes which normally arise during the construction phase. In this regard BIM may be used as a tool to assess the feasibility of a project in the planning/design stage, because it allows the project team to have a walkthrough inside the virtual model and inspect the elements.

Quantity surveyors are also part of the project team, and their major concern is the cost of the project. Fortunately, BIM does not need an estimator to measure and quantify the building elements. The virtual software does this automatically, through automatic take-off of the project 3D Model geometrics. However, when a quantifying function or auto-measurement capability is not included on BIM software, you have to look for construction quantity takeoff software that allows integration with BIM.

There are a few top BIM Quantity Takeoff software that you can find on the market because BIM is a new concept that is gradually gaining momentum in the construction industry, especially with government projects, for example in the UK (United Kingdom), BIM has been adopted by the government due to its ability to reduce costs, increase value and cut project delivery time. Indeed, a lot of time is saved because a large part of BIM is identifying issues and resolving them, which allows smooth delivery and increased productivity.

The following is a list of some of the best building quantity take-off software that can integrate with BIM:

CostX BIM Quantity Takeoff

CostX by Exactal

CostX is a construction digital takeoff software that can be integrated with BIM to automatically produce quantities. The software is developed by Exactal.com and the company has seven specialized CostX products to choose from. Some of these products for example CostX 2D and CostX Takeoff 2D, can only work with 2D digital drawings. CostX and CostX Takeoff are capable of working with BIM and 3D models. CostX Takeoff will only take you as far as taking off quantities, but the deal is that it’s done automatically. If you want advanced BIM estimating software with full BIM capabilities and powerful features such as Auto-Revise and 3D model quantity take-off, then CostX is the product to choose. There is a bonus for college and university students – instead of getting the commercial version, you should download the educational version which is free to use for 3 years.

Free Trial – 3 years for educational version.

Demo – You can test the commercial versions by requesting a demo

Navisworks BIM Quantity Takeoff

AutoDesk Quantity Takeoff  ( Replaced by Navisworks )

AutoDesk Quantity Takeoff is construction measurement software that allows you to calculate building quantities from 2D and 3D architectural models. Like most modern electronic take-off software, it can automatically generate quantities at the click of a button. AutoDesk is the same software company that makes Revit, a well-known BIM solution mostly used in the USA and other parts of the world. On the company site, there are demo videos on how you can integrate AutoDesk QT with BIM. As the whitepaper explains, the software is intrinsically built to support BIM data as well as other types of applications like CAD and AutoCAD. For costing estimating purposes, you can link the software to costing systems such as US Cost or Innovaya.

Free Trial – AutoDesk Quantity Takeoff was discontinued in 2013. It has been superseded by Navisworks which has richer quantifying capabilities. Navisworks can be integrated with Revit and other 3D modelling software. It’s also capable of 3D BIM takeoff.

Navisworks Free Trial – 30 days  Download


PriMus-IFC BIM Quantity Takeoff

Primus-IFC by ACCA Software

Primus-IFC is primarily developed to work with 3D BIM and 3D CAD models. You can automatically take-off quantities from BIM objects and price them, allowing you to get an instant cost estimate and priced Bills of Quantities that are always current with updates in BIM models and price list. Compared with other BIM quantity take-off software, Primus-IFC has well explained features that will impress a Quantity Surveyor who is looking for a smart measurement and cost estimating solution. The software works with IFC files, a commonly used standard file in most 3D BIM models. As a result, you can integrate Primus-IFC with a wide choice of BIM solutions:

  • Revit
  • ArchiCAD,
  • BIM Logic,
  • Vectorworks,
  • Edificius
  • Allplan

The estimating software also works with a lot of 3D modelling programs such as AutoDesk AutoCAD and 3D CAD. The software can convert BIM quantities to Excel, MS Word and other formats.

Free Trial – 30 days  Download

File Size – 105 MB

Set up Installer – 9 MB

BuildSoft Cubit BIM Quantity Takeoff (2)

 

Cubit by Buildsoft

Cubit is a take-off and estimating software developed by Buildsoft, an Australian company specializing in construction software. The software allows you to trace over digital drawings on your computer, so that you can generate quantities instantly. You can measure quantities from BIM files (DWFx) as well as CAD, PDF including JPEG and PNG. Integration with BIM is possible with Cubit Basic and Cubit Pro. If you need advanced BIM takeoff, you should get the Pro version.

To price your quantities, you can import pricing data from suppliers, which can be saved as a template that is natively connected to your estimate. Just by updating the prices in the template, the changes will be automatically translated to your cost estimate, generating new figures each time. The Pro version has all the features, including Bills of Quantities, Custom Report and BIM Reader.

Free Trial – 14 days Download

File Size – 58.16 MB

Vico-Office BIM Quantity Takeoff

Vico Office Takeoff Manager

Vico Office is a 5D BIM platform that supports different types of BIM files from other BIM solutions. Users can upload 3D models from Revit, ArchiCAD and Tekla and run clash detection tests. This multi-platform BIM environment allows parties to the project to exercise their roles i.e. engineers, architects, construction teams and the owner can collaborate on the virtual BIM platform for effective project management.

Vico Office has three functions that will be of use to the Estimator. These are the Vico Cost Planner, Vico Cost Explorer and Vico Takeoff Manager. The first application is for cost comparison, the second is for budget planning and the last application is for executing 3D BIM quantity take-off. Since Vico Office is a BIM platform, the Takeoff Manager will be handy for Quantity Surveyors collaborating on the platform. This feature is not only for 3D BIM takeoff, but you can also use it for 2D takeoff and add measurement items that cannot be virtualized in BIM model. To get these features, you have to download the Vico installer which installs all modules, including the Vico Office Suite.

Free Trial – Download

Revit BIM Quantity Takeoff

Revit by AutoDesk

Revit is a popular BIM software for project collaboration and 3D digital modelling. It does what any BIM platform would do, but for the Estimator, they will be interested in creating schedules for automatic 3D model quantification. Although Revit has many purposes, which are based on the virtualization and simulation of a physical building, there are companies which use Revit for the sole purpose of model takeoff. The Estimator extracts quantities from Revit to an Excel sheet for pricing or a costing solution can be connected to Revit via API. There is an educational version and commercial version for this program, both offering free trials.

Free Trial – 30 days Download

eTakeoff BIM Quantity Takeoff

eTakeoff

With eTakeoff software, you can complete measurement of construction work on your screen. All you need is a copy of the drawings in electronic format i.e. CAD or AutoCAD file. Open the electronic drawings and start measuring. The software supports dimension assemblies for group measurements, and the estimator can transfer the quantities to a costing solution to generate a cost estimate. Although eTakeoff looks like a standard application for on-screen measurement and semi-automated generation of quantities, it can be integrated with BIM.

Free Trial – 15 days Download

BIM vs. Bills of Quantities. Will 3D Model Takeoff Software Eliminate The Need for Quantity Surveyors and Estimators in Construction Projects?

3D Modelling Interior of Building

Virtual Bedroom – An Architectural 3D CAD Model of Bedroom Interior

BIM stands for Building Information Modelling. There are many perspectives in which people view BIM. It is essential to know that BIM evolved as an architectural design process based on digital 3D Modelling, but instead of the Architect being the only one involved in the design process, it is now inclusive of other parties involved in the project i.e. Structural, Mechanical, Electrical, Civil, Waste/Water Engineers, Environmental Planners as well as Building Contractors and the Owner.  While others see it as a 3D software for modelling or simulating the real-life physical design of a building, others see it as a communication tool for team collaboration, i.e. everyone involved in the project can view or provide input on the real-time model via a centralized system or cloud-based service. Some see it as a reliable dynamic database for getting up to date specifications and changes to the building design. Still, others think it’s a great tool for risk management and trouble shooting, allowing clashes, discrepancies and issues to be identified in the model before construction working drawings are sent to the contractor. For an Estimator or Quantity Surveyor, BIM might be seen as a tool for automating the production of error-free quantities from live models and eliminating manual takeoff from paper and digital blueprints. For the client (building owner), BIM will be a platform that allows him or her to monitor the design and actually see the progressive 3D visual representation of the building at any stage of the project. This gives the owner control over the design. Since every party knows what is taking place at any point, BIM provides transparency to the project as a whole. Some have compared BIM to a 3D simulation video game where the user can actually enter a virtual building and open doors to the bedroom, kitchen, living room, bath etc, enabling the user to see how the rooms look like.

BIM and the Future of Quantity Surveying

Although automating the measurement of building quantities is something that will speed up the production of cost estimates and reduce the workload for a Quantity Surveyor, it is something that has created a cause for concern for an Estimator’s job security. With the development of auto-takeoff software that can link to a BIM platform, for example CostX, and BIM solutions like Revit that have inbuilt capabilities for producing quantities automatically, people in the construction industry i.e. Architects, Civil Engineers, Project Managers, Property Developers including Quantity Surveyors themselves, have been talking about the advent of 3D auto-measuring software that will make the role of Quantity Surveyors redundant.

Will BIM eliminate the need for Estimators and Quantity Surveyors in a construction project? Although some people think so, BIM or any 3D Model-based estimating software will not kill the Quantity Surveying profession. In the early days of the profession, a Quantity Surveyor’s main role was solely taking off measurements from a plan, but the modern Quantity Surveyor has far more roles than taking off quantities. The modern Quantity Surveyor has a broader portfolio of responsibilities which include estimating,  cost planning, documentation, tender administration, contract administration, progress valuations, financial management , cost control, dispute resolution, facility management, risk management, asset management, contract law consultation, construction firm management consultation and project management services.

BIM-based auto-measuring software will allow anybody to generate quantities, a task that could only be done by quantity surveyors using on-screen takeoff programs or paper dimension sheets. However, here comes the problem – although any user can generate quantities with BIM auto-takeoff, it will take the skill of a professional Quantity Surveyor to analyze and interpret the data.

Accountants as Estimating Technicians

Some people have spoken of Accountants taking over the role of the Quantity Surveyor but what these people forget is that an Accountant does not have the Quantity Surveying technical knowledge and skills that are acquired in college training as well as on site. This lack of knowledge will not put the Accountant in a better position to analyze and interpret auto-measured quantities.

People tend to forget that a full-time Quantity Surveying course at the university or polytechnic is a balanced and well-rounded course where students take compulsory subjects in Measurement of Construction Work, Building Drawing, Construction Technology, Building Materials, Soil Mechanics, Engineering Mathematics, Surveying, Project Management, Construction Economics, Theory of Structures and Communication. All these subjects help the QS to understand the construction process and interpret the items in a Bill of Quantities as well as on site. The Accountant does not have this kind of knowledge and training which is critical in the construction industry.

BIM takeoff software will not kill the quantity surveying profession but it will give Estimators and Quantity Surveyors a new role as BIM cost estimating managers. It will also allow estimators to focus on major roles that have been stated in the earlier paragraphs. With BIM, a Quantity Surveyor will not need to measure quantities manually, a process that takes too much of an estimator’s time.

BIM versus Bills of Quantities. What is the Difference?

The information contained on a BIM platform is always current and more detailed than what you would find on a 3D AutoCAD file. At the same time, Bills of Quantities contain more information than an AutoCAD file. For example, Bills of Quantities contain detailed item descriptions, preambles to trades and specifications. Now imagine that detailed information on a BIM system, i.e. linked to 3D CAD objects, for example walls, floor finishes, plumbing and drainage etc. Updating and making changes to the model will auto-update the quantities and everything connected to the object in real time.

The difference between BIM Quantities and Bills of Quantities lies in their method of production and preparation.

BIM System

  • A quantity surveyor is not needed to take off measurements
  • Quantification happens automatically as the model takes shape
  • Any changes to the model are translated to all connected aspects of the building, no remeasurements needed.
  • BIM quantities can be extracted for costing by the estimator i.e. the user can send the quantities to an estimator for costing.
  • BIM quantities are generated instantly allowing quick cost estimates

Bills of Quantities

  • A quantity surveyor is needed to take off measurements
  • Quantities are built through manual on-screen input on a dimension sheet
  • QS has to re-measure work when changes are issued by the architect and engineers
  • After measuring, the QS has to price the Bill
  • It takes a long time to produce BOQ quantities i.e. several days or weeks

BIM Explained on YouTube Video:

QS Plus vs WinQS – Which is the Best Software for Preparing Cost Estimates, Bills of Quantities and Valuations? – Building Construction

QSPlus_WinQS Estimating Software

 

QS Plus and WinQS are both widely used software for construction cost estimating and quantity surveying. In this review, we are going to compare the two programs and outline their differences and capabilities. Both programs are developed by reputable software companies based in South Africa, and the client base includes international customers. The main features of each estimating software is outlined in the comparison table below:

Features QS Plus WinQS
Modules
  • Cost Plan/ Estimating
  • Bill Production [Module is also capable of Tender Analysis and Elemental Cost Analysis]
  • Valuations [ Module is also capable of Payment Certificates]
  • Final Account
  • Cost Plan/Estimating
  • Bill Production
  • Tender Analysis
  • Cost Analysis [cost per m2 based on Estimator defined groupings]
  • Valuations
  • Cost Report
  • Payments
Cost Estimates QS Plus has a specialized, well structured, comprehensive and clearly defined Elemental Estimate module. WinQS uses a general bill structure that requires build up effort, but you can build any type of estimate.
QS Plus has three pre-installed Estimating Guides – ASAQS, RICS and CSI Uniformat. No pre-installed Estimating Guides
Link Cost Estimate to Bill Items Link Cost Estimate to Bill Items
Auto Rate Build up Auto Rate Build up
Edit Rate Build up Edit Rate Build up
Insert Rates Directly Insert Rates Directly
Convert Elemental Cost Estimate to BOQ Automatically Generate BOQ from Cost Estimate as you work
Enter Measurements on Screen: QS Plus is powered by DimensionX on-screen take off technology. Enter Measurements on Screen: WinQS is powered by DimensionX on-screen take off technology.
  Edit Item Descriptions Edit Item Descriptions
Forced automatic global back up of WinQS projects every week.
Bills of Quantities ASAQS, SMM7, POMI, CSI Masterformat and CPWD DSR Libraries. ASAQS and JBCC-2004 Preliminaries Library
DimensionX Take off screen DimensionX Take off screen
Convert Elemental Estimate to BOQ Automatically Generate BOQ from Linked Cost Estimate
Automatically take off dimensions from AutoCAD 2D & 3D drawings. Automatically take off dimensions from AutoCAD 2D & 3D drawings.
Automatically Generate BOQ from AutoCAD 3D drawings
Take off dimensions from Revit Drawings with DimensionX.
Forced automatic global back up of WinQS projects every week.
Measurement Groups and Linking Associated Items Measurement Groups and Linking Associated Items
Bill Audit – Record Keeping of All Bill Entries & Changes.
Apply a Set of Rates to Existing and New Project.
Forced automatic global back up of WinQS projects every week.
Link Bill Items to Elemental Estimate / Cost Plan Link Bill Items to Cost Estimate / Cost Plan
Customize Bill Layout. Customize Bill Layout. Hide Bills, Items and Dimensions
Preview Dimension Sheet by Selected Parameters. Preview Dimension Sheet by Selected Parameters.
Import Bills and Bill Items from Another Project ( Including Dimensions and Rates) Copy Bills, Items and Dimensions from Another Project.
Create Bills Based on Locations, Sections and Groups Create Bills Based on Locations, Sections and Groups
Insert Bill Items From Library Add Items From Library
View Bill as Elemental Cost Plan Cost Analysis – Project Groupings in Cost Per Area
Preview Bills Preview Bills
Convert Bills to Blank Bills in Excel Format
Convert Priced Bills to PDF
Valuations Prepare Monthly Valuations Prepare Monthly Valuations
Valuations Based on Assigned Percentage, Budget Allocation and Individual Items (valued by percentage, quantity and/or amount to date) Valuations Based on Trades, Programme of Work Activities, Elements, Groups or Estimator defined groupings.
Calculate Progress Payments by Percentage, Quantity or Item Value. Calculate Progress Payments by Percentage, Quantity or Item Value.
FREEZE Contract Bill Data to Allow Ongoing Final Account Measurements. LOCK and SAVE Contract Bill (Quantities and Rates) on Activating Valuations Module to Allow Ongoing Final Account Measurements.
Certificates Report, Recovery Statements Certificates Report, Recovery Statements
Process Subcontractor Bills (e.g. Package Bills)
Final Account Enter Measurements and Re-measurements Including Prices.
Final Account Linked to BOQ
View Final Account in Elemental Estimate Format
DimensionX Take off screen
Print Final Account as Bill of Remeasurements or Schedule of Additions and Omissions.
Software Installation Can only be used on your computer. Commercial Version is licensed to a computer.

Minimum System Requirements – Windows 7 Professional / Business

Can be used on any computer. Commercial Version is licensed to a USB Dongle and Key.

Minimum System Requirements – Windows 7

Developers New Dimension Technology (Pty) Ltd,

Cape Town:
Tel: +27 11 787 5960

Johannesburg:
Tel: +27 11 789 4878

ACE Solutions CC,

Craighall, Johannesburg:
Tel: +27 11 787 5960
Tel: +27 11 789 4878

 

Free Trial Downloads Trial Version >> Get It Demo Version >> Get It

Educational Version

Price

Be rest assured that any of these two cost estimating programs will do the job because they are widely used by Professional Quantity Surveyors, Construction Cost Engineers, Building Cost Surveyors, Government  Departments (Building & Infrastructure Development), Oil/Energy Companies, Mining Corporations and even Property Developers.

WinQS and QS Plus Software in South African College/University Syllabus

University of Cape Town – UCT

Department of Construction Economics & Management:

As part of their practicals in Measurement & Design Appraisal, UCT students undergoing the Bachelor of Science in Construction Studies undergraduate programme are required to take off measurements, prepare documentation and complete the project using WinQS or QSPlus computer programs. The project in this case is usually a small-scale commercial building.

Cape Peninsula University of Technology – CPUT

Department of Construction Management & Quantity Surveying:

As part of their assessment tests, CPUT students studying Quantity Surveying are not only required to measure and prepare documentation for building, electrical, mechanical and civil engineering work, but they are also required to demonstrate their competence in using WinQS estimating software to take off quantities and compile documentation.

WinQS Estimating Software for Quantity Surveyors and Construction Cost Engineers

WinQS Quantity Surveying Software

WinQS Quantity Surveying Software

WinQS is a construction cost estimating program for professional Quantity Surveyors, Estimators and Cost Engineers. Before the era of desktop estimating software, consulting firms used to prepare Bills of Quantities on Excel sheets, which was quite a tedious and time-consuming exercise. Nowadays, you have computer software like WinQS which can increase your productive output. The on-screen take-off technology makes measurement and bill preparation an easy task that can be completed within a short time.

WinQS allows an estimator to enter measurements quickly on the take-off interface without requiring to create columns, rows, formulas and formatting as you would on a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. The estimating program saves time and it eliminates a lot of errors encountered in traditional spreadsheet bills.

If you are a construction consultant who is involved in the management of construction costs, you should know that building a house, office block, commercial property or government building is not a one-time task, but a long process that starts with planning the budget (cost estimate), and ends with negotiating the final contract amount.

WinQS has seven modules that you can use on each phase of the contract. The most important modules are the Estimating, Bill Production, Progress Valuations, Cost Report and Payment modules. Let’s see how these modules function:

Cost Estimate

During the design stage, the architect works with the client to produce a sketch design that represents the main features required by the client. At this stage, there isn’t enough information to prepare a detailed Bill of Quantities, so the Quantity Surveyor has to prepare a Cost Estimate for budgeting purposes. This Cost Plan has to be within range with the actual project cost, so the rates should be derived from combined Bill items.

WinQS does not have a structured estimate format, which can be an advantage because it allows you to create any type of cost estimate based on Building Elements, Work Groups, Activities or Approximate Quantities.  So you are not only limited to the Elemental format, which is the most preferred method of estimating. The software doesn’t come with any pre-installed Estimating Guides that you can choose from, but you can create a user-defined library.

The WinQS estimating module allows you to:

Edit Item Descriptions

You can edit items in the description column, to match your project specifications. In most cases, Estimators will rather edit a previous project than build a new project from scratch which is time consuming. A new project will require you to import a lot of item descriptions, but when projects are similar in scope and specifications, it’s much more convenient to edit a past project.

Link Items to Bills of Quantity (BOQ)

The major items in a Cost Estimate are a combination of Bill items, so the rate is an all-inclusive rate that takes into account the individual prices of Bill items. Linking the two is a logical approach if you are to produce an accurate cost estimate. WinQS can link Cost Plan items to Bill items. This allows you to track the base prices in the rate build up.

Auto Rate Build Up

Linking an estimate to a BOQ allows the rates to be updated when there are changes in prices, for example there is an increase in material prices, updating the BOQ will automatically update the estimate, saving you a lot of time that would have been used in updating individual rates.

Edit Rate Build Up

As explained above, linking is useful for automatically building up rates in the Cost Estimate. However, you can also manually insert your rates directly in the rate column. Rates which are inserted directly in the Rate column cannot be automatically updated.

Automatic Bill Generation

Provided that linking has been enabled and done, WinQS will automatically generate a Bill of Quantities as you measure the Cost Plan quantities.

DimensionX Take-off

WinQS is computer take-off software that is built from DimensionX, a technology that is used by top estimating programs in the engineering and construction industries. This technology allows you to enter measurements on a screen.

Auto Take-off from AutoCAD Drawings

WinQS has a feature to automatically measure dimensions from AutoCAD drawings. The program can measure dimensions from 2D CAD drawings and record them in dimX dimension sheets. You can also generate a complete BOQ, but you will need 3D CAD drawings. The software will measure dimensions from 3D CAD drawings, and automatically generate a Bill of Quantities.

Automatic Backup

The WinQS Global Backup feature will automatically back up your project every week. This is useful for users who frequently forget to back up their projects.

WinQS Bill of Quantities

WinQS Bill of Quantities

Bills of Quantities

The Estimator can prepare Bills of Quantities with WinQS during the pre-contract stage. A Tender Analysis module is available to analyze and evaluate tenders submitted by contractors. This module can show the Tender Adjudicator some critical information such as variances from the tender value, lowest price, highest price, bill cost distribution and the pricing structure of each bid in the form of reports.

Just like the Estimating Module, the Bill Production Module is capable of capturing plan measurements via an on-screen interface. There are three methods of creating a Bill on WinQS – i) Creating a totally new bill from the library ii) Generating a bill from a linked estimate and iii) Generating a bill from AutoCAD 3D drawings.

The following are some of the features of WinQS which you may find handy in preparing a Bill of Quantities:

  • A DimensionX interface to capture take-off measurements.
  • Automatically generate a Bill from a linked cost estimate. BOQ quantities are created and updated as you measure the Cost Plan items.
  • Automatically generate Bills from 3D AutoCAD drawings. 2D CAD drawings are also auto-measured and the measurements are stored on WinQS dimension sheets.
  • ASAQS bill model and JBCC 2004 Preliminaries are pre-installed, but you can create a user-defined library.
  • Support for SABS1200/Engineering Documents.
  • Group measurements including linking associated items.
  • Bill Audit: Record keeping of all Bill entries including changes, edits and new items.
  • Flexible application of Bill prices: Each project can be analyzed on a different set of rates which can be applied to the project. The rates can be applied to a new project in both the Estimating and BOQ modules.
  • Automatic backup of all WinQS projects in your system once a week.
  • Create Bill according to Sections, Locations and Groups.
  • Link Bill Items to Cost Plan/Estimate
  • Customize Bill layout and descriptions. You can hide selected bills, items and dimensions.
  • Dimension sheet preview by different parameters.
  • You can copy Bills from another project at bill, item and dimension level. A whole Bill can be copied to a new project.

 

Valuations

Valuations are done during the contract period when construction is progressing. The Quantity Surveyor has to measure work done on site and head back to the office to prepare a progress valuation on a computer. WinQS has a module for preparing periodic valuations and calculating progress payments. The user can prepare valuations on a monthly basis and the work done on site can be valued based on chosen groupings. It can be valued according to BOQ Trades, Programme of Work Activities, Work Groups, Elements or any grouping that suits the Estimator. The common thing about these groupings is that the user can click through to the individual Bill items or sub-groups to value them accordingly.

Monthly progress payments are determined from each/or combination of the following:

  • Percentage of activity completed,
  • Quantity
  • Item value within a location

Before valuations stage begins, the Estimator has to LOCK and SAVE the Contract Bill (rates and quantities). After locking the Bill, the Estimator can commence with valuations – measurements, additions and adjustments on the same WinQS project. Changes to the Contract Bill (dimensions, quantities, items) for example, will result in an ongoing Final Account.

To quote WinQS “All of these changes made in the WinQS project each month, will now be used to calculate the monthly Valuations.”

“For each period a new Valuations report is created that shows BOTH the Current and Previous Valuation amounts together with a NETT amount valued this month or period and the original Contract Quantities/Amounts.

Each month or periods information is saved so that current & previous valuation data is always available and previous Valuation Reports can always be printed.”

Cost Report

A Quantity Surveyor can prepare a cost report on a WinQS project during the valuations period. This report is used for project cost control purposes. A monthly report will show how much the costs have deviated from the initial Contract value as well as additional items, and money saved. Just like the Valuations module, you will be required to LOCK and SAVE the Contract Bill (rates and quantities) before generating a report.

Payment Certificates

Based on the JBCC-2000/CPAP Building Contract, this WinQS module allows you to produce monthly reports for payment certificates.

 WinQS Project Continuity across Modules

It is important to note that WinQS provides continuity between all its modules within a project , meaning that you don’t need to create a separate project or use another spreadsheet program when you doing Tender Analysis, Cost Analysis, Valuations, Cost Reports and Payments.

Using WinQS

WinQS can be used on any computer. The Commercial License requires the user to buy a USB dongle/ stick which comes with a secret key. You can start with a demo version, and upgrade later.

Developers of WinQS Estimating Software

WinQS is developed by ACE Solutions (a close corporation) with offices in South Africa. ACE stands for Advanced Cost Engineering Solutions.

PO Box 411082
Craighall
Gauteng
South Africa
2024

Tel: +27 11 787 5960
Tel: +27 11 789 4878

Email – info@winqs.co.za

 

QS Plus Estimating Software for Quantity Surveyors and Construction Cost Engineers

QS Plus

QS Plus Quantity Surveying Software

QS Plus or QS+ is cost estimating software for Quantity Surveyors and Consulting Construction Estimators. This advanced software is for professional estimators and it allows you to prepare detailed Bills of Quantities, Cost Plans (Estimates), Valuations and the Final Account.

With this software, you will be able to enter take-off quantities in a convenient and logical manner that allows you to work faster and increase your productivity.

QS Plus has four modules that a Quantity Surveyor will need in carrying out office paperwork as well as accounting for progressive work done on site. The four modules in the program can be seen as stages in the financial management of a construction project. Every building project starts with cost estimating and ends with a final account. The modules in QS+ represent the phases of a project as follows:

  1. Cost Planning/ Estimating
  2. Bill Production
  3. Valuations
  4. Final Account

 

QS Plus Elemental Cost Plan

QS Plus Elemental Cost Plan

Produce Cost Plans/Estimates

QS Plus has a module to measure and determine the cost of an architect’s preliminary sketch designs. This is called a cost plan or cost estimate. The program uses a format based on the Elemental method of estimating to find out the estimated cost of a proposed construction project.

An Elemental estimate is composed of the main elements of a building which are broken down into elemental items at the detail level. Thus when you open the estimating program, you should find a sample building project in elemental format. This is a basic template that you have to use to create a new project based on the architect’s specifications.

Depending on the measurement guide or rules that are recommended by the Association of Quantity Surveyors in your region, the software comes with three measurement guides that you can choose from. You can choose between the ASAQS, RICS and CSI Uniformat guides to Elemental Cost Estimating.

So what are the main features of the QS+ cost plan?

The following are some of the main features of the Cost Plan that you will appreciate as you become familiar with the program:

Ability to Edit Elemental Item Description

QS+ has a ready to use estimating template that you can modify according to your needs and project specifications. Each Elemental item in the cost analysis has component details that you can edit to put the correct descriptions and data. For example, you can edit the material specifications – type of finishes, windows, doors, sizes of concrete footings, columns and bases etc to reflect information from current drawings.

Ability to Edit Elemental Build Up Rates

Every building project has its own specifications. The types of materials used, item dimensions and construction technology will differ, so you have to click through to access the build up rates for each elemental item. An elemental item is a composite item consisting of different components, for example, when measuring Unreinforced Concrete Footings, the component items will include excavations, compaction, concrete footings, risk of collapse and backfilling.

Note that these components are actually Bill of Quantity items, and therefore they have their own individual rates. An estimator has to input these rates in the Elemental Rate Build up. For each new project, you have to edit the rates and put appropriate rates that are relevant to the project specifications.

Ability to Link Elemental Rates to BOQ items

As explained above, the elemental rates can be linked to Bill of Quantity (BOQ) items. Linking is a reliable method of pricing a cost estimate because the rates are based on a BOQ which relies on building material supplier quotes. Alternatively, if you have no time for editing and updating the Elemental Rate Build Up, you can insert rates directly in the Unit Rate column, but remember that it should be a composite rate, not a straight rate from the Bill of Quantities.

Ability to Convert Elemental Cost Estimate to Bills of Quantities

Due to the inbuilt linking feature that links an Elemental Cost Plan item to a Bill of Quantities, you can convert the cost estimate to a Bill of Quantities in an instant. This is the fastest way of producing a provisional Bill of Quantities but a few adjustments to quantities will need to be made to fix the discrepancies caused by the different methods of measurements. Descriptions will also need to be updated to show detail as required by the system of measurement.

Ability to Take off Quantities with DimensionX

QSPlus allows you to enter take-off quantities into a dimension sheet which automatically links and updates the item quantities, resulting in an updated project cost. The take-off program is powered by DimensionX. Dimension sheets are built into all modules of QS+, including the Cost Plan estimating module.

 

Produce Bills of Quantities

The QSPlus Bill Production module allows you to prepare a detailed Bill of Quantities during the pre-tender stage when working drawings are completed by the architect. At this stage, the Quantity Surveyor has to prepare a BOQ for tendering. There are two ways in which this can be done – i) Converting an elemental estimate to a Bill or ii) Measuring quantities from scratch – this involves taking off quantities from a architectural plan and entering them in the BOQ dimension sheet.

QS Plus has the following features to assist you in preparing a BOQ:

  • A function to convert your Elemental Estimate to Bill of Quantity items. Conversion is instant but you have to adjust the quantities and update the descriptions. You can track Bill items to the cost plan and vice versa.
  • A take-off interface/dimension sheet based on DimensionX to enter measurements.
  • Group measurements: You can create groups based on an elemental unit of measurement, and then link associated items to that group. For example, when measuring a window, you have to link window cills, lintels, painting, as well as adjustments for openings (brickwalls and wall finish). A BOQ based on group measurements is much faster to produce than a regular Bill because you only need to measure the group element.
  • Create Bills based on Locations, Sections or Work Groups.
  • Customize Bill layout (Columns, Paging etc)
  • Import Bills and Bill Items from another project ( including dimensions and rates)
  • Insert Bill Items from Library
  • Link Bill Items to Cost Plan/Elemental Estimate
  • Ability to view the Bill as an Elemental Cost Plan showing the items in cost per square metre.
  • Preview bills prior to printing.
  • Dimension sheet preview and printing.
  • Multiple bill formats based on 5 systems of measurements – the ASAQS, SMM7, POMI, CSI Masterformat and CPWD DSR methods of measurement.
  • Convert Bills to Excel format for contractor tendering purposes.
  • Convert QS Priced Bills to PDF for client and architect updating.
  • AutoCAD take-off with DimensionX
  • Revit Drawings take-off with DimensionX

 

Progress Valuations

During the contract stage, an Estimator will find QSPlus useful in preparing progress payments and valuations. The QSPlus Valuation Module is capable of preparing valuations based on the percentage of work done, available budget and individual items (which can themselves be valued by percentage, quantity or amount to date).

  • You can freeze BOQ data, pay for initial items in the Bill, and modify the contract. The Estimator will have access to all historical amounts as he or she prepares valuations.
  • There is room for delayed/late work to be valued completely.
  • The program allows forwarding of data between successive valuations. As you work on each valuation certificate, you can see figures from the last certificate. If there are any changes, you have to input them.
  • You can prepare certificates and recover money from advance payments.
  • Allows processing of subcontractor data.

 

Prepare Final Account

The Final Account is prepared at the end of the contract. The QS+ Final Account module can help you finalize the contract amount.

  • You will be able to enter measurements and re-measurements as required including item prices.
  • The Final Account is linked to the BOQ, so you can track figures between the documents. You can easily omit items by selection, and add new items to the Final Account.
  • The Final Account can be viewed in Elemental Estimate format.
  • Like in the BOQ module, you can take-off quantities and enter them via the DimensionX interface.
  • When the Final Account is done, you can print the document as a Bill of Remeasurements or Schedule of Additions and Omissions.

 

Makers of QSPlus Estimating Software

QSPlus is made by New Dimension Technology Pty Ltd, South Africa. The company, which specializes in software applications for the construction industry also makes related products such as Builder Plus and AutoSpec.

New Dimension Technology has offices in Johannesburg and Cape Town.

Cape Town   Tel: +27 21 447 5752

Johannesburg   Tel: +27 11 804 6442

 

QSPlus Free Trial Version

To start using QSPlus software, you can download the trial version from the company website >> CLICK HERE  After testing the trial version, you can upgrade to a full module.

 

12 Features of the Best Construction Cost Estimating Software – Quantity Surveying

Best Estimating Software For Construction Projects

A serious construction estimator needs a good program to calculate the estimated cost of building a property. A window shopping trip on the internet will reveal a number of cost estimating software, which upon testing, it becomes apparent that the developers didn’t incorporate the input of a professional quantity surveyor, who knows the take-off process better than anybody in the construction industry. That’s why you should take time to test any software before you buy it. Although a software program is touted to be a specialist program for a specific task or profession, it may turn out to be something unexpected or something too basic to be of any use for a professional estimator.

Look for programs that give you a free trial period of at least 30 days. During this period, you should be able to experiment with all the features and come to a conclusion. There is a variety of programs with different capabilities and you should know what you are looking for if you are an estimator. If you are not an estimating technician, software with a few basic functions will be suitable for you. This might be a simple program that allows you to input values (e.g. Floor Area) to calculate the estimated cost. For advanced estimating gurus, you will need a program with full capabilities, from taking off quantities to creating a Bill of Quantities, as well as preparing valuation certificates.

The best cost estimating software has the following features:

Bill of Quantities Layout

On opening the software, you should see a sample BOQ that guides you in measuring different trades from Earthworks to Plumbing and Drainage. The interface should look familiar if you have ever handled Bills of Quantities i.e. the page layout is programmed and designed to look exactly like the hard copy that you are going to print. The software should give you a choice of page layouts and if you are a consultant, it is good to use a standard layout that is consistent with your product. Changing layouts for every project does not do any good for your brand and reputation. After a few projects, you should have an idea of a layout that works best for your needs. A standard layout consists of six columns – Item No, Description, Quantity, Unit, Rate and Price.

Cost Estimate Layout

A cost estimate is the first estimate that a Technician makes in the early stages of project planning. It is followed by a detailed BOQ when tender drawings are available. Advanced software allows you to create an estimate based on approximate quantities. A more reliable estimate that is used by professionals is the Elemental Estimate. The good thing about this estimate is that it can be linked to a BOQ.The interface and layout of an estimate is going to be different to that of a BOQ.

BOQ Layers

An estimating program should have layers where you can edit and enter details. The BOQ page is the first layer that you should see when you open a project on your computer. You should be able to click to the next page or choose a Trade from the menu. When measuring a project, the first Bill is Earthworks. Like every other page in a BOQ, the layout has columns for Item No, Description, Unit, Quantity, Rate and Price.

Columns like Description can be edited directly on the first layer, but a column for Quantities is edited on the second layer. This involves clicking through to access the dimension sheet. The dimension sheet is opened to enter measurements obtained from a plan takeoff.

Rates can be entered on the first layer but if the program has a Rate Build Up feature, you have to click through to the second layer to build up your rates.

Cost Estimate Layers

The concept of layers also applies to an Elemental Estimate. Since an estimate is done separately from a BOQ, it comes with its own layers for entering dimensions and editing the rate build up formula. The sections and descriptions are also different to that of a BOQ.

Linking the Cost Estimate to Bills of Quantities

An advanced cost estimating software allows you to link an estimate to a new Bill of Quantities. You are able to create a Bill based on major items from an estimate. Depending on the capabilities of the program, you can convert elemental quantities into Bill items, saving you a lot of work that would be required when starting from scratch. Elemental quantities such as foundations, floors, walls, windows, doors and finishes can be imported into a new BOQ, and you only need to do a few adjustments if the drawings haven’t changed much.

Prepopulated Template

A prepopulated template saves you a lot of work and effort that would be required in learning the program. There are computer programs that allow you to work with a sample project but unless you upgrade to a full version, you won’t be able to print the project. Programs like these are useful because you have a lot of time to learn the program and create projects using essential features.

Switching Between Layers

While you are working on a project, you should be able to switch between the dimensions and the interface of the BOQ item that you are measuring. The most convenient procedure when measuring an item involves selecting the item and clicking through to the dimension sheet, entering measurements and saving your work. You then exit the dimension sheet to select the next item on your Bill.

Dimension Sheet

Any program which doesn’t have a dedicated dimension sheet that functions as a worksheet will be a pain to use. Sadly, there are programs out there which don’t have a convenient dimension sheet. With such programs, you have to add up all your take-offs on paper or calculator before you enter the measurements on the program as a single figure. An estimating dimension sheet should not just be a space to enter numbers that you have worked out off the computer, it should be a fully functional calculation and data entry sheet that works like a Microsoft Excel worksheet. There is a reason why many Estimators like Excel, it is the best program for calculations and data organization. However, when you get an estimating program with a good dimension sheet, you will never need Excel.

Convert Bill to Excel or PDF

An estimator often needs to send an electronic copy of the estimate or BOQ to the client and other parties in the construction team. During the tendering process, some contractors will request a blank copy of the Bill in Excel format. They use this copy to input and adjust their rates before transferring the final rates to the Bid documents. Copies of the Bill in PDF format are also sent to the Architect and Consulting Engineers prior to a scheduled meeting. The client will need to see a copy of the Bill for purposes of budgeting and financing.

Prepare Valuation Certificates

It is hard to find cost estimating software which can actually prepare valuation certificates, only a few programs exist and they are usually the advanced ones. Preparing valuations is the job of a professional estimator and there are standard procedures set by professional bodies which should be followed. If you can get a program that includes valuations, then you should go for it because it will save you a lot of work i.e. the work that you are required to put in an Excel worksheet.

Locations and Sections

When preparing a Bill of Quantities, you have to plan how you are going to group your work. Work can be grouped into Sections, these are BOQ trades (e.g.Earthworks, Concrete and Formwork, Brickwork, Roofing, Ironmongery, Carpentry and Joinery, Metalwork, Plumbing etc).

If the project drawings involve multi-storey buildings, departmental buildings and complex housing, it is more convenient to group the works into Locations. Locations are separate mini-bills and after measuring the work items in all locations, you will get a total cost of each location. To find the total cost of the whole project, simply add up the locations.

There are estimating software programs that allow you to create Locations. The default organization for most BOQs is Sectional planning, but you should have an option to create Locations.

Print Out Dimensions & Bill Preview

A program that allows you to print data on the second layer (i.e. Dimension Sheet) is useful because you need to see this data in order to check the accuracy of the calculations. A senior Quantity Surveyor can check the work of a Junior Estimator by printing out the dimension sheets. A contractor who wants to dispute item measurements can ask the QS to print out a dimension sheet.

A Bill of Quantities has to be previewed before printing out. This allows you to see any errors that you might have made. You have to check the descriptions, rates and the layout.

WinQS and QSPlus Estimating & Quantity Surveying Programs

Are you looking for software with all the essential features stated above? Among the best software that you can find in the world are two products from South Africa. WinQS and QSPlus are two of the best professional construction estimating software for Quantity Surveyors with all the features stated above. They are used by most Quantity Surveying firms in South Africa and English speaking countries such as Australia, UK and Ireland.

  1. WinQS Program
  2. QSPlus Program