Estimating Cost Data Frameworks

Just Some of the Estimating Data Frameworks or Taxonomies* We’re Prepared to Work With You On:

  • General Contractor
  • Kitchen & Bath Contractor
  • Concrete & Masonry
  • Rough Framing
  • Finish Carpentry
  • Landscape Contractor
  • Roofer
  • Electrician
  • Plumber
  • Walls & Ceilings
  • Painting
  • Handyman
  • Decorative Iron Work
  • Exhibit Trade Show Fabricator
  • Theatrical Scenery

*What’s a taxonomy? A taxonomy  is:

1. the science or technique of classification.

2. a classification into ordered categories: a proposed taxonomy of educational objectives construction estimating data.

“The terms “splitters” and “lumpers” come from taxonomy, where the classifiers were separated into those who liked to create new taxa because of small differences and those who preferred to coalesce categories because of similarities. The concept has found wider applicability as knowledge in all fields expands. Specialists are confined to ever-narrowing domains while generalists survey the immensity of information in an effort, one hopes, to find higher orders of structure.”

Harold Morowitz, U.S. biologist, educator. “Splitters and Lumpers,” The Wine of Life and Other Essays on Societies, Energy & Living Things, St. Martin’s (1979).

We provide our users with a general framework of estimating cost items but no two builders, remodelers, or trade contractors are the same and they all have their differences in both productivity rates, their bare labor costs and even the costs of the materials they install. Our stock data framework is designed to be modified by the user to fit and reflect their company’s real cost structure and we will work with your company to show you how to convert the flat data in our framework into your own customized fully relational and sustainable data set and specialty contractors and project contractors in other industries may need a completely unique custom set of data items we haven’t included in our stock general framework (call us to discuss your data requirements).

Just What is Fully Relational Sustainable Estimating Data?

Fully relational estimating data is data that dynamically pulls data elements from different database tables such as crew rates, productivity rates, and material costs and combines them into a single line of estimating data. The advantage to having relational data as opposed to ‘flat’ date is that when the user changes the data from one of those base elements all the unit cost book records that contain a link to that cost for that element can then be dynamically updated to reflect that new cost. i.e. for a framing contractor the cost of a 2 x 4 might be linked to ten or even a hundred different records. When the cost for the piece changes all those records would be updated to reflect the new cost of that material. Likewise you might be paying a workers comp rate of 18% on a particular trade. If that rate changes up or down all the records related to that carpenter position in your costbook would be changed to reflect the change in you comp rate.

As your company costs change over the months and years the relational data in your costbook will change too to reflect those new costs.

Using “Canned” Estimating Data

“Canned” Estimating Data is the phrase I use (and I’m sure many other professionals do to) to describe using estimating data that comes from an estimating data books such as companies like R.S. Means, Craftman’s, BNI, or RemodelMax produce. For 360 Difference users who want to use one of those estimating data providers we can set up and “bolt-on” one of those 3rd party databases.

As helpful as using that data can be to get yourself started there are some real intrinsic problems that come along with using that data as it comes right out of the can so to speak. All the way back in 2001 in a discussion on the Uniformat & Masterformat classification systems in the JLC Online Forums years ago Jim Erwin the developer of the now defunct Synapse Software Buildworks once wrote regarding the use of “canned estimating data” (05-04-2001):

IMHO, doing detailed item estimating for residential using national costbook prices is like using a community toothbrush. If someone is going to the time and effort of detailed item based estimating, they should only be doing it with their own regular items and the current prices that they pay. If they don’t want to make that effort, then they should be doing unit cost estimating with composite line items and historical data. Considering the narrow margins, high cost of delivering a finished product, and the risks of running a business, just “winging it” is a formula for disaster. Estimating is not a total solution. Defined work processes, effective controls, professional customer relations, and a method of measuring and comparing performance all have to be apart of a successful plan for profit.

Still those databases have their place and can potentially jumpstart your estimating process. We recommend you call us to discuss you needs.

Your Company’s Historical Data

Many contractors already have built up libraries of historic estimating cost data over the years for the tasks and projects their company performs stored in Excel spreadsheets, MS Access or even FileMaker databases. We can import that data into 360 Difference and if the data is “flat” we can structure it so it then becomes fully relational.

Can We Help You Build and/or Maintain Your Estimating System?

Yes, we certainly can. Specialty contractors or even real cost conscious GCs may want and need a set of fully relational customized estimating data for their company’s operations. We can either either work with your staff to help you develop the data in-house or do all the R&D for you ourselves.

Call us to discuss importing and structuring your companies data

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