Estimating

You can download this guide for offline use here.

 

Description: C:\Temp\logo.jpg

ESTIMATING GUIDE

ESTIMATING GUIDE

Revision 2 – October 2019

 

Contents

 

1. Contents

2. Terms Used in this Guide

3. Overview

3.1 About Constructor

4. Naming Conventions

4.1 ID’s

4.2 Descriptions

5. Estimating

5.1 Creating a Simple BOQ

5.2 Creating an Estimating Budget

5.3 Creating BOQ’s for Standard Designs

5.4 Creating a Client

5.5 Creating a Project

5.5.1 Zones

5.5.2 Project Statuses

5.5.3 Site Addresses Tab

5.5.4 Product Tab

5.5.5 Setting up Preferred Suppliers

5.5.6 Copy a BOQ

5.6 Creating a Supplier/Trade

5.7 Components

5.7.1 Creating a Component

5.7.2 Component Pricing

5.7.3 Copying a Component

5.7.4 Bulk Editing of Components

5.8 Budgeting and Cost Centres

5.8.1 Cost Centres

5.8.2 Budgets

5.9 Importing and Editing Images

5.10 Estimating Menu

5.10.1 Layers and Sub Layers

5.11 Formulas

5.11.1 Module Formula

5.11.2 Generic Formula

5.11.3 Creating Formula from the Main Menu

5.11.4 Creating Formula from the Estimating Model

5.11.5 Refreshing Components in the Estimate

5.11.6 Substitution / Replacement of Components

5.12 Take Off

5.12.1 Scaling Image

5.12.2 Preparing the Take Off

5.12.3 Generating the Bill of Quantities (BOQ)

5.13 Ordering

5.13.1 Using the Purchase Order Generator.

5.13.2 Deleting, Invoicing, Viewing and Completing Orders

 

Terms Used in this Guide

In ensuring Constructor is as streamlined as possible, certain terms have been defined and are uniformly used throughout the program. Each term will be explored in detail in this Estimating guide. Below is a quick Summary to help get familiar with them.

TIP: The terms listed here are written with a capital letter and in Bold throughout this guide, so you can refer back to this glossary if you are unsure of what the term means.

Company: Refers to your Company. This is opposed to Clients and Suppliers/Trades.
Clients: In Constructor, Clients are people or entities that employ you to build. Clients are a part of the Accounts Receivable section of Constructor.
Suppliers/Trades: Suppliers/Trades refers to any person or entity that provides your Company with goods or services. Suppliers/Trades are a part of Accounts Payable.
Employee: An Employee refers to someone employed by your Company.
Claim: Claims are Accounts Receivable invoices that are sent to Clients in order to Claim money owing to you.
Invoice: Invoice in Constructor refers to an Accounts Payable Invoice that you would send to your Suppliers/Trades.
User: A User is someone from your Company who uses Constructor.
Role: Role refers to the security permissions a User has in Constructor, relating to the work they perform.
Filter: A Filter is a keyword or value used to refine lists of information. Filtering refers to the process of applying a Filter.
Project: A Project refers to the job that a Client has employed you to do.
Bill Of Quantities: A Bill of Quantities (BOQ) is a list of costs associated with your Project; materials, labour and other services.
Product: A Product is the information that relates to an estimate / BOQ. A standard Product is one that can be used on multiple projects that share the same plans. Products are the houses (or buildings) that you sell.
Component: A Component in Constructor represents either materials or labour.
Formula: Formulas are collections of Components that together provide a per unit cost estimate for materials and labour.
Screen: A Screen is a sub-window within the Constructor window. They can be resized, moved around and closed in the same manner that you would with any other program.
Grid: The Grid refers to the table of Entries on a Screen made up of rows and columns.
Entry: An Entry refers to a row within the Grid. Each Entry represents a different item.
Field: Fields are where you enter your data, an Entry is made up of different Fields.
Summary: A Summary is a more detailed output of the selected Entry or open Screen. Entries can have multiple Summary Tabs, each detailing a particular category of that Entry. These categories are used as the tab name for the Summary.
Report: A Report in Constructor is a document generated from information stored in Constructor.

Server: Machine on which the Constructor database is installed.

Overview

 

About Constructor

Constructor is a fully integrated Sales, Estimating, Accounting, Payroll and Document Management software package for the construction industry. Constructor Management Software was developed by builders to work for the builders the way builders work. The program flows logically from step to step following the building process. As a builder, you will find it intuitive to use because it works the way you do.

Primarily it is used by builders in the construction industry who agree with our philosophy that:

“Major business efficiencies can only be found by implementing a software system that integrates all aspects of a business into a single cohesive database application.”

The Constructor Management Software completely streamlines the entire business work flow for builders, providing Estimating tools that allow accurate Estimates to be built quickly, using your own predefined Formulas and Components – to build your Bill of Quantities (BOQ).

NAMING CONVENTIONS

It is strongly recommended that you establish a Naming Convention for the ID and Description fields when creating new Projects, BOQ’s, Components, Formulas, Clients and Supplier/Trades. This will make finding your information quicker and easier.

ID’s

One way to Filter any Grid of information is by using the ID column. This column only contains unique values, and so if you Filter a Grid by an ID it will return the exact Entry you are looking for. The first example is an extract from Components Summary (from the Components pre-loaded into your system):

Constructor can create a default ID for each Entry. However, for ease of use, using an “In house” ID Naming Convention can be advantageous. You can configure this numbering system in System, Automatic Numbering Customisation:

To see any Automatic Numbering Customisations that are already set up in the database, choose a Numbering Entity (1). The Delimiter field (2) is the symbol being used to separate out the Numbering Elements, in this example, it is a dash (-). Available Numbering Elements (3) lists out the items that are available to use in your new ID and Numbering Elements Used (5) are the items that have been chosen (move items from one screen to another using the arrows in the middle (4)). If you want to re-order the Numbering Elements Used, use the up and down arrows (5):

Descriptions

Names and Descriptions should also have a Naming Convention. An effective Naming Convention will make it much easier and quicker to choose AND prevent duplications. Ideally, you want to be able to tell what something is by looking at the Description.

It is recommended that you come up with a Naming Convention for each section of Constructor where you regularly need to search. Here are some examples:

  • Clients – Surname, First name/s, Town. This will allow you to search by location if you cannot remember the Clients name.
  • Projects – Come up with a combination of abbreviations that are always entered in the same sequence. For example; Surname, initials of the Project Manager or Sales Person, Building Design Number. Whatever will help to make searching easier.
  • Formula – You are likely to have many similar Formula, so think very carefully about how you want to distinguish them from each other via the Description field.

This example is for bathroom module formulas:

The next example is for an external door frame, for which you are bound to have many. At a glance, this one should be discernable from others:

  • Components – Keep in mind that the Component Description will appear on the Specification Document and on Purchase Orders. Putting the dimensions in the Description may be something you want to consider. For example, you are likely to have many ovens in your Component List. If your Component descriptions look like this:

You won’t have a clue which is the one you want until you open each of them in turn. If however, your Component list looks like this:

You can find your Component with ease.

  • Product (BOQ) – an example could be Client name/Site Address/Design/Type (eg Quote, Proposal, Contract)/Estimator Initials:

ESTIMATING

This section will take you through the basic process of Estimating from creating a Bill Of Quantities (BOQ) through to placing Orders.

The BOQ (also known as Product) is the starting point for Estimating. It can be linked to a Project first but doesn’t have to be. It is the tool through which Orders are Generated and Budgets are created.

When a new construction is started, the BOQ is a shell, which should contain some basic Budget figures. The Estimate is then built (using Formula and Components) and the BOQ is regenerated based on all the information you have just put into your Estimate. The regeneration of the BOQ, now bursting with data, populates a comprehensive Budget, broken down by Cost Centre. It also contains all the information you need to generate Purchase Orders.

Estimating in Constructor is based around Formulas. Formulas are assigned Units of Measure (UOM), and consist of Sub Formulas and Components. During the estimating process, Formulas and Components are assigned quantities then prices are calculated and the BOQ is populated with all that information.

If Component pricing is kept up to date and Formula are cleverly designed, Constructor will help make your Estimating life quicker and easier and generate accurate information for effective control of the Budget.

Creating a Simple BOQ

The BOQ goes through a number of stages in its lifetime. In the beginning, it may be simple, containing basic information. You need a BOQ before you can start Estimating. As you build the Estimate and add to the BOQ, it eventually will become the mechanism that holds all the information necessary to keep control of your Budget and to place Orders with your Suppliers / Trades. The example in this section will take you through creating a basic BOQ which will contain a simple Budget.

You do not have to have a Project to start Estimating. You can Estimate from the BOQ (Product).

To access your BOQ’s, either use the shortcut or navigate to Projects, BOQ’s:

This will open the BOQ’s Summary (1). To create a new BOQ, click New (2):

Some Estimators like to have a BOQ called Blank or something similar. This BOQ will be set up to have a Budget and an Estimating Menu and it can be attached to new Projects. This gives you a starting point so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel with every new Project.

Give your BOQ a Description (1) and an ID (2) – Keep in mind your Naming Convention! The Construction Type (3) you choose will determine the format of the Estimating Menu. The Estimating Menu contains the format for the Take Off and it is important that this flows correctly for ease of Estimating.

As this is your basic or Blank BOQ, it isn’t necessary to include all the information about the Accommodation and Dimensions etc. Once you have assigned this Blank BOQ to a Project, you can add all that information in later on.

Click Estimate (4).

Creating an Estimating Budget

After you click Estimate (above) you will be taken to the Estimating Menu (1). (The Estimating Menu is explained in detail later on in this guide). The screen opens on the Quantity Take Off tab (2). Scroll to the bottom of the Estimating Menu to find the Budget Estimating section (3). Click the + to open Budget Estimating.

Stretch the vertical bar (1) so that you can see the columns for Qty, Cost, Estimate etc (2). Expand each section of the Budget Estimating menu and enter in your best guest for a starting Budget. Work your way down the menu entering an amount into the Qty column (3). When you are finished, click Save (4) and then Generate BOQ (5).

Note: Please Save your work regularly. You don’t want to be half way through this and have a system crash, power outage etc, which would force you to start again!

You will see a message telling you the Pricing Details have changed. Enter a description and click OK:

You will see another message. It doesn’t matter if you choose Yes or No here. The message is related to Review Dates for pricing, which is seldom used.

This will populate your BOQ with all the Budget data and open it for you to view. In the bottom right hand corner, there is a summary (1) to help you determine if the figures you have entered are approximately what you expect them to be. You now have a BOQ with Budget data that you can use as a starting point for each Project.

Creating BOQ’s for Standard Designs

Rather than the simple blank BOQ outlined above, you may wish to set up a BOQ for each of your standard designs. This can contain the plans and designs as well as an Estimate, which contains the Components and Formulas that go into building that design.

You can then assign that BOQ to any Project for one of your standard designs and amend it as appropriate. The remainder of this guide explains how to attach plans, images and build Estimates, then how to produce the Purchase Orders generated by this process.

Creating a Client

The following explains how to create a new Client. You need to attach a Client to a Project BEFORE you can Save the Project. This can be done from either the shortcut, the Main menu:

Or from within any Client Search box. To begin, click the New button (1). In the top half of the screen, please populate the Main Contact details, including Phone, Email and Address. You will need to click the Add (2) button to make the entry fields visible. You can enter the Name (Display As), ID (remember your Naming Convention) and any Legal Salutation.

The bottom half of the screen is divided into several tabs. The first tab is for entering any Additional Contact Information (1) associated with this Client. As above, you will need to click the Add (2) button to activate the data entry fields:

The second tab is for Categories (1). You can either use the defaults, change them completely or not use them at all if you don’t intend to do any reporting based on Category. To assign a Category, highlight the Category on the right (2) and move with the arrows (3):

The third tab is called Trading Information (1) and is where you record Trading Terms, Ageing parameters and Company details (2), if the Client is a company:

The fourth tab is for any Notes (1) you want to appear on Client documents (Claims, Receipts or Statements)(2) that are specific to this Client and not general for all Clients. Click into any section to activate it. You can also add in any documents to save to the ConText Repository (3) if you wish.

The final tab is for linking in any Alternate Contact Details (1). For example, if the Client is a company, they may have their Claims and/or Receipts sent to a different Contact rather than the main one. Click the New (2) icon and either link to a contact person already set up against this Client (on the Additional Contact Information Tab) or Add in a New Email Address (3):

Creating a Project

Creating a Project can be done from either the shortcut or the Project summary Screen. Click the New button (1) along the top.

The upper portion of the new Project Entry allows you to put in some basic information about the Project. As a minimum, you must have:

  • A Description – allows you to name the Project (Don’t forget your Naming Convention!), making it easy to find in the Project Summary.
  • A Product (or BOQ) attached to it and
  • A Client. To set a Client for the Project you can use the Lookup button to select from your list of Clients, as shown below.

Zones

The next field to set is the Area (Zone) Field (1), which links to the Zone set on the Component Pricing tab (2).

For example, you may have a situation where a higher price needs to be applied to a Component when the Zone is more than 100 km’s from your normal area of operation. In the below example, if the Project is linked to the Zone – Over 100 km, then the higher price of $168.00 will be applied to the Component on the BOQ.

Project Statuses

Setting up new Project Statuses is not covered in this guide. For a detailed explanation, please see the Project Management guide.

The Status field on the Project (1) allow you to see the Project’s Status at a glance.

Other statuses indicate various stages of the Project, and all of these statuses can be edited or added too. To edit these statuses, navigate to Projects, Administration, Project Statuses, but it is not recommended that you change these statuses unless you are sure you need to.

The lower part of the new Project Entry screen contains various tabs showing lots of information about the Project. For a detailed explanation of all tabs, please see the Project Management guide.

Please note, the tabs within Project Entry are slightly different from the tabs on the Project Summary screen (the screen before you open the Project).

Site Addresses Tab

The Site Addresses tab (1) allows you to set the address of the construction as well as an alternate delivery address, if you ever want orders to be delivered to somewhere other than the construction address.

Product Tab

The Product tab (1) is where you can set a Product or Bill of Quantities (BOQ) (2) for your Project. A new Project cannot be saved until it has a Product (or BOQ).

A Product contains a BOQ, which contains the details on the make-up of a building, including rooms and other features. Products also include information on markup and other aspects that effect the retail price of the build.

The creation of a new BOQ is covered in 5.1 above.

To assign a BOQ on the Product tab (1), choose Set BOQ (2). This will show a list of existing BOQ’s. It is perfectly acceptable to start with a generic BOQ, in this example, called Blank BOQ.

Budget Method (3) has the following options:

  • Prevent Estimating Changes – Changes to the Estimating model will not update any manually entered Cost Centre Budget amounts. If there are Cost Centres without manually entered changes, these will update from the Estimating Model as changes are made.
  • Prevent Manual Changes – The Budget column will be locked from manual updates on the Budget screen but Estimating changes will still update the budgeted amounts per Cost Centre.
  • Locked – Nothing will change the Budget.

Preferred Supplier Groups can be set here (4). For example, if you have a building site in Gippsland, you could have a Preferred Supplier Group for Gippsland and link it to the Project here and the Supplier on the Groups tab in Supplier/Trade. When the system is generating orders from the BOQ, it will choose Suppliers from this group, if they are available for the Components being ordered.

Save and Close the Project to retain this new information. You have now successfully created a Project that is ready to be estimated.

Setting up Preferred Suppliers

This section of the guide is to elaborate further on Preferred Suppliers.

It is possible to set Preferred Suppliers against Components. The Preferred Supplier group is then attached to a Project. Then the BOQ will use the Preferred Suppliers for the various Components when compiling the Purchase Orders, but only if there is a Preferred Supplier Group linked to the Project.

To set up Preferred Suppliers, go to Projects, Administration, Components, Preferred Supplier / Trade Groups:

This will open the Supplier / Trade Group Summary Screen. Click New (1). Give your Group a Name (2) and click the Add button (3) to add in the Suppliers to this group.

Whilst the Components don’t have a Preferred Supplier directly attached, they do have a Supplier (1) on the Pricing tab (2).

If (for example, assuming that the Component has the Pricing Option set to ‘Use Lowest’) Zample Plumbing was in the Preferred Supplier Group attached to the Project and Decina was not, even though Decina has the cheaper price, Zample Plumbing would be the Supplier used on the Purchase Order. If both of these Suppliers were in the Preferred Supplier Group attached to the Project, then Decina would appear on the Order as they have the cheaper price. If there is no Preferred Supplier Group on the Project OR there is, but neither Supplier is in that Group, Decina would get the Order as they have the cheaper price:

Copy a BOQ

It is possible to copy any BOQ as at a point in time. This is useful if you need to go back to prior BOQ’s such as the one created for the Quote. From the Product tab (1), highlight the BOQ you want to copy and click the Snapshot (& Branch) button (2). This will create a copy which should then be renamed (3):

If you ever wish to find this copied BOQ and you cannot remember which Project it was for, either click the shortcut or go to the Project Menu, then BOQ,s:

Change the Type to Custom (1) and your new BOQ will be on this list (2).

Tip: If you are preparing a Quote for a Client and are unsure whether you are likely to get the job, it may be worthwhile taking some shortcuts. After all, you don’t want to spend time doing a full, detailed Estimate for a job that you may never get. Create a BOQ just for your Quote and keep the Estimate broad. IF your Quote is accepted, make a copy of that original BOQ and use the copy to do the detailed Estimating on. You can then use the Quote BOQ to compare back to.

Creating a Supplier/Trade

You will almost certainly have to create your own Suppliers/Trades whilst Estimating. The following explains how to create a new Supplier/Trade. This can be done from the shortcut, the Main menu:

Or from within any Supplier/Trade Search box. To begin, click the New button (1). In the top half of the screen, please populate the Supplier’s Company Details (2). On the left, create all the associated Contacts for this Supplier/Trade. Click Add Person (3). The pop-up box for adding in Contact information will appear (4). You can enter the Name, Job Title, Practitioner number and contact details.

The bottom half of the screen is divided into several tabs. The first tab (1) is for entering any Additional Contact people associated with this Supplier/Trade. As above, you will need to click the Add (2) button to activate the data entry fields:

The second tab is called Trading Information (1) and is where you record Trading Information for the Supplier/Trade. Also enter the bank details (2), as you will be making payments to them and most likely by EFT:

The third tab is for Preferred Supplier Groups (1). There will be one pre-populated in your database. You can either use the default or set up new ones. See Setting Up Preferred Suppliers above.

If the Supplier is not in one of your Preferred Groups, then do not move any Groups over to the left-hand window.

The fourth tab is for the Supplier/Trade Settings (1). These settings are defaults and can be changed at the time of creating your Transactions. Even the Supplier Type (2) can be changed. For example, a Supplier may need to change to a Contractor or vice versa.

  • Supplier or Contractor (2). This will be important for the system calculated TPR (Taxable Payments Report), which is for Contractors only.
  • Activity (3) choose from the list (if you are using these for Reporting purposes – if not, then leave it blank),
  • Trading terms (4) are important for the system to determine the Due Date of Invoices.
  • Accounting Defaults (5). The GST code will be automatically populated on Invoices, if you choose a default here, as will Payment Method. These can be changed when creating a transaction.
  • Default Accounting Transaction Line Types (6) are for Purchase Orders and Invoices. When creating either an Order or an Invoice, the system will default this Type for each new line. This can be changed during transaction entry.

The fifth tab is for any Notes (1) you want to appear on Supplier documents (Purchase Orders and Payments) that are specific to this Supplier and not general for all Suppliers. Click into any section to activate it. You can also add in any documents to save to the ConText Repository (2) if you wish:

The sixth tab is to record the Supplier’s Insurance details. Choose from the drop down, then click Add (2). This will populate the screen with the required fields for that Insurance Type:

If the Suppliers Public Liability Insurance expires, a red line will appear against the Supplier whenever if it is used, so that you are aware and can contact them for the new information:

The final tab is for linking in any alternate Contact details (1). For example, the Supplier may prefer their Purchase Orders and payments be sent to a different Contact rather than the main one. Click the New icon (2) and either link to a contact person already set up against this Supplier (on the Additional Contact Information Tab) or Add a New Email Address (3):

Components

Components in Constructor are materials or labour. They can be:

  • An Item, such as a brick or an oven.
  • Labour rates for Contractors.
  • Notes only – these Components are notes that may need to be considered during Estimating but have no cost to us, such as a swimming pool that is being installed by the owner. We need to know about it and make allowances for it, but it isn’t a cost to us.

Creating a Component

The following explains how to create a new Component. This can be done from either the shortcut, Main menu or from within any Component Search box:

To begin, click the New button (1). (Keep in mind the Naming Convention). On the Component Details Tab (2) fill in as much detail as you can about the Component. Fill in all the information (2), including

  • Estimating Unit of Measure
  • Category
  • Classification

Go to the Cost Centre Tab (1). Click New (2), choose the relevant Cost Centre and save your Component.

Component Pricing

Once you have created your Component, you will want to add a price or prices for Estimating and Budgeting. From within your newly created Component, click the Pricing button (1), then New Price (2).

You can choose the Supplier (1) for this price if you know it. If you don’t know it and you will be guessing the price for Estimating purposes, choose the Estimating Supplier, which has been set up for just this purpose.

Please note the different Units of Measure for each Component. There is the Ordering unit of Measure (2) and the Delivery Unit of Measure (3) (on the Component Details tab, this is the Estimating Unit of Measure). These are not always necessarily the same. For example, Architrave may be Estimated in linear metres, but ordered in 5.4 metre lengths.

Note: If, when you are working on your Estimate you find a price for something that is ridiculously high, e.g. in the millions, you may have these the wrong way around in the Component setup.

Once a Component has been created and is in use, from time to time you may need to amend or add to the pricing. Use these buttons for these scenarios:

Take note of the Effective From date (1). This is important when prices are refreshed later on during Estimating and BOQ generation.

Copying a Component

Components can be copied. This is a time saver if you have a number of similar Components. From the Component Summary, find and highlight the Component you wish to copy and click the Copy button (1). This will open up a copy of the Component. Change the name and enter the ID (Keeping in mind your Naming Convention). The Pricing information will copy as well, so remember to change that if necessary.

Bulk Editing of Components

You can make changes to more than one Component at a time. The following are available to change and the change will affect all Selected Components:

  1. General Details
  2. Text Replacement
  3. Estimating & Ordering Details
  4. General Ledger Links
  5. Cost Centre Links
  6. Colours

To make bulk changes to your Components, either use the Component shortcut or go to Projects, Components.

To choose the Components you wish to change, either

  • highlight a range (holding down Shift on the first Component, scroll to the bottom of the range and highlight the last Component in the range),
  • highlight Components NOT in a range, (holding down Ctrl and clicking the Components) or
  • if you want to do them all, use the Select All button (1). Click on Component Bulk Edit (2).

The Wizard screens are shown below. The fields available to amend on (3) will depend upon what you choose to Edit in (2). It is suggested that you try your change on one Component in the first instance. If the change is correct and as you expect it, you can go ahead and apply the changes in bulk.

Budgeting and Cost Centres

Cost Centres

Cost Centre layouts (or hierarchies) are associated with Construction Types. Therefore, when you create a Project and attach a Construction Type, you are also choosing the Cost Centre Layout. Budgets are presented in Cost Centre layout.

Every Component in the database must be linked to a Cost Centre. A Component can only be linked to one Cost Centre.

To view or modify a Cost Centre, go to Projects, Administration, Cost Centre Layout:

And choose the appropriate Construction Type (1):

The Cost Centre hierarchy groups together activities or stages of a build. A good rule of thumb here is try to keep it simple. If the hierarchy is too complicated, it will become difficult to oversee the Budget (which is viewed by Cost Centre). If you decide that you want to completely re-do your Cost Centre structure, then keep these points in mind:

  • Keep it simple
  • Leave gaps in your numbering structure, so you can easily add in things that you may have missed. It is possible to move items around, but you want to avoid your numbering getting jumbled up too much if you can.
  • Use clear labelling
  • No duplicates
  • Keep like things together
  • Think about your Budget and what view will be best to allow for most effective control
  • Existing Cost Centre links will need to be removed from existing Components and the new Cost Centre attached.

If you want to keep the hierarchy but need to add in levels, use the New button (1). Give your new level a Description and decide if it is a header or not. In the example below, 10 – PRELIMINARIES is a header and 11 – 19 are postable. If you want to move anything around, highlight it and use the up and down arrows (2). You can Delete anything you don’t need. (If you do Delete any Cost Centre, the Component will have a line on the Cost Centre tab Cost Centre not Set.)

Budgets

Understanding the Budget is essential to successfully using Constructor. The Budget is used to provide a quote to your Client, produce your WIP report and ultimately determines if you have made money or lost it.

The Budget is populated when a BOQ is generated in the Estimating Model. Generally, once a Client has signed a Contract, you would want to lock the Budget so that any re-generations of the BOQ do not change the Budget. Any changes thereafter would need to go via Variations and your Variations Budget.

The Budget is presented in the layout of the Cost Centres, which are linked to the Construction Type set against the Project.

To view the Budget, from the Project Summary screen (1), click Budgets (2).

There are a number of columns on your Budget screen, explained below. Note that your security permissions may limit what you have access to here:

  • Original Budget – The Budget as generated by the BOQ and locked after the Contract is signed.
  • Variation Budget – As we know, there are almost always Variations, which can be viewed on the Variations tab against the Project.
  • Total Budget – Original Budget + Variation Budget
  • Orders – These are your committed costs
  • Invoices – These should ideally always have a purchase order matched to them. If your Invoices are higher than your Orders, you would want to investigate.
  • Credits – For returns and refunds, which will be subtracted from Invoices in the Budget calculations.
  • Payments – Subtracting Payments from either your Orders or Invoices gives an indication of how much money remains to be paid out for a Cost Centre.
  • Journals – It may be necessary to move expenses around between Cost Centres. This can be done using Journals and the total will be taken into account when calculating Variance.
  • Payroll – If you are using Payroll and have permissions to Payroll, you can see any Payroll costs that have been coded to the Cost Centre.
  • Forecast – How much is this going to cost in total.
  • Forecast Variance – How much more or less is this going to cost than budgeted for.
  • Actual Variance to Date – The current position.
  • C/C Comp – Cost Centre Complete. This can be manually set to 100 if a Cost Centre has been finished. This is also used in WIP report calculations.
  • % Locked
  • % Project

You can drill into the following fields to view the associated transactions (permissions permitting):

  • Orders
  • Invoices
  • Credits
  • Payments
  • Journals
  • Payroll

In this example, on the Project Budget screen (1), if you hover over the Invoices amount field, a lookup will become visible (2). This means there is itemized data that can be drilled into:

Importing and Editing Images

You will need to import your plans before you can start Estimating. There will be some already populated, but you may want to add your own. Constructor can import PDF’s, JPEG’s and PNG’s.

From the Project Summary screen (1), highlight the Project and open the Images tab at the bottom (2) and click the Images button (3).

On the left of the Images window there are four options for you to save your image into; Floor Plan, Elevation, Section and Photographs (1). Simply highlight the section you would like to add your image into. When you do this, you will notice the Add from File button (2) will become active and will allow you to browse to your image folder to select your plans. Click the Open button (3) to upload your plan.

Cropping and resizing your Image is also a very important start to preparing your Image for importation into Constructor. To do this while in the Images window select the Image and click the Edit button (1).

The Image Editor window offers many editing options including options to rotate your plan for the best view (2) and a Resize button (3). Set your Image to the most comfortable view for you and select Save & Close. Repeat these steps to continue adding in your floor plans, elevations and any other Images that would be required for the estimation.

Constructor has a user definable limit on how large an Image can be when imported, which can be set by an administrator in your Company settings. This keeps files and images down to a reasonable size and will let you know if the Image you are trying to import is too large. To edit these settings to go System, Company:

Open your Company and navigate to the Images tab (1). From your Image Settings tab (2), choose the area you are setting limits for (3), then you can set the maximum width and height allowed for each type of image (4).

Estimating Menu

The Estimating Menu is the powerhouse of Constructor. It holds all the information you need to build an accurate Estimate.

To open the Estimating Menu, go to the Project Summary and highlight your Project. Click Estimate (1).

This will open up the Estimating Menu (1) which has all your Formulas, Components (2), Images (3) and a window for your Take Off (4).

There are two tabs at the top of the screen. The Modelling Window (1) and the Quantity Take off Window (2). Think of the Quantity Take Off as adding items to a supermarket trolley and the Modelling as what is left after you have ‘taken off’ the doorways, windows etc.

The screen will open on the Modelling Window. Move to the Quantity Take Off Window to see the entire Estimating Menu.

The Estimating Menu is the list of what is available on the Take Off tab. It is linked to a Construction Type and if it needs editing, you can access it via the Projects, Administration menu.

There is one detailed Estimating Menu that comes with your database (under the Residential Construction Type). If it isn’t laid out the way you want it or you need to change it, you can.

Here is an example of an Estimating Menu laid out by room, in case you are looking for other ideas on layout:

Layers and Sub Layers

The Estimating Menu is made up of Layers and Sub-Layers. Layers are in purple, Sub Layers in blue. You can add a new Layer or Sub-Layer. To create a new Layer, highlight the Estimating Menu (1) and click New (2). Give your Layer a Description (3) and Save and Close. The Layer will be inserted at the bottom of the menu, so scroll down to find it, highlight it and use the up and down arrows (3) to move it to the position you want it on the menu.

To add in a new Sub-Layer, highlight the Layer you wish to add the Sub-Layer to (1) and click New (2). Enter a Description for your new Sub-Layer and if you want this Sub-Layer to appear on the Specification document, tick Display within the Project Specification (3). Highlight the Formula/e for this Sub-Layer (4) and use the arrows in the middle to move it to the right-hand side (5). Save and Close. If the new Sub-layer saves into the wrong position, use the up and down arrows to re-arrange it.

If you want to add in a new Layer or Sub-Layer from within an Estimate, you will find the tab at the bottom of either the Take Off or Modelling menu (1). Highlight the Layer or Sub-Layer you wish to add (2) and click the Add to Model button (3):

This is the basic display of the Estimating Menu:

  • The purple lines are Layers
  • The blue lines are Sub-Layers
  • The red lines are Formula.

Click the Plus (+) symbol next to the corresponding Layer or Sub-layer you would like to open and the contents of that line will be shown. Layers and Sub-layers can be opened. Formulas do not open. They are the item you are entering quantities against to create your Estimate. If you are unsure about what a specific Formula contains, you can view the Formula by highlighting it and selecting the Open button next to the Search bar (1) or by right clicking and select View Formula (2). Understanding what a Formula contains is the best way to get an understanding of how the quantity take-off process works within Constructor.

Formulas

Formulas are the backbone of your Estimate. Get your Formulas right and you will be able to do a Take Off in a couple of hours. Formulas are a bundle of Components that go together to make up a small section of your build. Here are a couple of examples.

This Formula sits within ROOMS (not Kitchen/Laundry/Wet Areas), Bedroom 1 on the Estimating Menu (1)). This example looks at the Shelving – Robe – 1 Melamine Shelf 450mm & Rod Only (2000mm)(1972) Formula first (2):

The Formula comprises (summarized) everything that is needed for shelving in the robe (3):

  • Melamine
  • Customwood
  • Carpenter fix-out
  • Fixing Material
  • Fixing Hardware
  • Chrome Rod
  • Pillars (Centre)
  • Note Only
  • Pillars (End Chrome)

The following Formula is more complex and has Sub Formula’s within it. It sits within WALLS, DOORS, WINDOWS, PIERS & POSTS (Main Roof)(1), Windows, Door Frames, Openings, Infills & Vehicle Doors (2). This example looks at Door – Internal Complete – 2340 x 820 Primecoat PH/L [15227](3):

The Formula comprises (summarized), everything needed for an internal door (4). It subtracts any of the wall elements which this door replaces (i.e. you need to remove from the Formula the part of the wall that will not be required, as there is a door there). Notice the subtractions are in Pink:

  • Plaster Board Lining
  • Door Stop
  • Architrave
  • Skirting
  • Pre-fab door opening
  • Jambs & Stops
  • Handle

The Sub Formula (2) comprises the door itself. It is perfectly acceptable to have just one item in a Formula or a Sub Formula. Set up your Formulas for the way you work AND so that you can read them easily.

Module Formula

To make your Estimating life easier, you may wish to set up module Formulas, such as a Bathroom module or a Kitchen module. These can be used as standard modules in an Estimate and modified for each job as required.

Here is an example of a Bathroom Module (1).

It contains Sub Formulas (2) for:

  • Bath (Complete)
  • Accessories
  • Edging
  • Dado

Looking at the Sub Formula for Bath Complete (1):

It contains (2):

  • Bath (Sub Formula)
  • Tap (Sub Formula)
  • Tiler labour
  • Sealer

Open the two Sub Formulas (1) to see they contain (2):

  • Bath – 1675 mm
  • Pine
  • Bath Plug
  • Bath
  • Plumber
  • Tap Set
  • Mixer Tap

So, adding one Bath Complete to your Estimate will add in all the other things in its Sub Formulas. This can be a huge time saver.

Generic Formula

You can also create Generic Formula to help with speedy Estimating. Generic Formula have a price of $1.00, which you change when Estimating. These are particularly handy for quoting, where a final decision hasn’t been made by the Client. Below is an example of a Formula for a Generic BBQ (1). You know that the plumber charges $400 to install a BBQ in the alfresco area, but you don’t yet know which BBQ the Client wants. When preparing the quote, change the Unit Cost for the barbeque to your best guess (2):

A good rule of thumb is to create your Formulas based on what you normally do when you build.

Creating Formula from the Main Menu

If you are creating or edit a Formula (that you are likely to want to use again), make sure you create it via the Formula menu, rather than within a single Estimate (where it won’t be available to attach to any new Estimates).

To access the Formula main menu, either use the shortcut button or go to Projects, Formulas:

This will open the Formula Summary screen. Click on New (1).

Fill in the details for this Formula. Take care to use your Naming Convention for both the Description and the ID. Choose the Formula Category (2) and the UOM (3) from the lookups.

The tick box for This Formula is a Standard Option for use in Standard Products (4) will link this Formula into the Sales Module so the Sales team can include it in their Preliminary Estimate, if you are using the Sales section of Constructor.

Once you have entered the information required for your Formula, click the Modelling button (1). You will see two tabs – Formulas and Components (2):

To add Components to your Formula, make sure you are on the Components Tab (1);

Use the Search option to find the Component (2). If it doesn’t exist, click the New button and create it. Highlight the required Component (3). Click Add to Model (4) and the Component will move into the Formula. It will already have the cost populated from whatever is set against the Component.

Repeat until you have the required Components in your Formula.

If you want to add Sub Formula to your Formula, make sure you are on the Formulas Tab (1);

Use the Search option to find the Formula (2). If it doesn’t exist, click the New button and create it. Highlight the required Formula (3). Click Add to Model (4) and the Formula will move into the Formula.

Once you are finished, Save & Close your Formula. It will now be available to use on all Estimates.

Creating Formula from the Estimating Model

You can create or edit a Formula from the Estimate Modelling or the Quantity Take Off Windows (1). Highlight the Formula tab (2) and click on New (3) to open the Formula Entry window (4):

If you want to edit a Formula, on the Formulas tab (1), search for your Formula (2). Right click on it and choose Open (3). The Formula will open for editing (4):

Make your changes and Save and Close (in this example, the Description was changed). If for some reason you want to change this back to what it was previously, go to the Refresh button (1) and choose Revert the Frettwork Heritage style Model (2):

Refreshing Components in the Estimate

Components can be refreshed from within Estimating. For example, there may be a price change for a particular Component or a Component description may have been edited globally and needs to be refreshed in the Estimate.

In this example, during the preparation of an Estimate, it is realised that the Carpenter – Fit Off labour rate has changed. On the Modelling tab (1)

  • Make sure you are on the Components tab (2) and search for you Component (3)
  • Highlight the Component. Right click it and choose Open (4)
  • Click on Pricing to open the Component Pricing tab and Click Enter a Price Change (5)
  • Change the Price and the Effective From Date (6). Move off the Price field to make the Save options active, then Save & Close.

Now you have changed the Price in the Component, you will need to refresh the Estimate. Go to Refresh (1), Refresh Prices as at Today (2):

Substitution / Replacement of Components

On occasion you may need to substitute Components that are already on an Estimate, due to unavailability etc.

You will need to have some Replacements set up against the Component. Highlight the Component on the Component Summary and go to the Replacements Tab (1), where you can see if any Replacements have been set for a Component. If you want to Add or Remove any, click the Change button (2)

This will bring up the Components Replacement selection box. Find the Replacement/s and click the arrow in the middle (3) to move the Replacement/s to the right hand box.

To Replace the Component from the Estimating Menu, find the Component on a Formula (1) and right click, Replace (2). You can then choose to Replace just this occurrence, or you can choose Replace All (3) for every occurrence of the Component in this Estimate.

You will see a message asking if you want to Replace the Component/s:

Take Off

Once you have imported your images and understand your Components and Formulas, you are ready to begin the Take Off. As you work down the Estimating Menu adding in Quantities by either using the Graphical Tool or manually typing in the Quantity, your Estimate begins to take shape. All of the Quantities added into the Take Off will automatically transfer immediately to the Modelling menu where the Formulas are stored.

NB: Please Save your work regularly. On occasion, the Estimating menu may freeze (depending on your network and pc) and it is important not to have to re-do your work in that event.

The Estimate button on the Project Summary Screen (1) will open on the Estimate.

Move to the Quantity Take off Window (1). You will notice underneath the heading for Graphical Take Off (2), tabs for each of your imported images (3):

Underneath that is a bar which has all your tools for Estimating.

The Select tool is automatically selected when you arrive in this screen (1). This tool is used for deleting Take Offs and for simple navigation around the image. With any tool selected you can always right click on the image and drag to navigate your view. This can be handy when working quickly as you don’t need to switch tools to the Zoom function as often.

Here you will notice to the right of the Zoom tool, the Take Off tool is greyed out and has a warning sign (2). When you see one of these symbols anywhere in Constructor, simply hover your mouse over the sign and it will display a notification message. In this instance the message will read Image not scaled and possibly also No formula selected in estimating menu, which will be explained below in 5.11.1 Scaling Image.

Scaling Image

Scaling your image is one of the most important tasks for a successful Take Offs and much care should be given at this stage. Make sure your Image is located where you want it on the page. To zoom without using the Zoom tool, use the scroll bar on your mouse. To move the image, right click your mouse. The cursor will change to look like a hand, which you can use to move your image to the correct position.

Step 1: Select the Scale tool (1). A small square box should appear on the image (2).

Adjust and move this box with your mouse over the known dimensions of your plan (1). You can choose the whole perimeter or even just a room or two, as long as you can enter in the dimensions in mm. At this stage, there is a good chance that the lines of your scaling box are not going to be very accurate over your plan, don’t worry you’re not done yet.

Use the toggles (2) on the side and corners of the scaling rectangle to adjust the length and width of your box.

To adjust the size of your scaling rectangle, using the mouse wheel to zoom, make your image as large as possible and use the toggles to move the side and bottom toggles to navigate around the screen. As seen below, hold your pointer over the toggle and the pointer will change shape to look like a double headed arrow. This will allow you to hold the left mouse button down and drag until your rectangle is exact and in the correct position.

Once you have secured all sides, simply type in the known dimensions into the X and Y boxes (3) and hit tab to refresh your scale. Your image is now scaled…or is it?

Step 2: Checking your scale. Checking the scale of your plan is also a very important step to making sure your Take Off will be accurate. In Constructor, the color of the scale box determines how close you are to scaling your dimensions.

Red means there is a significant difference in the scaling factor dimensions.

Blue means the dimensions do not match exactly but are close (1).

Green means the scaling dimensions are perfect (2).

If your measurements are not quite correct, adjust the scale box until the measurements at the bottom of the Graphical Take Off window are within at least a 1mm difference.

If you are having trouble with your scaling and are not sure if the plan is accurate, you can use the Measure function (1) to check Constructor measurements against your plan. You will find the Measure button next to the Scale and Select buttons. Using the pointer, hold the left mouse button down and drag over an area of known dimension. It will display the measurement you have just taken underneath the Measure tool (2). This will give you a clue as to how close your scale is. If the numbers aren’t matching up at all between what Constructor is measuring and what your plan says, try scaling another area of the plan.

Once your scale is set and has a green square or at least a blue square that is within 1mm: You are now ready to start your Quantity Take Off.

Preparing the Take Off

Think of the Estimating Menu (on the Quantity Take Off tab) as adding items into a supermarket trolley and the Modelling tab as what is left after we “Take Out” the windows, doors etc. Start at the top of the list and work down. You may not need all of the Layers or Sub-Layers on the Estimating Menu for every Estimate you prepare. If you don’t need it for a particular Estimate, then leave it blank.

To add a Quantity to a Formula as part of your Take Off, select your Formula by highlighting it (1). Each Formula has a Unit of Measure (UOM) (2) which is very important in the Take Off process. There are four main types of UOM for formulas (though your database may have more):

  • lm – Lineal meters
  • m2 – square meters
  • m3 – cubic meters – these cannot be done via the Graphical Take Off and must be entered manually
  • Each – Per item, per job, per week etc..

Quantities can be added by entering the figure manually or using the drawing tools to configure your Quantity. A Formula will turn bold when it has a recorded Quantity.

Make sure you have the Take Off button highlighted (3). If you are accidentally on Measure, your Quantities will not populate on the Estimating Menu:

When you highlight a Formula and return your pointer to the plan, you will notice the pointer has now been allocated a symbol. This symbol will change depending on the UOM of the formula you have selected.

  • If you select a Formula with an Each UOM, the drawing object will appear as a circle

To draw the object, hold the left mouse button down and drag a short distance and the circle will be drawn. The size of the circle has no consequence, as a single circle is always a qty of 1.

In this example, there are 2 external cold water taps (1):

  • If you select a Formula with a ‘lm’ UOM, the mouse pointer will appear as;

The drawing object will appear as a solid line.

To draw the line, hold the left mouse button down and drag a line (1). Release the left mouse button when you want to end the line. Note: If you hold the shift key down while you draw, the line will draw perfectly straight.

If you select a Formula with a m2 UOM, the pointer will appear as a rectangle;

To draw a square, hold the left mouse button down and drag over an area. Release the left mouse button when you have covered the desired area (1).

The ‘freehand’ pointer will appear as;

Which will draw an image such as;

The freehand tool allows you to take off any area that is not square or round. Like a concrete path around a bay window. Any shape can be created with this tool.

To draw a shape with the polygon tool, single click the left mouse button on each corner of the shape you would like to create and double-click on the last corner to close off the shape. If you have started a shape that you do not wish to finish, click the ‘Select’ button in the menu to automatically finish and highlight your partial shape. Right click and select ‘Remove’ to remove the unwanted shape and then click the ‘Select’ button again to begin drawing a new shape. This will reset the pointer back ready to start another shape.

All quantities can also be entered manually in to the Estimating Menu columns. For e.g. if you have a drawing object and the quantity for that object is 25.21, you can manually change that quantity to 26 without affecting the drawing object.

Generating the Bill of Quantities (BOQ)

Once the Take Off is complete and the Modelling is correct, it is time to generate the BOQ. This will populate the Budget and the Orders can be Generated.

Click Generate BOQ (1). You may receive a message regarding price changes (2). Fill in a price change reason and click OK. You may receive another message regarding Review Date (3). Unless you are using Review Dates for Component Pricing, it makes little difference if you click Yes or No here.

You will then see your BOQ Cost Centre screen. Notice that it is organized by Cost Centre (1) and includes Budget information (2).

If you need to make any changes, then close the BOQ, make the changes in the Estimate and Re-Generate the BOQ.

Ordering

Ordering from Constructor can be done in the following ways.

  • From the Purchase order Generator – this is ordering on a grand scale! Orders can be created by Cost Centre or individually. As long as your Formulas and Components are correct, using this option will be the quickest and most time saving way of generating orders. You can access this from the BOQ, Cost Centre button on the Project Summary and the Budget button on the Project Summary.
  • Individually from the Accounting menu – ordering this way still gives you the option to link the order to a Cost Centre.

Using the Purchase Order Generator.

From wherever you are accessing the Generate Orders button, click on it to open the Purchase Order Generator (1). In the Left-hand window, you will see the BOQ, by Cost Centre (2).

There are a number of ways to raise Orders:

  • By Component – Start typing the Component Description in the Search box (1) and click the Binoculars to show the Results (2) (In Green). Highlight the Required Component and click the Create Orders button (3). This will populate the Details with the Supplier and the Component (4). At this point you can Change Supplier (5) if you need to. When you are ready to Generate the Order, click either Save (Generate Purchase Orders) OR Save & Close (Generate Purchase Orders) (6). The Purchase Order will now be available to either Email or Print (7).

  • By Cost Centre – Choose the Cost Centre you want to Order for (1) then click the Create Orders button (2). This will populate the Details window with all outstanding Orders for the Cost Centre (3). You can Change Supplier (4) if required. Save and Close (5) to bring up the Purchase Orders Summary Screen, where you can choose to Print or Email the Orders (6).

  • By Project – If you want to order all the outstanding orders for a Project, you can on this screen. Highlight the Project at the top level (1) then click the Create Orders button (2). This will populate the Details window with the outstanding Orders for the Project (3). You can Change Supplier (4) if required. Save and Close (5) to bring up the Purchase Orders Summary Screen, where you can choose to Print or Email the Orders (6).

Deleting, Invoicing, Viewing and Completing Orders

Open the Orders Summary Screen from either the shortcut or by going to Accounting, Accounts Payable, Orders:

This will open the Accounts Payable Purchase Orders Summary screen (1), which by default will open All Outstanding orders (2). You can change this Order Status from All Outstanding to:

  • New (uninvoiced)
  • Partly Invoiced or
  • Fully Invoiced

There are a number of actions that can be performed from this screen. Working from left to right, these are:

  • New – To create a new Order, click the New button (1). Choose the Supplier/Trade (2) and fill in as many details as possible on the top half of the screen. Move to the grid. Choose the line Type (3):
    • C: Cost Centre – Allows you to link to a Cost Centre and a Project.
    • S: Component – Allows you to link the order to a Project and a Component.
    • G: General Ledger – this type will NOT allow you to choose a Cost Centre or a Component. This is only for coding to the General Ledger and there should be no need to use this on a Purchase Order.

Choose your Project then either a Cost Centre or a Component from the column labelled Code (4), dependent upon which line Type has been chosen. The Component price will populate. If you need to change it for any reason, please provide a Variance Reason (5). Choose any of the Save methods, then you can Print or Email the Order (6):

  • You can Open, Print, Email and Copy Orders. If you choose the Copy option (1), you may see a message (2) which you would answer with OK. Then the new Purchase Order will open (3) and be a copy of the original one. You have the opportunity to change anything that needs changing before you Save it.

  • You can Delete (1) a Purchase Order (as long as it hasn’t been Invoiced), and you can create an Invoice (2) from this screen.

To create an Invoice from the Order, highlight an Order and choose the Invoice option (2), the Accounts Payable Invoice screen will open (3), with the details of the order populated on the grid (4). Any other Uninvoiced orders for this Supplier/Trade will be available to add to this Invoice if you required (5). Click the Add to Invoice button (6) if you wish to do so. You can Partially Invoice by changing the Price or Quantity on the grid (7).

  • You can also View Invoices (1) and Mark them as Complete for Budget Purposes (2). Marking them Complete will mean that any remaining commitment is removed and no more Invoicing can take place against the Order.