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:
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.
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.
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.
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 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,
- 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.”
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.
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.
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
Tel: +27 11 787 5960
Tel: +27 11 789 4878
Email – firstname.lastname@example.org