Archive for 2009

Because Estimating is the New Darling of Construction Companies!

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Barry Cassell

Barry Cassell

I’ve been asked by one of my industry software provider friends to write a piece on the current state of Building Information Modeling (BIM), as it relates to estimating in the here and now.

The topic has become increasingly relevant as the software driving the standard is  evolving quickly. (Or is it the demand that’s drving the software, fueling the growth? No matter.) BIM is fully useful now.

In fact, the oil and gas industry has been modeling its projects for thirty years,
not starting construction until the model is complete, and all potential design conflicts resolved. In the building sector, BIM is largely confined to the design-build arena. Why Design- Build? Because you need to own the drawings to have sufficient access to the CAD objects, or be on a truly team-oriented project that shares its resources openly among all project players. Not found on the conventional (read archaic) low-bid project!

To the uninitiated, the BIM standard (also known as Virtual Design & Construction or VDC)
requires “intelligent” design objects, rather than mere lines on the digital plan page. These
objects contain rich data including material dimensions, quantities, and types, to name just a
few attributes that sets modeled objects apart from conventional 2-D CAD lines. The 3-D
model can be rotated and viewed from any angle, including virtual walk-through capability.

Additionally, built-in clash-detection attributes prohibit drawing ducts through windows, or
electrical lines through ducts. It has evolved to the point of “5-D” technology: following the
more familiar 3-D design standards, “4-D” designates Time (project scheduling) data within the
model, and “5-D” the material takeoff quantity information, all built in to the drawings!

So why doesn’t everybody do it? Several reasons: High initial Cost is followed by a steep
Learning Curve, and topped off with multiple competing and Incompatible Software Standards.
Real world project experiences include glowing tales of months and millions shaved off
projects.

But likewise we hear some horror stories of high investment with puny returns. Unless
the entire project team is on board utilizing the same tools, those without are at a considerable
disadvantage. All major subs need to have fully compatible software, which doesn’t happen on
many projects under $50mm. And even with the resources and willingness to do all of the
above, the top three competing software tools are incompatible with each other. AutoDesk
doesn’t talk to Bentley, and neither works with Vico. The Army Corps of Engineers mandated a
year ago that Bentley and Autodesk must adhere to a common comapatible standard, but
nobody I know has seen it yet.

So how does this relate to estimating? Tools which interface between the model and estimate
applications are becoming increasingly available, in both proprietary and software-neutral
platforms. US Cost, Win Estimator, Bentley, and Vico have authored their own dedicated tools to
map and import the quantity takeoff information into their estimating applcations. Sage
Timberline requires a third-party interface, such as Innovaya’s Visual Estimating to import the
data. The speed of this software is truly amazing. I’ve watched Innovaya read complex models,
and execute literally days of quantity takeoff in minutes into a Timberline estimate. It’s truly
amazing.

And if the model changes, simply run the takeoff again for virtually instant update of
only the changed components. Which brings to light the obvious question, are we estimators
dinosaurs? The answer is no, for two reasons.

First, the model doesn’t contain “invisible” apects of the project such as mobilization, supervision,
temporary facilities, or necessary omponents such as formwork and scaffolding.

Second, and perhaps even more reassuring is hat it still takes a human mind to evaluate productivity,
and account for  weather conditions, as wll as the unique project constraints and advantages that
differentiate one project from aother. Where we’re saving estimating hours, (and ultimately potentially
reducing estimate staff requirements), is on what I call the “donkey work” of quantity takeoff. For that,
I for one say good riddance!

Have questions?  Want to know more?  Then ask Barry!  He’d love to hear from you.  Contact Gary
by going here.

December 30th, 2009 at 3:55 pm

Posted in Estimating

Tagged with

ADOT To Soon Offer Even MORE Stimulus Jobs!

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The current economic climate t is actually a very good thing for the Arizona Department of Transportation. Originally, ADOT received $350 million dollars as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The state allocated the stimulus money for a set amount of jobs, then put them out to bid.

Then an interesting thing happened. The economy brought in such highly competitive buds, there is actually a surplus of $114 million dollars.That means you can expect to see dozens more ADOT jobs to be put to bid in the next few months. At this time 59 stimulus jobs are underway across the state.

Want a complete breakdown of the work being done? Go to http://www.azdot.gov/recovery/.

September 27th, 2009 at 12:32 am

Sage Timberline September Savings

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All this month you can save on Sage Timberline Office and Sage Master Builder when buying additional uses or modules.

Buy one additional module or use and get 10% off!
Buy two additional modules or uses and get 15% off!
Buy three or more additional modules or uses and get 20% off!

Estimators – we didn’t forget about you on this deal! John Fredley’s Advanced Databases are ALSO included.

Don’t forget to use the promo code C-0325 for Sage Timberline Office and C-0326 for Sage Master Builder.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact either me, Myrna, or Daren at anytime!!

September 2nd, 2009 at 6:52 pm

Arizona Ponies Up $60 Million More For Stimulus Projects

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The Arizona Department of Transportation finds itself with an extra $60 million dollars for more projects. That means ADOT will soon be bidding out more projects.

Originally ADOT budgeted for and signed off on 41 jobs but those projects came in WAY under the estimated bid. So much so, there is now more money for more projects.

ADOT is putting those projects together and have not yet but them out to bid. To check on its progress go here.

August 31st, 2009 at 4:06 pm

BIM & The Estimator by Barry Cassell

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Barry Cassell

Barry Cassell

I’ve been asked by one of my industry software provider friends to write a piece on the current state of Building Information Modeling (BIM), as it relates to estimating in the here and now.

The topic has become increasingly relevant as the software driving the standard is  evolving quickly. (Or is it the demand that’s drving the software, fueling the growth? No matter.) BIM is fully useful now.

In fact, the oil and gas industry has been modeling its projects for thirty years,
not starting construction until the model is complete, and all potential design conflicts resolved. In the building sector, BIM is largely confined to the design-build arena. Why Design- Build? Because you need to own the drawings to have sufficient access to the CAD objects, or be on a truly team-oriented project that shares its resources openly among all project players. Not found on the conventional (read archaic) low-bid project!

To the uninitiated, the BIM standard (also known as Virtual Design & Construction or VDC)
requires “intelligent” design objects, rather than mere lines on the digital plan page. These
objects contain rich data including material dimensions, quantities, and types, to name just a
few attributes that sets modeled objects apart from conventional 2-D CAD lines. The 3-D
model can be rotated and viewed from any angle, including virtual walk-through capability.

Additionally, built-in clash-detection attributes prohibit drawing ducts through windows, or
electrical lines through ducts. It has evolved to the point of “5-D” technology: following the
more familiar 3-D design standards, “4-D” designates Time (project scheduling) data within the
model, and “5-D” the material takeoff quantity information, all built in to the drawings!

So why doesn’t everybody do it? Several reasons: High initial Cost is followed by a steep
Learning Curve, and topped off with multiple competing and Incompatible Software Standards.
Real world project experiences include glowing tales of months and millions shaved off
projects.

But likewise we hear some horror stories of high investment with puny returns. Unless
the entire project team is on board utilizing the same tools, those without are at a considerable
disadvantage. All major subs need to have fully compatible software, which doesn’t happen on
many projects under $50mm. And even with the resources and willingness to do all of the
above, the top three competing software tools are incompatible with each other. AutoDesk
doesn’t talk to Bentley, and neither works with Vico. The Army Corps of Engineers mandated a
year ago that Bentley and Autodesk must adhere to a common comapatible standard, but
nobody I know has seen it yet.

So how does this relate to estimating? Tools which interface between the model and estimate
applications are becoming increasingly available, in both proprietary and software-neutral
platforms. US Cost, Win Estimator, Bentley, and Vico have authored their own dedicated tools to
map and import the quantity takeoff information into their estimating applcations. Sage
Timberline requires a third-party interface, such as Innovaya’s Visual Estimating to import the
data. The speed of this software is truly amazing. I’ve watched Innovaya read complex models,
and execute literally days of quantity takeoff in minutes into a Timberline estimate. It’s truly
amazing.

And if the model changes, simply run the takeoff again for virtually instant update of
only the changed components. Which brings to light the obvious question, are we estimators
dinosaurs? The answer is no, for two reasons.

First, the model doesn’t contain “invisible” apects of the project such as mobilization, supervision,
temporary facilities, or necessary omponents such as formwork and scaffolding.

Second, and perhaps even more reassuring is hat it still takes a human mind to evaluate productivity,
and account for  weather conditions, as wll as the unique project constraints and advantages that
differentiate one project from aother. Where we’re saving estimating hours, (and ultimately potentially
reducing estimate staff requirements), is on what I call the “donkey work” of quantity takeoff. For that,
I for one say good riddance!

Have questions?  Want to know more?  Then ask Barry!  He’d love to hear from you.  Contact Gary
by going here.

August 26th, 2009 at 2:18 pm

Construction Unemployment Still Rising…

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The construction industry continues to hold the unhappy distinction of having THE highest unemployment rate. Last month that rate rose even higher to 18.2%, for the month of July that’s decidedly up from 17.4% in June.

According to the latest release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics the construction industry lost another 76,000 jobs in July compared to an average of 73,000 over the previous three months. So far 1.3 million construction jobs have been lost since the recession began.

The current construction unemployment rate is now double that of the country’s overall unemployment rate which stands at 9.4%.

To review all of the BLS statistic, go here.

August 17th, 2009 at 12:52 pm

Ledgerwood Associates, Inc./Barry Cassell Estimating Tips…

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When it comes to Estimating, you can never have enough tricks and inside tips. With the current economic situation, Estimators are worth their weight in gold. We thought we would offer a few tips you might want to use with your Timberline Estimating Software.

These are some tips given to us by top-notch Timberline Estimating Consultant Barry Cassell. If you need more than a few tips – feel free to get in touch with Barry. He’s been known to build huge databases in a single day, help estimators do more with less and bring in double the business with the same amount of people. He’s also a really nice guy and pretty easy to talk to. You can find him here. You might even want to ask him about Timberline’s new Estimating Databases!

Barry Cassell/Ledgerwood Associates, Inc. Estimating Tips…
On the estimate spreadsheet: to review & modify pricing, labor & equipment productivity & hours, as well as unit costs, wbs assignments, item notes, crew & rate table assignments. It provides excellent “one-stop shopping” for any changes to an item, (except its Takeoff quantity & Takeoff unit)

Use the Detail Window…

Risk Management…
Labor is the biggest risk in any estimate. Design a Spreadsheet Layout that inccludes :

  • “Labor Productivity”, “Labor Productivity Unit/Unit” , “Labor Quantity”, “Labor Quantity Unit”, in 4 successive columns, side by side.
  • With this Layout, changing Productivity changes Labor Quantity, and vice versa. It’s an extremely intuitive “what-if” exercise to fine-tune Labor in the estimate.

July 29th, 2009 at 1:27 pm

SAVE BIG! SAGE TIMBERLINE ADD ONS&MODULES!

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If you’re looking for BIG savings on that extra license or module you’ve been needing check out the deals we have available RIGHT NOW!

Offers end July 31, 2009! For all the details go here

July 28th, 2009 at 12:56 pm

Posted in Special Offers

Stuck In Traffic? Construction The Cause? Smile! Here’s Why!

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The next time your progress is impeded by  a roadside construction site instead of getting grumpy for the delay, remind yourself that its your stimulus dollars at work.  Arizona is the leader in the country when it comes to getting those projects awarded and started on.

The Arizona Department of Transportation received high praise from Vice President Joe Biden for the speed with which it’s moving.  Right now there are a total of 48 stimulus projects to be worked on.  Nine of those have already begun in various parts of the state.

Take comfort Arizona drivers – you are not the only ones being slowed down by construction projects.  There are 2,000 stimulus jobs across the country currently underway with a total of 5.600 already approved.  That’s a lot of orange traffic cones to drive around.

To read more about how the construction is affecting other states go here.

July 22nd, 2009 at 2:33 pm

Arizona #2 When It Comes To Foreclosures…

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The number of people in danger of losing their homes continues to rise at an all too staggering rate. As the number of people losing their jobs continues to rise, the danger of them losing their homes also rises.

So far, 1.5 million homes have been foreclosed on in the first half of this year according to Realty Trac Inc, a company that lists foreclosures.

Foreclosures were up 33 percent this June compared to last year and up 5 percent from just last month. Number-wise 336,000 households received at least one foreclosure notice last month – that is 1 out of every 380 homes in this country. Last month alone, banks repossessed 79,000 homes.

On a state-by-state basis, Nevada had the nation’s highest foreclosure rate in the first half of the year, with more than 6 percent of all households receiving a filing.

Right now, Arizona is the second in the state when it comes to the highest foreclosures. Nevada is number 1.

Of course all of this leads to the question of its affect on the construction industry. There is no doubt going to be glut on the market of available homes – VASTLY reducing the number of homes that will need to be built. Not the kind of news anyone here wants to see.

For more on the amount of foreclosures go here.

July 20th, 2009 at 3:42 pm