Almost every remodeler I've run into dislikes estimating, especially if it takes time away from the family to make some demanding tire-kicker happy. What's needed are some simple tools that will get you to a selling price you can live with — fast — and leave the detailed take-off for after you actually have the job. To that end, Synapse Software has released three stand-alone Excel-based estimators that will let you set up separate templates for the various kinds of jobs you do and then blast out an estimate in a couple of minutes by opening the “conformed” template in Excel and changing a few variables such as quantities, prospect name, and square footage.
- Mini Estimate: This is a small-job estimator that allows you to quickly return a selling price for things like cabinet swap-outs and porch/deck work. You set up your various material, labor, subcontractor, equipment categories, and prices on one worksheet and add them to the proposal using drop-downs. $95 after a free 10-day trial.
- Room Estimate: Similar to the Mini Estimate, but instead of organizing a project by category or phase, it will print out a room-by-room summary; great for interior specialists or restoration contractors. $145 after a free 10-day trial.
- Quick Estimate: This estimator is geared toward new homes (using subs), but it would also work well for larger structural remodeling jobs such as room additions and bump-outs. Here, you set up five recent similar jobs from your own historical costs; the form averages them, allowing you to change markups, allowances, and cost factors (such as customer attitude and weather) on the fly. It also allows you to override your averaged costs with actual bids you might solicit from specific subs for a particular job. $145 after a free 10-day trial.
All three estimators include an instruction sheet, a proposal form, and other interesting tools that you can use after actually landing the project. Check them out at http://www.synapsesoftware.com/downloads.html. —Joe Stoddard is a process/technology consultant to the building industry. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.