Louis Krokover has used an automated estimating system for years, but it wasn’t until the recent recession and housing crunch that the program truly proved its worth. As president of NewDay Development, in Encino, Calif., Krokover says he’s turning to Xactimate, a claims estimating software solution from Xactware, more than ever these days.

The software, whose competitors include Bid4Build, ProContractorMX, and Goldenseal, allows Krokover to pull up the latest cost values (updated monthly) for any state, plus Canada. It has helped his company deal with the fluctuating values in California’s housing and construction markets. When a client hands over a set of plans developed by an architect (or offers an idea of what they want to do), for example, Krokover can input the dimensions into the estimating program and come up with an accurate cost for the finished product.

Project Value Updates

And because deals are taking longer to close these days, Krokover can revisit those estimates later, update them with the program’s most recent pricing (released monthly), and inform clients of the revised cost. Sometimes just knowing that prices are creeping up can help push clients into signing a contract.

“If a project was $100,000 three months ago, and now it’s up to $110,000, the client will take notice and possibly take action to get the job done,” says Krokover, who usually calls on those potential customers monthly after updating their project values. He uses the program’s estimates — which he says are always within 2% (plus or minus) of being accurate — as baseline benchmarks when quoting jobs.

The estimating program has paid for itself many times over, and Krokover also uses it to come up with a final contract price once the job is signed. “In this economy, if I quote someone $100,000 and my suppliers tell me it’s actually a $130,000 job, I can’t go back and tell my clients that I need $30,000 more,” Krokover says. “I also can’t afford to eat $30,000. The automated program ensures that we’re always within 2%,” Krokover says.

—Bridget McCrea is a freelance writer in Dunedin, Fla.