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Earthwork & Utility Estimating Software

Earthwork & Utility Estimating Software

(OP)
Looking for some input regarding earthwork and utility estimating software. Currently, I am performing simple area and length take-offs with Bluebeam Revu, mixed with some good old-fashioned paper plans, scale rulers, pencil, and spreadsheets. The biggest issue I am running into, is that it's taking too long to put together take-offs and bids, and I need to get more of these out the door on a weekly basis...you know, throw 5 bids out, hoping for 1 to stick...vs. putting out 1 bid HOPING that 1 sticks...too risky and too stressful.

A little background: We are a dozen employees strong, 2 crews, we perform road reconstruction, site prep, site development, utilities, commercial site work, wetland construction, etc. For the municipal jobs (i.e. utility systems, road work) I need to be able to take-off trench work, swell and compaction factors, bedding materials, pavements, curb work, storm, sewer, and water, etc. For site work, cut and fill is very important to me, especially when we are building our own developments and this will also help with our feasibility studies of the land. I'd like to think I am computer savvy, so learning the software is something I feel will not be an issue. However, I have no experience with ACAD Civil 3D.

When I was in college we used On-Screen Takeoff, which really isn't geared towards the earth industry, and I used HCSS for the bid estimating and job costing for the earth industry (beautiful piece of software).

So far, through my research, I have my eyes on two candidates: Insite Sitework and TBC (Trimble Business Center). We are a CAT company at heart, so naturally, our Sales Rep set us up with one of their affiliates, who deals and sells TBC, Trimble GPS, and Machine Control for CAT equipment. By the way, one of our focal points is to introduce a dozer to our fleet with GPS machine control in the very near future. Therefore, I can see how it would make sense to utilize TBC to perform not only take-offs, but to create the models and import them into the machine, all under one software platform. However, Insite Sitework seemed a little more user friendly and appeared to be more detailed with respect to utility and trench detail, site balancing, topsoil re-spread, etc. Also, I am looking at estimating software for bidding, which leads me to HCSS HeavyBid, which again, is a natural attraction since I've used it throughout my college career. Ironically, HCSS and Insite are partnered with respect to data entry. Everything that is taken-off in Insite can be imported to HCSS to build the project estimate. To my knowledge, TBC does not have the capability nor the detailed layers to perform comprehensive cost estimates like HCSS can, such as building crews for particular activities.

On the other hand, I could be completely wrong with what I am looking at and should be looking at other options. This is what I've heard about the others: CARLSON - seems to be a very popular choice, AGTEK - seems to be the most expensive, PAYDIRT - some negative reviews regarding capability, although I am not really sure why, ACAD CIVIL 3D - seems to be an option used by engineers since they are typically already using this program as their design platform, and others that I do not have to much knowledge about: VIEWPOINT, TALLY SYSTEMS.

In a nut shell, we aren't building super highways or major span bridges, but I need to implement software that can 1. Provide detailed take-offs 2. Apply the take-offs to an estimate and cost the job 3. Be able to build a model for a GPS controlled machine (in the future, when acquired, or even a machine that is rented in the interim). Whether it's one suite that does it all, or a combination of specific software platforms that can communicate with one another - it does not matter to me. In terms of budget, I'm not saying money is no object, BUT, when you really think about it, in theory, purchasing the most efficient, user friendly, and comprehensive software SHOULD return with the best dividends, as long as the user (me) is receptive and committed to learning its capabilities. Any software will return with greater efficiency opposed to how I am performing quantity take-offs to date, but I personally feel taking the extra step into the "best" offered software is worth the coin. The only other concern of mine would be the longevity of the software developer...a mom and pop shop may offer an excellent product, however, what if they belly-up and tech support is no longer available? Again, another reason why TBC is a major player in my eyes seeing as they are likely to have staying power in this industry.

I apologize for such a long post, thank you for reading and being able to provide any input!

Cheers!

Dan

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