What Can an Estimator do to Prevent Disputed Issues?

Harold K. Lively

Complete takes in the communication of the dollars and a presentation that makes sure all the factors that could become issues are handled. A construction contractor must be prepared for changes and additions during the construction of every building or structure. At times, the changes and deviations can be due to some unanticipated reasons. However, the clear-cut reality is that you will have to deal with changes when you are in the construction business. It is therefore important for any construction contractor to be ready to face the disputes that would emerge. At times they can turn into serious legal matters and get difficult to handle. However, one can always try and prevent the disputes up front. It must be noted that in this technologically advanced age this job can also be done using construction estimating software. When software can carry out most tasks in almost every field, why should the construction industry be left behind? The software part will be discussed later. First, let’s have a glance on what an estimator needs to do to avoid disputes. The estimator has a lot of responsibility on his or her shoulders and has a solid role to play in avoiding disputes related to change orders. Here is what an estimator can do to prevent disputes on change orders: 1) Make the scope of work clear The project’s scope of work has to be put into words clearly and terms that might result in a dispute later have to be addressed up front. This will ensure that things run in a seamless manner without any friction between the property owner and contractor. When things are kept crystal clear right from the start, there is less chance of a dispute between the two parties. It is always better to have everything mentioned in detail to avoid problems later on. 2) Have a detailed list of costs involved The contract must have a complete list of the cost of labor, overheads and mark up rates that will be the base for calculating the cost of the changes. Disputes crop up mostly due to the cost of change. When the cost of everything is mentioned clearly in the contract, there is a reduction in the chances of a dispute arising because of the cost of the change order. 3) Add more details in the design of the project When you don’t add enough details of materials in the project’s design it is more likely that there will be change orders to make up for the gap. For instance, if you don’t include a material required to build the boundary wall, there will be a change order to fulfill that need. As an estimator, such change orders can be avoided if you specify all the details in the project design clearly. In order to make the whole task accurate, you can use a reliable construction estimating software. 4) Make use of recognized pricing services When you are using material and equipment pricing services, make sure that you are using the ones that are well-recognized and accepted nationally. Similarly, you need to use labor units that are recognized by the industry. Following standards is a must and has to be given enough emphasis. Make use of technology As a contractor, it would be great to make use of software for the purpose of construction estimation. It should make your life easier. An ideal construction estimating softwareis one that works efficiently and is easy to use. You need to use software that has all the breakdowns for labor, materials, subcontract and equipment. Plus, it should provide a base for pricing. What all should a construction estimating softwaredo for you? 1. The software should come with up-to-date cost databases. a. If the contractor is doing well there will be multiple estimates to do at a time. Being able to create the estimate from an accurate database rather than waiting to get the bids from subs and vendors will allow the contractor to not loose opportunities. Accuracy of the costs in the database is critical. 2. It should create the scope of work. a. Since there is always boiler plate, there should be a library for verbiage to handle standard communication. 3. Bid management makes the process easily workable without losing things a. It must help with generating requests for quotation. Being able to automate the creation and distribution will save much time. b. It should generate purchase orders based on responses to the distributed requests for quotation. c. Being able to track totals and balances by Vendor, Job or Customer or any other combination at any time gives you a better picture of your current condition 4. After the bids arrive, the ideal ones should get added to the final copy of the construction estimate upon the click of the mouse. 5. There should be scope for tracking the construction project that would also help with billing. 6. It must be able to handle change requests and change orders 7. It should allow you to schedule tasks. 8. Billing through the software or interfacing with common accounting systems is necessary 9. It should generate reports to help you compare the real costs with the estimate during the process of construction. a. Knowing where the project stands financially as well as in the schedule are critical 10. The software should let you save a template to be used in future projects. This would save a lot of time and effort. If a construction estimating software can do the above, it would make the life of every construction contractor easy. When you have a human carrying out all the tasks, there is always a risk of an error but with software doing the job for you, things can look more organized. However, we cannot say that there is no need for a human estimator. There are certain things that a person will do better than software and thus it is not right to rule out the human connection completely. You can rely on the software but it is better to have a qualified person to have a look at things from time to time. In short, the software will work well when it is used to support the job of construction estimating that is supervised by a human. When the estimation is done with the software, the work will be more organized and that would minimize the chances of a change order being raised. This ultimately prevents a dispute between the property owner and the construction contractor. So, with the help of a construction estimating software, you can make your job easy and at the same time reduce disputes in the long run.

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