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I have been reading through a lot of different posts regarding estimation software. In most of the threads, people mentioned customizing a database based on personal experience. I would really like to have a way to record data through different phases of the job and be able to use it for estimating future projects. I really have no idea where to start. It seems like an overwhelming task to say the least. I would like input from people that have any experience with recording, storing, and re-using data. The only database program I have heard of is Microsoft Access. What other programs are there? Is there a book or website that would lend valuable insight on this topic?

Thanks
 

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Your options are either to buy a customized solution or develop one on your own. Access could be used as a database to store your common assemblies/items, but to avoid double entry into your estimating system you would need to integrate them. Unfortunately I know of no easy way to do this without writing custom code.

Most construction software packages that offer estimating will do what you ask. Ours stores all of the items you create throughout projects in a central database so they can be reused later, with the bonus of being able to be sent to QuickBooks.

If you have stringent estimating requirements and don't want to adopt a new system you'll want to look into a custom solution. Otherwise shop for existing construction software.
 

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Are you trying to save money by writing your own application?

Writing a MS Access application for construction estimating can be a monumental task and probably not worth your time if you are not a programmer.

I worked at EDS and we were contracted to build a MS Access application for some oil company. Not as involved as estimating. I think the initial quote was $90k.

I think there are commercial off the shelf applications that would suite your purpose. You may have to stomach paying for it but you probably won't be spending the next 2-3 years developing something that most likely would be out of date when you are done.
 

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I worked at EDS and we were contracted to build a MS Access application for some oil company. Not as involved as estimating. I think the initial quote was $90k.

\
EDS would charge you $50K for writing a database to record toilet paper consumption. LOL

But you are correct, designing a DB in Access or any other relational DB for something as complex as estimation and production is a non-trivial task for a competent programmer. If you want to use a flat database program, much easier but also a lot of compromises in functionality.

I put over 300 man hours into customizing ACT! for contact management, material and crew ordering/scheduling and invoicing. We primarily due insurance work and therefore use Xactimate for estimation. I am working on adding an estimation tab to ACT! for cash bids.
 

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I think this poster is fake.
Really? And what possible evidence or justification would you have for talking out of your rear end like that?

In a previous career, I worked extensively with EDS when they were part of Hughes Delco Electronics and sold well over a million dollars in software and services to them.

If you'd like to bet $5000 on the validity of the ACT! database I custom developed, I'd be happy to provide a demo for you or anyone of your choosing that meets your approval to qualify it.

Unless you have some solid evidence or facts to support an allegation, in the future, you really should just keep your mouth shut.
 

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Do a search on "HCSS" or "Heavy Bid" or "Heavy Job." These guys have spent the last two decades writing and perfecting estimating / job cost software. They have several price points and performance points from which to choose. And as your needs grow, you can upgrade to more feartures without loosing your data entry investment. And there software user support is world-class.
 

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to go low budget, you might consider excel. Initially you would want to track every phase of each job. So for example, a bath remodel; create daily reports that track working conditions, hot, cold, raining, the members of the crew and the items of work they performed (take these from your estimate). Track how long and how many men for demo, tile, etc... Overtime you will be able to determine how much it actually costs your company to perform items of work.

You probably know this though and want to know how to go about the database. Once you know the real burden/cost of each item you could then set up an excel workbook main sheet would be you estimate template with additional sheets for your costbooks. Using excel formulas you could link data and automate calculations. I had to make a similar excel workbook to reconcile a time and materials job gone bad:-( not very fun. Check out this link, it seems to explain it better than I have. http://www.nahbexpos.com/Documents/course_handouts/2008_Estimating%20With%20Microsoft%20Excel.pdf

Working with databases is not that hard but as the other posters said it takes a lot of time and can be very frustrating. Most website hosting services include database support within their cpanel which would allow you to host your own database online. Do a google search for mysql, apache and ruby on rails and cpanel.

I hope this helped, I'm very much a diy'er and the guys had to ban me from the shop because i thought i could build a much better cyclone dust collection system than anyone could ever sell me:) so please take my encouragement with a grain of salt! I would have a lot more spare time if I didn't always try to reinvent the wheel so to speak.
 
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