Advancing Preconstruction: Estimating with Predictive Cost Data

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By Bradi Henao, Strategic Partner Network Marketing Manager at Gordian

This year’s Advancing Preconstruction & Estimating brought together contractors, clients and designers to discover best practices and tools for the entire preconstruction lifecycle, from initial project planning through operations handover. The sessions all shared a major underlying theme: streamlining operations to increase efficiency, collaboration and visibility for optimal success.

Gordian at Advancing Preconstruction and Estimating 2019

Day One: Conceptual Estimating

The Conceptual Estimating Track was Gordian’s primary focus of day one, where the majority of the attendees leverage RSMeans data, to some capacity. There was a lot of talk about the Three C’s: collaboration, consistency and confidence. Vice President and Director of Preconstruction Services at Sellen Construction, Chris Angus, touched on all Three C’s in his presentation, “Filling in the Gaps: How Can You Better Estimate Undefined Portions of Design.” His core message indicated that the sources of these gaps are attributed to communication, competency, confidence and technology. He demonstrated how identifying common gaps early on increases the overall accuracy of each construction estimate.

Consistency was another major topic in this track and multiple presenters touched on its importance, including Allan LaSala of The Howard Hughes Corp, Walt Davis of Sage and Nick Papadopoulos of EOS Group. Leveraging technology to support standardized processes across departments encourages aligned consistent workflows that are integrated and streamlined across multiple platforms. Many of Gordian’s RSMeans data partners were among the presenters that spoke during this track. They reiterated that the key to preconstruction success is the combination of robust estimating platforms with accurate, reliable cost data.

Magnus from Sigma gives a demo for RSMeans data at Advancing Preconstruction and Estimating

We also took the opportunity to demonstrate the power of our cost estimating software integration with Sigma Estimates during the “Partner In-Booth Spotlight” with Magnus Therkildsen, Co-founder of Sigma. Users gain direct access to cost and estimation tools through all stages of the project lifecycle by leveraging Sigma with RSMeans data through live integration with Autodesk REVIT. The platform provided by the three systems brings together design, planning and finance in real time, granting users a fast, data-driven, user-friendly experience, grounded by the familiarity of spreadsheets.

Day Two: Cost Forecasting and Bidding

On the second day, Gordian sponsored and chaired the Cost Forecasting and Bidding track and presented on “Predictive Analytics: The Future of Cost Forecasting.” Forecasting construction costs has always been a challenge due to material price volatility, the cyclical nature of the construction market and geographic differences in material and labor costs. Traditionally, estimates have leveraged data from past projects and currently available prices before being adjusted for future construction, using a cushion or rule of thumb. Today, with improved data analysis techniques such as data mining, price indexes have evolved. And thanks to new approaches through data science, data modeling and algorithms have evolved to incorporate machine learning that leverages external factors and predictive insight which was previously unattainable.

Solving the Problem with Predictive Cost Data

As data and technology continue to evolve, it is becoming more apparent that historical data and old tools are no longer sufficient to accurately project costs and estimate into the future-when projects are actually breaking ground. By analyzing cost trends and using data mining techniques, data science allows estimators and contractors to appropriately forecast construction costs despite the industry’s age-old challenges.

Planning tomorrow’s projects with yesterday’s data—this is the way it has always been. Thanks to predictive cost data, cost accuracy is no longer limited to the present. RSMeans Data Online uses a true predictive multivariate database including individual material, labor and equipment data. Statistical tests show these predictive costs within three percent of published costs up to three years in the future. This means owners, architects, engineers and other construction professionals can confidently predict future costs by applying a predictive cost dataset to conceptual estimating.

The Future: Advancing Preconstruction with Predictive Cost Data

Ultimately, the core value of using accurate predictive cost data at the material, labor and equipment level is the unprecedented ability construction professionals have to understand future costs of projects. We would encourage you to dive deeper into Gordian’s recently launched predictive construction cost data and learn the benefits of the enhanced capabilities.

Stay up-to-date with the ever-evolving market, focus on what you do best and have confidence in your estimates by using data and technology to streamline operations and increase efficiency, collaboration and visibility for optimal success. It’s imperative.

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