Wendes HVAC Estimating Blog

Successful Estimating Principles

Posted by joseph damelio on Tue, Oct 8, 2013

Estimating Basics



We are covering some of the basic estimating principles detailed in a manual written by Herb Wendes, " Everything You Wanted To Know About Estimating But Were Afraid To Ask." The updated and expanded version of the original manual is now published by Fairmont Press, Inc. "Mechanical Estimating Manual".

Successful contracting is built on a foundation of accurate labor and material estimates with valid markups for overhead and profit. Bids should include direct costs for labor, materials, equipment, subcontractors, indirect overhead costs as well as a provision for profit. The primary goal of the estimate is to cover all costs for a project as they are likely to to occur and meet acceptable plan, specifications and performance criteria. Allowances for indirect overhead costs for the year should be allocated on a proportionate basis for each project. Allocation of indirect costs are easily overlooked when considering the multitude of direct labor, material costs, special conditions and specifications for a project. 

As much as possible allow enough time to properly prepare the estimate, most errors are experienced due to rushing, pressures of unforseen interruptions, omissions,inaccurate takeoffs and not having adequate time to clarify plan and specification errors. In many cases a contractor is forced to bid selectively in order to avoid mistakes. In the long run it is better to select projects that have the potential for profit and provide value to the client.

The introduction of specialized HVAC Estimating Software has provided estimators with a valuable tool in preparing accurate and detailed estimates. Software Advice has released a recent survey that considers and evaluates some of these benefits. The link below will lead you to the survey. 



Topics: Choosing the Best HVAC Estimating Software, HVAC Etimating Software, Accurate HVAC Sheet Metal Labor Software

How to avoid the Top 10 Estimating Mistakes

Posted by joseph damelio on Tue, Jul 2, 2013


HVAC Estimating Software

Improve Success and Reduce Risk By Avoiding The Top 10 Estimating Mistakes.

Please take a minute to share your experience with the estimating process by highlighting the link included at the bottom. 

1. Understand the full scope of the entire project at hand. Take a global look at all of the specifications, conditions and engineering requirements for a project. It is a common practice to become myopic when viewing project details. Specialized conditions and overall project engineering requirements can be easy missed.

2. Avoid last minute changes in an estimate resulting from missed line items and project details. Often errors result from cutting and pasting specification line and adjusting formulas in the middle of a project. Maintain consistent labor and material formulas when bidding a project and attempt to use consistent material and assembly libraries.

3. Use outside resources such as national material pricing services and association standards to verify pricing and best industry practices.

4. Rely on a sound basis for labor or material cost. Underestimating labor and materials results in loosing money, overestimating looses the bid. Avoid appling a standard hourly labor rate across the board per employee. Understanding the composition of crews, management
resources and senior employees required for the project is important in determining accurate labor cost. Estblish a credable basis for individual labor.

5. Avoid using a straight line profit margin for all aspects of a project. Calculate a percentage of labor and percentage of materials is required for each portion of the project ,the mix will likely change with various portions of the project.

6. Choose projects that will produce the margins you need to operate your business profitably. Keeping crews busy at the expense of overall profit margin can result in unaticpated year end losses.

7. Focus the greatest level of detail and attention to areas of the project likely to contribute the greatest level of labor and material cost for the project.

8. Avoid entering labor and material cost in a spreadsheet without adjusting for individual factors such as project risk, and job scope. An algorythym that captures these variations is more accurate.

9. Look at job history in detail to determine project risk and alert you to common elements that may have contributed to profit or loss. Experience is a great teacher.

10. Evaluate all aspects of the project change factors to reflect the correct labor and material classifications as the estimate is prepared.

Please take a minute to share your experience with the estimating process by completing the survey below.    


Topics: HVAC Estimating Software, HVAC Estimating, Wendes Estimating, Accurate HVAC Estimating

Choosing The Best HVAC Plumbing Estimating Software

Posted by joseph damelio on Fri, Apr 6, 2012

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 Choosing the best HVAC Mechanical Estimating Software should start by evaluating these basic features as they pertain to your business: Size of the estimating software database, Number of estimating assemblies, Labor tables provided, Material pricing, Number of estimating reports, Integration with other construction software and Customization ability. Every company is unique and has varied requirements so the importance of every feature will depend on individual need. All systems should provide ease-of-use and a rapid return on investment.

 Start the evaluation process by comparing projects that you are familiar with and have estimated by hand or with a spreadsheet vs. results produced by the HVAC Estimating Software you are considering. The bast way to accomplish this comparison is to "Perform A Detailed Takeoff With A Vendors Software System". Ask prospective vendors for "Trial Software and Training" before you purchase, evaluate performance and Ease-of-use based on real projects. Trial software will provide hands-on experience with estimating results. By conducting a trial evaluation you will have an opportunity to evaluate the responsiveness and quality of the prospective vendors technical support infrastructure. Solicit references from other respected industry users to determine the integrity and reputation of the prospective vendor before you purchase. 

Estimating is the cornerstone of every companies success, it provides the up front information for determing risk and gauging future profit. Information gathered during detailed estimating may be tracked at every phase of the construction project.  

Topics: Choosing the Best HVAC Estimating Software, Choosing HVAC Plumbing Software, HVAC TRIAL Estimating Software

HVAC Estimating Takeoff Software

Posted by joseph damelio on Wed, Oct 5, 2011

HVAC Estimating Software Screen Takeoff

HVAC Sheet Metal and HVAC Mechanical Estimating Software has seen many productivity advancements with the introduction of improved software tools designed to make the estimating  process easier-to-use. 

On-Screen Takeoff is one of the newest estimating takeoff tools since the introduction of the electronic digitizing board. On-Screen takeoff technology allows digital drawing files to be easily imported from digital drawing files and viewed on your estimating software desktop to quickly strip information without the need of paper drawings. After the on-screen takeoff is completed all the information is aligned in your estimating software with labor and material quantities. Detailed estimating bid management reports are generated with detailed information of the items in the takeoff.  

Wendes Estimating Software provides accurate pre-loaded shop and field labor, fitting tables, accessory items and equipment for all phases of HVAC Sheet Metal,Piping,Plumbing and Mechanical estimating. The pre loaded information provided with the Wendes HVAC Estimating Software facilitates the estimators learning curve and implementation of estimating software. Pre loaded labor and material information included in the Wendes HVAC i software is based on detailed labor studies that were conducted over a twenty five year period by founder Herb Wendes P.E. The labor studies were based on detailed per piece labor methodology   which accounted for every detail of shop fabrication and field installation. The labor data and estimating methodology was originally included in a widely circulated estimating instructional manual used to instruct estimators, project managers and HVAC professionals The information and formulas for calculating labor and materials is now contained in Wendes Estimating Software.      

Topics: HVAC Estimating Software, HVAC Piping Estimating Software, Labor Cost Estimating Software, Estimating Software

BIM and HVAC Estimating Software

Posted by joseph damelio on Tue, Oct 4, 2011

BIM and HVAC Estimating SoftwareBIM -Building Information Modeling Is a computer aided process for developing building data during the construction design and building life cycle. BIM software contains elements of a building design as individual objects that include the geometry and attributes in the building design. BIM software design tools provide the ability to extract many different views of an object in a building model that may be relevant for other uses in the drawing process or downstream construction process.

 BIM software deploys three dimensional real time modeling software tools to increase productivity in building design and construction.Most BIM software includes detailed  attributes of the building geometry,spatial relationships of objects, object quantities, object properties and building components which eliminate uncertainty about detailed elements of the building design during the construction phase.

BIM software provides a "parametric definition" which describes each object and relationship of each object to other objects, as one object is changed other objects will change as well. The connectivity of objects insures that the integrity of the building design is not corrupted as changes are made.

To learn more about BIM and MEP Software contact Autodesk, a leading provider of software in this field. Wendes Systems is working closely with BIM software providers to intigrate HVAC Sheet and Mechanical estimating with BIM and MEP software in order to produce better results.      



Topics: BIM Software and HVAC Estimating Software, Accurate HVAC Sheet Metal Labor Software

HVAC Estimating Software Streamlines Workflow with Screen Takeoff

Posted by joseph damelio on Tue, Oct 4, 2011

HVAC Estimating Takeoff Software




New technology in HVAC Estimating Software for On-Screen Takeoff has enabled estimators to streamline the bidding process and collaborate on projects. It has helped in creating a paperless environment with greater access to project history.  Wendes HVAC Estimating Software and Screen Takeoff is further enhanced with BlueBeam Revu PDF file conversion, Markup and drawing overlay. As drawing files are modified throughout the construction process it becomes essential to track projects and capture changes as they occur. BlueBeam Software allows the entire team to access and share drawing files to Markup changes and overlay modifications to highlight the changes in systems on the fly. Change orders may be calculated and displayed in alternate colors to visually display differences.     

On-Screen HVAC Estimating takeoff software eliminates the need for paper drawings by converting digital drawing files for on screen viewing and marking. The estimator is able to takeoff linear duct and pipe, fitting quantities, accessories, components, mark and color drawings, scale drawing, takeoff multiple pages of a drawing file and view specific floors, areas with a click of a computer mouse. On-Screen Takeoff provides an easy to use template and Screen Icons that perform all of the functions that would ordinarily be used with Digitizer Paper Takeoff.

All of the information gathered during On-Screen Takeoff is included in the HVAC Estimating Software and provides detailed takeoff data containing; Linear Duct/Pipe quantities, DUCT/Pipe Fitting quntities, Accessory Items, Labor Calculations, Material Quantities, Material Pricing and extensive detailed management concerning the systems takeoff.        

On-Screen Takeoff viewing is provided on a single monitor or dual monitor. In most cases one monitor displays takeoff information, templates and icons and the second monitor is used for display of the elctronic drawing file. After completion of an On-Screen Takeoff markings and other information concerning the takeoff is preserved in an electronic file for future reference.  

To learn more about the many advantages and productivity gains with On-Screen HVAC Estimating Takeoff Software contat Wendes Systems for a web presentation and download a free trial of BlueBeam Software.







Topics: Estimating Screen Takeoff Software, Duct Estimating Software

HVAC Estimating Software

Posted by joseph damelio on Fri, Sep 23, 2011

HVAC Sheet Metal Estimating Software 

Estimating is described as the process of approximating unknown parameters using measured and empirical data that has a random component. In the case of HVAC Estimating Software as it is relates to HVAC Sheet Metal Estimating, HVAC Mechanical Estimating and HVAC Piping Estimating the objective is to accurately calculate labor and materials based on measurable project specifications. The random component in estimating a project accurately involves detailing the many specifications for a project and applying the appropriate labor and material component.

HVAC Estimating Software attempts to capture all of the specifications in a project and apply   the measured labor and material component to the specifications. The formulas embed in the HVAC Estimating Software   calculate the labor and materials for every component  of the project specifications. HVAC Estimating Software providers have taken various approaches to accomplishing this task. As an example, Wendes HVAC Estimating Software applies labor and material calculations based on a per piece method of fabrication for HVAC Sheet Metal Estimating and unit calculation for HVAC Piping Estimating. The Per Piece and unit methodology break down the labor and material component into the smallest variable and provide  detailed information for each. Project Specifications are detailed in the software prior to estimating in order to provide a detailed calculation for the labor and material component. HVAC Estimating Software will also account for many prefernces  and conditions that are required in a project specification. Other factors such as uniques processes that are employed by the HVAC contractor are also considered.  HVAC Estimating Software is an accurate and effective tool in calculating the many specifications,methods and conditions used in fabricating complicated HVAC Ductwork systems used in commercial HVAC heating, cooling and ventilating systems.  A similar estimating process for calculating labor and materials may be applied to manual estimating with spreadsheets , however, capturing the many variations in specifications and conditions is complex and time consuming.        

Estimating is the cornerstone for the success of any company attempting to bid projects accurately and competitively. 

Topics: HVAC Estimating Software, HVAC Piping Estimating Software, HVAC Ductwork Estimating Software, HVAC Sheet Metal Estimating Software, HVAC Plumbing Estimating Software, HVAC Labor Cost Estimating Software

Evaluating HVAC Sheet Metal Estimating Software

Posted by joseph damelio on Wed, Sep 21, 2011

HVAC Estimating Software 

Evaluating HVAC Estimating Software can be a difficult process. We recognize that every company has unique requirements in selecting the correct estimating software for their business. "Trial Estimating Software"  may help you to evaluate the best solution for your company.

Trial Estimating Software will allow you to deploy the application on projects that you bid and help you experience "real world" results.

 Begin the evaluation process by detrmining the most important features required for your company. Create a quick punchlist of features that you need to help sreamline your estimating process. Select reputable software providers for a presentation and direct the process by selecting the features that are meaningful to you. After selecting a prospective software provider request a "Full Use Software Trial Evaluation" before you make a purchase, this evaluation will validate the software performance and features you need.  The trial evaluation will provide hands on performance and an opportunity to experience the quality of training and technical support provided by the supplier. If you select reputable software providers they should be interested in long term relationships with their clients. 

Choosing the correct HVAC Estimating Software application is a long term committment and financial investment that is vital to the success of your company. Producing accurate and competitive labor and material estimates is the cornerstone for the success of every company engaged in bidding construction projects.       


Topics: HVAC Estimating Software, HVAC Piping Estimating Software, HVAC Ductwork Estimating Software, Labor Cost Estimating Software, HVAC Sheet Metal Estimating Software, HVAC Plumbing Estimating Software, Duct Estimating Software

HVAC Estimating Software

Posted by joseph damelio on Tue, Sep 20, 2011

HVAC Sheet Metal Estimating 

HVAC Estimating Software is a vital tool for your company's success by helping to provide accurate and competitive labor and material estimates faster than traditional manual methods. The industry reports that the typical productivity gain using HVAC Estimating Software vs. manual methods is about three or four to one. In other words, an estimator armed with HVAC Sheet Metal or Piping Estimating Software can produce accurate and competitive estimates four times faster than an estimator performing estimates by hand. Productivity gains are only half the story when comparing methods. There are also other important factors such as  the ability to produce extensive detailed reports with each takeoff, conduct "what if calculations", quickly track "change orders" and modify an estimate when the scope of a project changes. Wendes software allows estimators to convert system and material types without re-entering information.

HVAC estimating software contains an extensive and detailed database of labor cost and material cost information. National Pricing services are included for mechanical estimating that that provide accurate national commodity pricing. Wendes systems labor database is derived from extensive per piece labor studies which were conducted over a twenty year period by founder Herb Wendes. The labor cost and material cost database contained in the HVAC estimating software may be adjusted to meet the unique methods and conditions of project specifications and practices employed by the HVAC Contractor. Factors such as regional labor rates and methodology are adjusted to produce highly accurate and detailed estimates for every region.  

HVAC Estimating Software will contribute to a paperless workflow by producing a software based database for every project, information  is easy to archive and retrieve. The software database provides an historical profile for projects with information concerning labor, materials,  job scope which is recorded in the software for every project takeoff. New technology in "On Screen Takeoff" now allows estimators to "takeoff projects" on the computer screen without the need for paper drawings or electronic digitizing boards. Digital drawing files may be viewed on-screen for takeoff and passed on to others coordinating a project.

To learn more about HVAC Estimating Software contact Wendes Systems, Inc. for a free consultation, presentation and "Bid Your Next Project On-Line" with the assistance of an experienced Wendes consultant. Whatever method you choose; Fast, Accurate and Competitive labor and material cost estimates are vital to your company's success.                  

Topics: HVAC Estimating Software, HVAC Piping Estimating Software, HVAC Sheet Metal Estimating Software

Is It Time to Convert From Microsoft Excel Spreadsheets ?

Posted by joseph damelio on Tue, May 11, 2010

 Is it time to convert from Microsoft Excel even though it is producing acceptable estimating spreadsheets? Here are a few questions to ask to detrmine if it may be time for your company to consider the benefits of specialized HVAC Sheet Metal or Piping estimating software.

  • Are you dedicating too many  hours training new estimators how to use your custom spreadsheets accurately and efficiently?
  • Are your competitors underbidding on projects because your material prices or labor hour costs are consistently too high ?
  • Are your competitors providing more professionial bids itemized in greater detail?
  • Are you having difficulty updating estimates and producing change orders with a detailed paper trail?
  • Are you finding it difficult to spend enough time to bid on projects and missing opportunities to grow your business?
  • Are your bid reports and summaries detailed sufficiently to analyze during a project?
  • Are you building a detailed database of labor and material cost on every project? 

Wendes Estimating Consultants will help you determine if specialized HVAC Sheet Metal or Piping Estimating Software is right for you company. A sample takeoff will help you better understand what is involved in setting up an estimating software system and how difficult it will be to learn.Determine if this is the right time to convert from Microsoft Excel Spreadsheets and choose the right specialized estimating system for your company

Topics: converting your HVAC Estimating from Excel spreads, choosing the right HVAC estimating software, how to evaluate HVAC Estiamting software