Construction Estimating Software – Is Your Time Worth It?

By:  Cyd Oldham           



General contractors face multi-faceted duties and demanding responsibilities.  In order to be successful as a building contractor you will need to be determined, persistent, and must be able to think outside the box when seeking resolutions to problems.  Having the ability to make decisions and the experience that time brings are also helpful qualities for a person who seeks to be a building contractor.


As a general contractor it will be up to you to provide all of the labor, equipment, and materials for the construction project.  Of course, you will hire subcontractors who specialize in each field of work that needs to be done on the project.


Depending on the size of the project, you may also be responsible for obtaining permits and licenses, providing security for the construction site throughout the project, and managing construction waste.  You will definitely need to monitor the various schedules of the construction project, cash flow, and the budget … all while keeping very accurate records as the project progresses.


The budget is of special concern to you as a general contractor.  Before you can even begin any of other tasks, a budget must be established, and this usually begins with blueprint estimating, or “Take-off.”  Fortunately, the days of bending over blueprints spread out on an enormous table for hours, with your pencil and calculator in hand are over.  New software programs called construction estimating software makes this task faster and more accurate.  In the construction industry – time is money.


Estimating software such as Takeoff Live allows you to download your plans into your computer.  These programs accept many formats, including JPEG, TIFF, DWF Adobe, PDF, and most CAD documents.  Once the takeoffs have been uploaded and are up on the screen, measurements and calculations can be made automatically. 


Once your budget has been established, you can get on with your many obligations.  As you implement the construction plan, it will be up to you to hire, supervise, and sometimes fire employees who work on the project with you.  Additionally, you must monitor time sheets carefully and take care of the payroll in a timely manner. 


You are also ready to begin obtaining building materials.  This will require you to communicate with various suppliers and maintain an affable relationship with them.  The ability of a contractor to communicate well with suppliers, subcontractors, employees, city officials, and the property owner are essential.  This can help avoid delays, and often keep costs down.


As construction begins and progresses, all necessary licenses and permits, ranging from building permits to zoning permits must be obtained.  It is the general contractor’s responsibility to know the laws and regulations relating to these documents and follow them strictly.


The exacting responsibilities of a general contractor require a great deal of time and attention, but this beehive of activity really begins with the contractor estimate from which the all-important budget is prepared.  With the innovation of construction take off software, this vital task is now less of a burden.