Construction Estimation

INTRO

Once you have set up your budget, your costbook, and become familiar with the basics of creating accounts and opportunities, you are ready to begin building estimates. Kits are not required to build a construction-style estimate, but they will make the process a whole lot easier if you are able to put some together. If you would like to know more, check out our guide on how to build kits.

CREATING AN ESTIMATE #

There are three places from which you are able to create a construction estimate – from the Construction Estimates tab of a customer account, from the Construction Estimates tab of an opportunity, or from the Sales > Construction Estimates menu. Before you are able to create an estimate, you must have both an account and an opportunity in place. If you create a new estimate from the Construction Estimates menu, then you will be prompted to select an opportunity to associate the new estimate with. If one does not exist, you can simply create it right from the opportunity selection screen, set the new opportunity to an “estimating” sales phase, and then hit “Save & Create Construction Estimate”. Make sure you have the appropriate Division selected on the opportunity before creating your new estimate.

Once you have your estimate tied to an opportunity, you will be prompted to select an estimate template. You will not have any estimate templates on a brand new site, so simply select “Blank Estimate” if you have not yet created any templates. To create an estimate template, simply build an estimate that contains all the items you would like to include in the template and then select Actions > Save As Template.

STANDARD WORKFLOW OVERVIEW #

  • Start new estimate – blank or from template.
  • Make sure estimate name and employee assignments are correct.
  • Record notes if desired.
  • Build the estimate by adding items. Utilize kits, work areas, and general conditions to assist with speed, accuracy, and organization.
    • You will frequently be prompted to recalculate your general conditions whether you are using them or not. When prompted, select yes or no as appropriate. If you have not set up general conditions, it does not matter if you choose yes or no.
  • Define payment structure for project.
  • Print out proposal and submit to client.
  • Mark estimate as won or lost based on outcome.

GENERAL INFO TAB #

Upon opening a brand new estimate, the first thing you should do is review the general info tab and see if any information should be updated. First, note the estimate name. The estimate name will have the same name as the opportunity by default. You can change this name to something else if you want, keeping in mind that you are able to display the estimate name on the proposal that you print out and send to the client.

Next, look through the rest of the items on the page. The ones on the left do not require any action but are simply for your reference. Under the estimate name, you will see the automatically generated estimate number, which is a unique number that can be used to identify an estimate if you have multiple estimates with similar names. This number is automatically generated based one the estimate number settings found within the Division. Note the opportunity type and division, both of which were set up on the opportunity. The estimate status will be Open on a brand new estimate, and will automatically be set to Closed once you mark it as Won or Lost. The “Estimate is Active” checkbox is used by Manage360 to distinguish archived (old version) estimates from the most recent version of those estimates. When you create a revision of an estimate, the previous version will automatically be archived, which simply means that it is not identified as the most current version. You can still go back and Win an archived estimate. In general, this checkbox should be left alone.

On the right side of the General Info tab, you will see the Estimate Date (defaults to the date you created the estimate – you can change it if you want) and the Expiry Date. The expiry date is automatically calculated based on your Division Settings, but you are free to change it if you like. You have the option of displaying the estimate expiry date on the proposal. “Days to Expiration” can be referenced by the estimator to identify when the estimate has been sitting around for too long. It is good practice to close off any old, unnecessary estimates to prevent your list of estimates from getting cluttered.

Below the expiry date, you will see three available roles: Salesperson, Designer, and Estimator. Salesperson will be automatically assigned based on the salesperson that was assigned to the opportunity, but you can change it if you like. Designer and Estimator are optional roles, but if you assign them then you will be able to do things like run reports which can show you how accurate certain estimators or designers are.

NOTES TAB #

The notes tab has four different sections for notes which will display their contents in different places.

The Opportunity Notes area simply takes the notes that were on the opportunity and displays them here, so that the estimate can reference any notes that were taken on the opportunity before the estimate was created.

Proposal Notes are displayed near the top of the proposal, under the estimate name and proposal header and above the estimate contents. Note that this is a rich text field, so you can format how you would like these notes to be displayed before the proposal is generated.

Crew Instructions will be displayed on the timesheet for the crew to see, so any special instructions related to the work the crew is required to perform should be entered here. You can edit these instructions at any time, and this notes area will be available later on when you have won the estimate and created a job. These notes will be visible on both the paper timesheets and on the timesheets found in the mobile app.

Private notes do not display anywhere else in Manage360 except for right here. This area is for the estimator to write down any notes they would like to reference later, and are usually related specifically to the estimate you are working on.

ITEMS TAB #

This is the main tab of the estimate and where most of the work will take place.

In this section, we will learn how to add items to an estimate an organize them in an effective manner that makes sense to the estimator, to the crews keeping track of all the work on their daily timesheets, and to the client when they look at the proposal.

ADD ITEMS #

On a brand new estimate, the items tab will initially be empty until you start adding items to it, unless you have created the estimate from a template. Click on the Add Items button to begin the process of selecting items from your costbook to bring on to the estimate.

#

The add items dialogue – use this to browse your costbook for items to add to the estimate

The window that pops up will allow you to browse through your costbook by navigating through the various sections, finding the item(s) you are looking for, and then selecting them so they can be added to the estimate. To find a specific item, first pick the type of item you are looking for by using the navigation tabs at the top of the window and then use the search or filtering options depending on what is available. The plants and materials sections have more categories to filter by, so you can filter down to a specific item category, division, or supplier. Plants and materials also have a “favourites” list which will filter down to only the items you have added to your favourites. To add an item to your favourites, find that plant or material in the costbook and then select the “is favourite” checkbox on the item and save.

A closer look at the add items dialogue

Once you have found the item you are looking for, you can click on it to select it. You will then be prompted to specify how many units of the item you want to bring in. For non-unit pricing items, you will be prompted the option to specify the cost of the item, and fixed price items will additionally present you with the option to adjust the price. The options you are presented with will depend on the type of item you have selected, and how that item was set up. After choosing an item to add to the estimate, you will then need to specify where on the estimate this item will go. To organize our estimates, we have two tools at our disposal – Work Areas and Kits.

You can choose where to place the item on the estimate as well as edit the item details before adding it to the estimate

Note – clicking on the edit button next to a costbook item will open a window which allows you to permanently edit the costbook item directly. If you want to change any of the item settings temporarily (like cost, price, item name), you can edit the item directly on the estimate while you add the item or after the item has been added to the estimate. Only use the “edit” button if you want to make a change to how the item is set up in the costbook.

WORK AREAS #

Use work areas to break your estimate down into distinct categories or phases. Typical examples of work areas include things like: Front Yard, Back Yard, Garden Bed, Planting, Patio, Pergola, Water Feature, Phase I, Phase II, etc. The purpose of a work area is ultimately to contain related items for a phase or activity on a job and set them apart from the requirements of a separate work area. Work areas can be helpful from the perspective of the estimator so that these different categories are held as distinct and separate – can be helpful for the crews when they are out in the field, so they know what the requirements and allocated time/materials/equipment breakdown is for the activity/work area they are working on – and can also be helpful from the perspective of the client, as their proposal will be broken down into work areas. This allows you to create a proposal which will list the name of each work area along with a nice description of what the work involves, and then presents the client with a pricing breakdown by work area. The client will then have an idea of how much their new patio costs, how much they are paying for the new plants in their garden, and so on.

When adding an item to a brand new estimate, the only work area available will be labeled “Default” until you create some new work areas (a new estimate may have work areas if you have created the estimate from a saved template). If you are using the default work area, the assumption is that you will not be creating any additional work areas. The default work area is effectively a work area with no name, so instead of separating the estimate into distinct areas like “Front Garden” and “Front Walkway”, you will just be adding items to the estimate without breaking them into sections. This is fine if the job you are doing is very simple and does not have several distinct areas/activities. However, you will likely be using work areas most of the time. If you add items to the “Default” work area, you will have the option of renaming the default work area to something else later. If you would like to use a named work area instead, click on the + button next to the “Work Area” box.

Items on an estimate can be separated by work area. Determine which work area the item belongs to when you add the item to the estimate

You will be prompted to enter a name and notes for this work area. There is also a checkbox called “include in general conditions” – see our section on General Conditions for more information on how this works. This checkbox is generally left on. The work area notes allow you to create a detailed description of the work area, which can be used to communicate to the customer what exactly it is that they are paying for in that work area (as opposed to giving them an itemized list of plants/materials/equipment used). Good work area descriptions make for very effective proposals. These work area notes can also be used to communicate the various tasks to the crew – so these notes can be for the customer, for the crew, or for both depending on how you write them. You can change the work area name and enter notes later on, so don’t worry about getting an amazing description of the work area right away. Once you are satisfied with your work area, hit the Save button to move on.

See the following picture get a sense of what an estimate with multiple work areas looks like. Note that I have left the first two work areas collapsed, and only expanded the final work area. Expanding/collapsing work areas allows you to easily navigate through a very large estimate.

Example of an estimate with multiple work areas and items #

KITS #

This section will cover kits specifically with respect to their behaviour on an estimate. For information on what kits are and how to build them, please see this section on creating kits.

When you add a kit to an estimate, you will generally be taking one of your premade costbook kits and then adding it to a work area. A work area may then consist of several kits along with your costbook items (items which have been added to a work area without being separated into a specific kit) and your general conditions.

Adding a premade costbook kit to an estimate is simple: simply browse through your kits in the “Add Items to Estimate” window and select the one you are looking for. You will be prompted with how many units of the kit you would like to add along with where on the estimate (which work area) you would like the kit to go. If your kit has lead items, you will also be prompted to select your desired lead item (e.g. type of paving stone, type of mulch, etc.). You can change your selected lead item later by hitting the edit icon that appears when you hover your cursor over the kit name.

You can also edit a kit after it has been added to the estimate. You can delete individual items within the kit if they are not needed by hovering your mouse over the item you wish to delete and selecting the X button that appears to the left of the item name. You can edit the costs and quantities of individual items within the kit. You can even add additional items into the kit by choosing the “kit” option under the advanced drop-down list that appears when you add an item to an estimate.

This is the default place for an item to go. If you are adding an item to an estimate that does not belong to a specific kit, then it will be placed under a subsection within the selected work area called “Costbook Items”. Use this kit if the selected item does not need to be added to one of the kits already on the estimate.

ADD A NEW KIT #

The + button to the right of the kit drop down list allows you to create a new kit within the selected work area for the purpose of organizing the work area. It is helpful if you think of kits as subsections of a work area. For example, you can have a Front Yard Work Area with a Mulching Kit in it. Let’s say that the mulching kit was a premade costbook kit, meaning that it was made outside of the estimate and that the kit has a production rate that associates a certain amount of mulch and labor to the quantity of the kit. You now want to add some plants and plant installation labor to the Front Yard Work Area. You have a few options for where to put these items – you could place them in the Mulching Kit, but that wouldn’t make much sense. You could place it under the Costbook Items kit, which would make sense, but maybe you want to be a little more specific with how you organize the work area, and would like to keep the plants and planting labor separate from everything else in the work area. You can use the + button to add an empty kit to the work area with a name of your choice. In this case, it might make sense to create a “Planting” kit which will contain all of the plants and all of the plant installation labor for the front yard. Doing this will create the kit only on this one estimate, and not save the kit to your costbook. It is purely for the sake of organizing your estimate with more detail.

To create a new kit on the estimate, select the + button, enter your desire name, and then save. Be sure to select the kit from the drop down list after you create it to ensure that the item is added to the correct area. You can then add additional items to this kit if you like.

Aside from organizing your work area, this feature can be used to present the total price of a group of items. For example, if we choose to display kit names and kit prices on our proposal, the customer will see the Planting Kit and the total price of all items within that kit.

ADD AS KIT #

This is a shortcut to the “Add a New Kit” process outlined above. When selected, it will automatically create a new kit on your estimate with the same name as the item you created the kit from. Just as with other kits, you can rename and add/edit/remove items from it later.

OTHER OPTIONS #
  • Hrs/Plant: only shown on plants, the number filled out depends on the size of the plant selected. You can set up production rates for your various plant sizes from Costbook > Plant Sizes.
  • Hours Per Unit: this will only show up on materials which have production labor assigned to them. You can assign production labor to a material by going to the item you want to edit in the costbook and filling out the Production Labor section on the detail tab of the item.
  • Labor Rate: the rate at which the labor brought in from Hrs/Plant will be billed.
  • Supplier: change the listed supplier. Changing the supplier will not automatically change the cost – if you have the same item at different costs from two or more different suppliers, you will need to create separate/duplicate listings in the costbook for these items.
  • Cost: adjust the cost from the default.
  • Price: if using a fixed price item, you will be able to adjust the price as well. You can mark items as fixed price by opening the desired item from the costbook and selecting the fixed price checkbox next to the price of the item.

GENERAL CONDITIONS #

Once you have all the basic components of the estimate added you are able to add the general conditions. General conditions are typically things such as travel time, load and unload, daily cleanup, supervision, job offices or dumpsters, and other general job equipment which are not directly added to the estimate but which can be automatically added to your estimate based on the number of days the job will take and the number of workers per crew.  Equipment like trucks and bobcats can also be added to the estimate automatically based on the number of days the job will take.  These general conditions can then be spread across the estimate automatically so they are evenly distributed across your different work areas. Adding General Conditions to an estimate can be done through the Add General Conditions button in the Estimate Items screen or when you save the estimate. As long as the Costbook items have setup to be included in your list of General Conditions, you will see them in the Add/Edit General Conditions screen, if you have items that are not setup yet, you can set them up by following the instructions in the Setup item as General Condition section in the Costbook.

For more info on general conditions, see this video.

Adding General Conditions to an estimate can be done by the Add General Conditions Button or clicking the Save or Save and Close button, each are outlined below:

Adding General Conditions by the Add General Conditions Button

  1. While in the Estimate Item Area, click the Add General Conditions button to change or add the items to this estimate.

  1. Under the Estimate SettingsSection, you can edit the following:
  • Total Working Hours Per Day: These can be preset in the Default Working Hours Per Dayin the Division Settings section.  This represents the total maximum hours one worker will generally work in one day eg. 9 hours per day. Total working hours per day can be edit for this estimate if necessary.
  • Crew Size: You can change this or use the preset value that was added in the Crew Sizein the Division Settings section
  • Total Days: The system will calculate the total days that the job will take to complete. Any per day general conditions will be multiplied by the total days and crew size as necessary.

Add General Condition: If you need to recover the cost of an item for this one estimate, click Add General Condition button, a window will appear where you can choose to add the item:

The following are not editable:

  • Total Estimate Hours: This number comes from the total number of hours on the Estimate
  • Remaining Hours Per Day: This number is calculated based on Working Hours minus Total General Condition hours required for this estimate
  1. Under the General ConditionsSection, you can edit or adjust the following:
  • Per Dayamounts if you require more or less of the Per Day General Condition Item for this estimate
  • Total amounts if you require more or less of the Per Estimate General Condition Item for this estimate

Unit Cost can be adjusted if you need to change the Cost of the General Condition Item for this estimate

  1. When you are finished editing your General Conditions, click Update Estimate or Cancel to discard the addition of General Conditions

The General Conditions will be distributed proportionally across all Work Areas according to their price. Any Work areas that have the “include in general conditions” setting unchecked will be ignored.

Adding General Conditions by clicking the Save or Save and Close button

General Conditions can be added to an estimate after creating or editing your estimate and you click Save and Close or Save. The below will occur once you click Save or Save and Close:

  1. While in the Estimate Item Area, click Save or Save and Close

  1. Click Yes or No on the prompt whether you would like to Recalculate your General Conditions:

I

If you choose Yes, then the General Condition will be spread across the Work Area’s which have been Included in General Condition checked and based on the default General Condition Settings:

If you choose No, the General Condition will not be spread across the Work Area’s and you will be informed whenever you open this estimate:

Edit General Conditions

If you have already added General Conditions to your estimate and you would like to verify and adjust the General Conditions, please follow the below steps:

  1. While in the Estimate Items screen click on the Edit General Conditions button:

  1. These steps/screens are the same as Step 2 in the Adding General Conditions by the Add General Conditions Buttonsection above.

PAYMENT OPTIONS #

When editing payment options for an estimate there are three options available to choose from. These can be selected at the time that you are in the Estimate.

Manual Billing

If you select this option there will not be any automatic billing and you will have to create each invoice manually.

Milestone Billing

If you select milestone billing for your estimate you can create invoices based on  milestones that are achieved. You can preset milestones in the Settings tab Payment Schedules section.

  1. Select a Payment Schedulefrom the drop down list
  2. Name: The name will automatically be entered according to the Payment Schedule, but you can edit it.
  3. Percentage: The percent will automatically be set according to the Payment Schedule, but you can edit it. If you change this, then the amounts and taxes will automatically recalculate. The percentages can be edited but will have to add up to 100% in order to be correct and saved. If the totals do not add up to 100% the total of the percentage will show up in red. To edit the percentage click inside the percentage box and enter the new percent amount.

Once this is edited and the percentages add up to 100% you can save the changes.

  1. Amount: The amount will calculate automatically, but you can change this. If you change this, then Percentage will automatically change, Be sure the amount equals your estimate total before saving or your amount, tax and totals will turn red and you will not be able to save your estimate until this is corrected.
  2. Tax: The tax will calculate automatically, but you can change this, if necessary.  Once you change this the tax amount will turn red until the value equals the total tax amount as calculated on the estimate.
  3. Deleting an Installment: If you want to delete a payment and combine an installment you can delete one of the installments by clicking on the X icon by the row you wish to remove.
  4. Add a Payment:  If you want to add another payment option, you can click +Add Payment.  Be sure the totals 100% of your estimate before saving or your amount, tax and totals will turn red and you will not be able to save your estimate until this is corrected.
  5. Click Save.

Percentage of Completion

If you select this option, the Invoices will be based on the percentage completion of the job. This can be broken down by work area or across the whole job. This section can be modified after the Job has been created or the estimate has been won.

ACTIONS MENU #

  1. Import – After you are done labeling your DS|Design drawing, you can export the file to DMX format so that you can create an estimate based on your labeled drawing. For detailed instructions, see Import from the DMX section.
  2. View Proposal– Once you are ready to present the estimate to your customer, you can show them the Estimate Proposal. For detailed instructions, see the View Proposal section
  3. Reports– After you are done with the estimate, you can view, export or print the following Reports: Estimate Analysis, Material list or Work Order.  For detailed instructions, see the Reports from Estimate section
  4. Create New Version– If another version of the estimate needs to be created so that you can make modifications to the estimate but still preserve the original, you can do this from the Actions menu.  For detailed instructions, see the Create New Version section
  5. Delete Estimate– If an estimate is no longer needed, you can easily delete it through the Estimates Actions Menu.  For detailed instructions, see the Delete an Estimate section
  6. Save As Template– If you would like to start a new estimate based on an existing estimate, you can do this by saving it as a template. For detailed instructions, see the Save as Template section
  7. Refresh Estimate– If changes were made to any items in the Costbook and you want to be sure you have the latest costs, overhead, profit or taxes then you should refresh the estimate.  For detailed instructions, see the Refresh Estimate section
  8. Estimate Won– Once the customer approves the estimate, the next step would be to Win the Estimate. For detailed instructions, see the Estimate Won section