Every subcontractor has been there… you’ve just spent several days (or weeks) scanning every plan, elevation, detail and spec to get a complete QTO, applying pricing and submitting a bid. Now, the General Contractor is pressing for your quantity breakdown. No matter how good the relationship is, sharing detailed takeoff information is a difficult pill to swallow.
Traditionally, subcontractors (at least the ones I’ve worked for) hesitate to share quantity information with the General Contractor requesting a bid. Often, it’s perceived as a method for reverse engineering a bid to shop the number, leverage when change orders come up, or even be held as a standard on future projects. In short, quantity sharing feeds a subcontractor’s fear of being commoditized.
Technology, however, is once again changing the scene. BIM is reshaping how quantity information is created, extracted and shared. Solutions like Assemble Insight can cut the QTO effort from days or weeks down to hours for GCs and Subs alike. As BIM adoption expands, the difficulty of extracting accurate, reliable quantity data will diminish, as will any likelihood in variance between the GC and Sub’s quantities.
So, who wins? It’s easy to see the benefit to the General Contractor; more accurate budgeting, fewer RFIs, faster bid turnaround and the list goes on. However, do these benefits come at the cost of the subcontractor?
While ‘padding the numbers’ will become more difficult, and per unit pricing will become more meaningful than ever, there is a huge upside for subcontractors. Imagine cutting estimating time by more than half, making it possible to bid twice as many projects. Quantity takeoff is pure overhead, requiring skilled, knowledgeable staff to comb thru large, evolving data sets. BIM provides an opportunity to maximize the utilization of the estimating staff, increasing their speed, accuracy and ability to respond to changes. Model based estimating is an opportunity to simultaneously add revenue and cut costs.
Brent Ramos is an experienced Estimator, Project Manager and Licensed Contractor. Over the past 5 years Brent worked with design manufacturing, infrastructure and building companies to successfully implement CAD and BIM technologies. Currently, Brent is broadening the democratization of BIM data at Assemble Systems. Brent and his wife Tamara live in Folsom, California with their four children.
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