Define extras in estimating for accuracy and to increase profitability

We have observed people estimating roofing for over 30 years and have learned a great deal along the way, most of what we have learned has been useful.

One of the problems that I have noticed is how easy it is for an estimator to miss many small details in their quotation and in some cases, not even notice that they have been missed.  Often the items missed completely absorb any margin on the job and in the worst case, contribute to a loss on the job.  Many estimators revert to a spreadsheet checklist to assist with this because they do not know how or are simply not aware of the tools in AppliCad’s software to help solve this problem, such as the Define Extras function.

There are as many easily missed items as there are roofing projects, but consider things like the different options for fall protection, different bush fire/wild fire ratings, specialised trim at box gutters and parapets, site preparation or site cleanup, bin hire, power poles and connections, insurance – labour and materials for any of these items can ‘suck up’ any and often, all of your profit.   Many of these things are not even dependent on the size of a job, but simply required to complete the job. 

Another group of items that chew up your profit is the need for specific accessories that, if not ordered and delivered at the start of a job can hold up progress and cause expensive delays that flow on to other jobs.

To assist the estimator counter these and other potential ‘profit sucking’ problems, the AppliCad software can take care of all these things either as a compulsory extra item, an accessory to a primary component or as an optional item that the estimator is prompted for.  Once setup, the process virtually eliminates losses from these issues for good.   It makes your estimator look like a hero and ensures all jobs are profitable.

Use all the tools available

The first thing to look at are a group of items that are accessories to panels and flashing/trim.  The software will automatically calculate the correct quantity based on how they are fabricated and installed.  This can get confusing especially for manufactured mitre corners, or clips and brackets – as these items might be different for various combinations of trim or different roof geometry.  For example fascia with gutter, fascia without gutter or fascia merging with a rake/gable or simple fascia only along an eave.

Defining these accessory items can be tedious, but you do this once and the benefits flow on with every job you complete.  The reason this is a worthwhile undertaking is that once you have them setup, you create an accurate 3D model of your roof and check that it is correct, then you have verifiable accuracy in the take-off of every clip, screw and tube of sealant that completes a roofing take-off – labour and materials!

Define extras

The second part of this profit saving setup is using what we refer to as Extras.  ‘Extras’ can be anything that goes into a job, labour or material, part of the roof or simply part of the job. 

They can be compulsory extra items or optional extra items that you are prompted to include, or simply exist in our list of items that we add as needed and quantified using various options – Always include, Select from a list or be Prompted to include.

Screenshot of How to Define Extras in AppliCad Roof Wizard

The sort of things that you might include as an Extra item range from various types of crane hire, bin hire, compliance paperwork, travel time/mileage, generators, site inspections, power poles or even leaf guard.

We have seen some estimators include various types of extra items in their list as a ‘compulsory item’ with zero value.  Yes zero, then it is in the list and serves as a prompt when preparing the quotation and simply add a quantity.  The software has a switch that allows you to turn off zero quantity items when the quotation is printed, thus ensuring that you never forget anything that might comprise the detailed and thorough client proposal.

Avoid the costly ‘missed’ items

Thinking about these things ahead of time, adding them to your list of extra items helps you avoid costly errors that cripple your profit and your reputation with clients and sub-contractors.  This is not necessarily something that has to be built up all at once.  You should be constantly reviewing your jobs won and jobs lost, and also review each job on completion.   Take note of the things that ‘bit’ you and update the list. 

Do the best job you can for yourself and your customer by investing a bit of time in the systems that help you.  It is a very good investment for the long term and means that everyone in your team gets the benefit of the combined experience of you and your field crews. 

You can count on a profitable job because you accounted for everything at the estimation/quoting stage.  AppliCad software helps you make more money.

Ray Smith,
Managing Director
AppliCad Software