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Senior Estimator
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
It came to me this morning that estimators may need technique, not technical support. Questions about estimating concepts, organization and setup within a particular estimating system may not be answered well by tech support. Since I joined this forum to give back to the industry that gave me a great career, I am offering to help out with technique questions regarding Conest Intellibid. My qualifications are 40 years in the industy, 30 years estimating and project management, 30 years as a computerized estimating system user, and 10 years as a ConEst Intellibid user.

Please don't bother to ask me tech support questions. Call ConEst at 1 (800) 662-7687.

If this works, maybe you estimators who have expetise in other estimating systems could also start a topic.
 

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Just to try and get things started here, from the time you get the drawings till the time you have your bid finished, what is the order in which you work with intellibid. For instance I know the first order of business is to set up the job. Then from there what are the steps/order you go through?
 

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Senior Estimator
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Just to try and get things started here, from the time you get the drawings till the time you have your bid finished, what is the order in which you work with intellibid. For instance I know the first order of business is to set up the job. Then from there what are the steps/order you go through?
If you have an order of takeoff you are used to, keep it. If not make one and turn it into a check list. Always do your takeoff in the same order. In my company we have two orders, commercial and industrial. Feeders are moved to the front of the order for industrial as they make up about 80% of the takeoff. Of course, always takeoff quantities required for quoted items first.

The last paragraph was to prepare you for this. Modify the Phase Tree in Intellibid to reflect your takeoff order. This can be done in Maintenance/Master Phase Tree. In the same screen, you can also re-name the Phase Tree levels to reflect your preferences. Here are mine:

Level 1 - Bid Item
Level 2 - Area/Building (such as a school has admin, gym, etc.)
Level 3 - System (such as lightong, outlets, etc.)
Level 4 - Plan Page

The following is our standard phase tree at the System level

Lighting
Outlets
Branch
Feeder
Site Structures
Switchgear
Equipment (sort of a miscellaneous)
Fire Alarm
Communications
Grounding
Demolition
Motor Connections

Once you make the changes, they will show up in the next new job.

These phases can be changed in a job as needed for the project. For instance, if I had a big cable tray system, I would add it to the phase tree in the job. This can be done in the menu Takeoff, Phase Tree/Job Spec.
 

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Sparkie2010,
Do you roll every circuit and run or do you use the "average" system? Conest is more set up for the average system, which I do not use. Makes it a bit more pain in the rear end to use.
 

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Chief,

Great Thread!

I have been modifying my phase tree since the second week of using it eight years ago. I have added the other levels for further organization when needed. Really pays off when you have to figure a deduct and decide what you are giving back:laughing: You just have to hope you covered it in the first place:laughing:
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
I like the way it looks.

My question is, how can I speed up a take off. Is there a method that has worked for you or do you recommend taking off item by item and foot per foot?

Thank you
The way I was trained, you can not speed up takeoff. There are shortcut methods, but they make me uncomfortable. Sometimes it works if you have great historical data on the same repetetive work, I do not like things like averaging branch or unit prices. I used to use unit prices when I was estimating a lot of high rise tenant work, but that was the only time I did.

See the response to BDB's post for more on averaging.

A way to speed up input to Intellibid may be here. ConEst has announced version 4 of Surecount, the digital takeoff program. I have not liked earlier versions of this program. I found it clunky and lacking in features and refinement. ConEst listened to input from me and many other estimators and promised to add many of the features and usability requests we made.

The single biggist improvement is automatic direct input from Surecount right to the Intellibid audit trail. I have played with this feature. When creating a takeoff item in Surecount, you click a button and the Intellibid Library pops up in Surecount. Select the item or assembly you are taking of and select the phase it goes in. When you are done with the entire takeoff, a couple of clicks exports the takeoff to Intellibid. I will let you know what I think after I have tested it. If anyone here has played with it, let know what you think.
 

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Senior Estimator
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Sparkie2010,
Do you roll every circuit and run or do you use the "average" system? Conest is more set up for the average system, which I do not use. Makes it a bit more pain in the rear end to use.
I was trained on the west coast by NECA contractors and in NECA classes. We were trained to roll the branch. A little while after I started my consulting company, I started getting east coast work. I was floored! The branch was not designed! How the hell am I supposed to roll it? I made quite a few unkind comments about lazy engineers, which I had to take back after talking to the owner of ConEst. He told me that this is the way it is done in the east. The branch is not designed. Estimating is done by the averaging method.

Because of my training, I am still more comfortable with rolling the branch, but use averaging when I have to. The Intellibid database was designed with averaging in mind, and includes conduit in most fixture and outlet assemblies. There are fixture assemblies without branch. As you said, this is sort of a pain. Even if you put zero in for the conduit length per outlet, the program still puts several lines of conduit and fittings on the audit trail. It takes a highlight and two clicks to get rid of it, which is extra work.

However, ConEst has been listening. The new version seven database has outlets with no branch. They are not complete yet, but should be finished soon.
 

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Yes I agree, there is no short cut and it does scare me to make a mistake on my pocket.

My experience came from the big residential boom and bidding all kinds of homes from cookie cutters to custom.

I also did some design work in commercial and industrial. I feel very confident when it comes to take off.

I just would like to save more time when estimating. Get more out the door and drive my supply house crazy.

I don't use sure count, I am still working with vu360.

One side note: I feel that a lot of electricians are improperly bidding. I keep good communication with GC and get to see the winning numbers. What I notice is that they are not either using the right tools or don't know what there doing.

So I can't compete with ignorance.

It said to see but it's true.
 

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the way i was trained, you can not speed up takeoff. There are shortcut methods, but they make me uncomfortable. Sometimes it works if you have great historical data on the same repetetive work, i do not like things like averaging branch or unit prices. I used to use unit prices when i was estimating a lot of high rise tenant work, but that was the only time i did.

See the response to bdb's post for more on averaging.

A way to speed up input to intellibid may be here. Conest has announced version 4 of surecount, the digital takeoff program. I have not liked earlier versions of this program. I found it clunky and lacking in features and refinement. Conest listened to input from me and many other estimators and promised to add many of the features and usability requests we made.

The single biggist improvement is automatic direct input from surecount right to the intellibid audit trail. I have played with this feature. When creating a takeoff item in surecount, you click a button and the intellibid library pops up in surecount. Select the item or assembly you are taking of and select the phase it goes in. When you are done with the entire takeoff, a couple of clicks exports the takeoff to intellibid. I will let you know what i think after i have tested it. If anyone here has played with it, let know what you think.
i have used the direct takeoff already in sure count. It is a huge improvement from bringing the counts into the count sheets. The direct takeoff has already saved me hours upon hours of work. It still has a few quirks, but conest is willing to listen and fix it. The direct takeoff is a huge improvement
 
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