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Estimator
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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I posted my first message like one month ago, and I was advised to make an intro of myself. But since I still don’t have the habit of check the forum I simply forgot about it.

I am an industrial engineer and was hired as the estimator for PCS 4 months ago. The company has been sticking their brush in the greater Seattle area for about 10 years. Most of their jobs are residential but we have done a few commercial jobs. I was required because the company has the intention to start working larger commercials projects with GC's. Therefore they needed someone to chase those projects, read plans, do some take-off, prepare the estimates and follow-up each case. I sign-up this forum because I want to share my estimating experience and see what other people are doing out there. I first want to tell you our background so you can understand how we've been evolving... I'll try to be brief.

On my first week my boss (owner) showed we where to find the jobs opportunities (Blue Book & Builders Exchange), how to organize the bidding documents, and how to perform the measurements using the blue prints from Adobe. We input the data into an Excel worksheet and we simply measured all SF on walls, ceilings, count the doors and mark miscellaneous items. At the end we had a total amount of SF that we used to calculate our materials requirements and labor. We only used one price for the paint, three different coverage rates (One for each hand, 3 hands most likely), one price for the labor and three different production rates.

We felt that we were not doing it right, numbers had to be more realistic, consider the material we were painting on, the type of paint, price and system required. Also measuring on Adobe PDF blue prints and taking those numbers to Excel was time consuming. So we decided to research and find a better solution.

I tried Vu360, OnScreen Take-Off, Planswift, and three other smalls estimating software and finally decided for Planswift because of their price and efficiency. We pay $80/month, is we decide to buy it $900. OnScreen Take-Off is way more expensive, something around $2,300 and does exactly the same or even less. Vu360 was not what we wanted.

Planswift is really neat, it might be complicated to explain if you have never tried it but I’ll do my best. You scale the drawing and measure like in any other take-off program then you assign an assembly to that measurement. An assembly is a group of parts; you can put as many parts as you want on an assembly. For example an assembly to paint a wall will have three parts: one part will be the primer, another part the paint and finally the labor. (This is not define by Planswift, this is the way we structure our estimates, you can do whatever you want hehe) Since we wanted to standardize our assemblies I found a relation between the MPI Systems and the assemblies on Planswift. I have created an assembly for every system on the MPI guide (Interior and Exterior) yeeeeeees It’s a lot of work! For example I have a assembly called “INT 9.2A Premium Grade Latex (over latex sealer)” so whenever I am reading the Specifications of the project and they require that system on a determinate surface, I simply drag the system to the measure taken. Was I clear? Every assembly has their own parameters, which are a mix of the manufacturer’s coverage rates, PDCA standards and our own historical data. Coverage and production rates are different when you paint on wood, gypsum, steel. It also depends on the type of paint and brand. I think our technique covers pretty well those aspects, what do you think? At the end when we have totalized ($) all the surfaces (materials & labor) we add a percentage for the sundries, overhead, profit and difficulty. The difficulty is very subjective and varies from project to project, depending on the weather conditions, accident risk, preparations times…bla bla bla

I just wanted to know if there are people applying a similar estimating technique, what are their results, what do they think about it?

PS. I believe that my post should be on the Estimating folder instead of the Introduction Section. I might post it over there as well.
 

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workin
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Welcome lut, these guys can be RUDE and CRUDE sorry bout that. Excellent post and thank you for sharing this information. I am doing alot of the same things you are doing except I'm doing it the hard way. I read the blue prints and determine the total sq ft. I then apply my (3) different production rates to determine labor hours. I then apply my (3) measures of coverage to determine materials (paint) needed. I factor in the price of the paint per job, I don't use the same price for paint. If that works for you, great! Unfortunately, I have found that every job requires a different product. If all my new construction jobs were all the same, one color jobs then yes one paint price would apply. My overhead costs were established at the beginning of the year and are revised as needed therefore my labor rate has already been determined. Production rate: I also use 3 as long as its new construction. I have formulated a spreadsheet in excel that I imput the data. I do not factor in level of difficulty but after reading your post I may be incorporating that into the mix. IMO, your system would be much quicker than mine but the end results are the same. Looks like you have your basis covered. I may look into Planswift to save myself some VALUABLE time.
 

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This is so "Unamerican", but I'll share anyways. I have a guy in Thailand (found him through elancer) to whom I just shoot off my prints in the evening and they're ready for me by morning's time. It took a while to train him, work out the kinks, and provide with him with a system that consistently yields the same results, but this setup works like magic for me at this time. He does it the same way 247 mentioned, the old school way.
 

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We felt that we were not doing it right, numbers had to be more realistic, consider the material we were painting on, the type of paint, price and system required. Also measuring on Adobe PDF blue prints and taking those numbers to Excel was time consuming.
And if you are working up a square footage estimate for an internet forum post, don't forget to factor font size into the equation, that mistake could be costly.

:whistling2:
 

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semi retired painter
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old school

I come across as an old time small time painter and I am, but there was a time when I did a few factories and small schools. We did read drawings, but didn't have computers. We read the prints did the multiplication, figured out the sq. footage and where it was, figured out the labor and the payscale, sometimes prevailing wage if it was public money and submitted the bid. Checked it twice or 3 times and submitted it. Usually did o.k. betcha it took a shorter time than yours did. Certainly no sky scrappers or convention centers but the occassional 15/20 grand worth of paint..1980's prices. Could ya do it that way? btw, welcome to the board, most of us aren't look at me types. pd
 

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Im not sure that lut is a "Look at me" type. He came to a discussion forum looking for discussion. Evidently this forum is an old school paint estimating type. The reason that software is incorporated into the mix is to not necessicarily speed up the estimating process per estimate, but overall, once you have a program set up to your prefrences it can speed up the process a lot. Like lut had mentioned, he has a formula that he made that he can just drag into his estimate and it changes everything automatically. It would save time on the front end of a paintjob.

Steve
 

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Flog a Mocker
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lut21 Welcome.

Are you saying you are using a combination of Planswift and Excel or did you convert to Planswift?
 

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This is so "Unamerican", but I'll share anyways. I have a guy in Thailand (found him through elancer) to whom I just shoot off my prints in the evening and they're ready for me by morning's time. It took a while to train him, work out the kinks, and provide with him with a system that consistently yields the same results, but this setup works like magic for me at this time. He does it the same way 247 mentioned, the old school way.
Hi Y, are you still working the Thailand estimator???
 
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