Marcus Jefford, managing director of Build Aviator explains how intelligent estimating software and services can help builders be more profitable, efficient and spend more time on the tools.

With more people working from home than ever and after spending months confined to our houses, demand for extensions and conversions has soared.

In fact, at Build Aviator, between the start of lockdown one and summer 2020, we saw an 80% increase in quotes as consumers look to spend the cash they’ve saved on holidays and socialising to improve where they live.

While this rebound was just what our industry needed, it does bring challenges and especially when it comes to costing up and planning jobs. For most builders, the admin side of things isn’t why they came into the industry. Just the other day, a customer of ours summed it up well: “I became a builder to be a builder, not a guy sat in an office.” But in these circumstances, many trades are having to spend more time sourcing materials, subcontractors and providing quotes for customers than actually being on the tools.

Fortunately, there are lots of ways using an estimating service can help.

Less time guestimating

We all know the drill…evenings and weekends are spent costing up jobs and preparing quotes for customers when you’d rather be relaxing or spending time with the family. And because you’re keen to get through it, you don’t always give estimates the time and effort they deserve.

When you use an estimating service like Build Aviator, the hassle of quoting is removed. After uploading your plans, you’ll be assigned a dedicator estimator who has tonnes of experience in costing jobs and often, is an ex-trade themself. Working with you, they’ll look for simple omissions like plant hire or miscalculations of material volume can be the difference between profit and loss, a satisfied customer or a complaint, and a night off or a night number crunching.

When that’s done, they’ll also produce a full, professional report – including one for you and a shorter version for your client – with a full materials list, schedule of work and a quote broken down section by section using your defined labour rates and profit margins. It can also be personalised with your company details for a truly professional look.

Not only does this give you back your evenings and weekends, it also means you have a more detailed, accurate estimate that, ultimately, will give you more profit.

Sourcing materials

While some in the construction industry have found ways around material shortages in the pandemic with secret WhatsApp groups for bricks, blocks and plaster, this approach isn’t sustainable or a productive use of time.

Estimating services help with sourcing materials because they include a schedule of works. In each report, you can easily see when you’ll need materials and how much you’ll need too.

While most estimating services providers do this, the difference is that Build Aviator estimates integrate with merchant software, giving you a truer picture of lead times and flagging potential supply issues even before the start of a project. This means you can work with your merchant to make sure hard-to-source materials are ordered well in advance and ready and waiting when you need them.

Sourcing subbies

Beyond materials, this detailed schedule of works helps with labour too. By knowing what’s happening when, you’ll have a better idea of when you’ll need to find an electrician, a plumber or a plasterer, rather than knowing a few days before.

While admin is part and parcel of the job, it doesn’t have to take up valuable time and take you away from why you got into the trade in the first place. By working with service providers like Build Aviator you can keep building and make the most of the upturn in work.