Avoiding Outdated Estimating Techniques to Reduce Takeoff Time

Avoiding Outdated Estimating Techniques to Reduce Takeoff Time

October 22, 2020

For commercial construction companies to scale, you need to be at the forefront of modern technology to help you move faster through your processes while maintaining a high level of accuracy.

“Without an accurate cost estimate, nothing short of an act of God can be done to prevent a loss, regardless of management’s competence, financial strength of the contractor, or know-how.” —International Journal of Engineering and Technical Research

All successful projects start with a great estimate. Ask the average construction manager to rate their estimating techniques, and you likely find their self-rating to be above average, which is no surprise. But some people with low competence think of themselves as experts. When it comes to construction estimating techniques, overconfidence can kill projects—and so can the use of outdated and improper estimating tools.

“Seat of the Pants” Estimating Techniques Will Burn Your Britches

As Construction Business Owner puts it, “The ideal scenario is that a construction business owner can gauge profitability before the project even gets underway. Otherwise, you’re not only losing money on jobs; you’re putting your business at risk.”

For a small construction project, you have no problem tracking all the numbers in your head, right? For more complex projects, when memory doesn’t serve, the proverbial napkin or other “cheat sheet” keeps your most essential numbers close at hand. This is a formula for disaster.

Construction Business Owner’s “Cost Overruns in Construction” describes many reasons for cost overruns, including errors in budgeting/estimating a construction project, costs required beyond the scope of work, tools and equipment costs that exceed project allocation, and easily missed costly errors.

With so many opportunities for estimating techniques to go astray, why hobble yourself with the wrong tool? The fact is, manual techniques leave far too much room for error, regardless of how highly you value your estimates.

Manual Estimating Is Bad But Don’t Stop at Digital

Digital takeoffs involve the same process as manual takeoffs, the main difference being that many of the more complex processes are automated. Digital takeoffs also offer other advantages over manual takeoffs, including:

  • Increased accuracy
  • Decreased production time
  • Lower requirement for expertise

However, both Excel spreadsheets and manual data tracking methods open up your project to multiple risks, including problems of integration, scalability, accuracy, and support. For more on this topic, we recommend “Software Estimating vs. Excel Estimating—What’s the Difference?” and “The Top 5 Risks of Construction Estimating Using Excel.”

Self-assessment time: If you answer “no” to any of the following questions, then you need a new way of working, preferably by using new construction cost estimating software:

  • Does your current software support your estimating methods and processes?
  • Does it support fast and easy collaboration?
  • Can your estimate data be updated and used across all project locations?
  • Is it robust?
  • Does it integrate with other software or platforms you already use?

In other words: What’s better than an Excel spreadsheet (even an online/shared one)? Real-time, cloud-based integration built specifically around your business.

Today’s cloud-based construction estimating (and more) tools offer all the benefits of digital solutions, as well as the serious advantage of a “one-stop” solution that is always up to date—both in terms of the latest program version and your latest data—and accessible anywhere via smart, connected devices.

“Most contractors will outgrow Excel spreadsheets as the scale and complexity of estimating projects increase, running the risk of reduced profitability and competitive disadvantage. Contractors who envision future growth are encouraged to consider the short- and long-term benefits of data-based estimating software, including improved accuracy, scalability, and a dedicated support team.” —ProEst

The stakes are too high for you to be using improper, outdated tools and estimating techniques to run your business. It’s the 21st century, after all, and Excel was so last century.

For additional reading on this topic, we recommend: “How to Ditch Your Construction Cost Estimating Spreadsheet,” “How to Reduce Your Commercial Construction Takeoff Time,” and “How to Improve Your Commercial Construction Cost Estimation Process.”

ProEst Can Help

“ProEst is an all-inclusive construction estimating software program that provides some of the best project management and digital takeoff tools in the construction industry. It's primarily designed for commercial construction businesses, but its range of digital takeoff tools, combined with its informative databases, make it a versatile construction estimating application.” —Business.com

ProEst is a powerful, easy-to-use construction estimating platform that helps companies like yours quickly create accurate, competitive bids for your construction projects. With the construction bidding process, you can create estimates, perform digital blueprint takeoffs, store project drawings, and manage the bid day process using a single solution.


For commercial construction companies to scale, you need to be at the forefront of modern technology to help you move faster through your processes while maintaining a high level of accuracy. ProEst’s features help you do just that—request a free demo today!

ProEst is a cloud-based pre-construction estimating platform that helps you create accurate estimates and digital takeoffs directly from blueprints quickly, allowing you to determine the most favorable rates for your company within the estimation process. There’s no guesswork involved. ProEst makes quality project estimation assurance in commercial construction companies effortless. You won’t have to engage your entire team to be sure your numbers are accurate.

To learn more about how your commercial construction company can reduce takeoff time to estimate faster, with greater accuracy, reach out today and schedule a 1-on-1 walkthrough with one of our specialists!