Barrett Roofing is a roofing subcontractor in Danbury Connecticut. They provide roofing services in Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New York State and New Jersey. In addition to roofing they install architectural sheet metal and do other specialty work. Most of their work is commercial, industrial or institutional with projects ranging from thousands of dollars to millions. In business for over seventy years they have fifty to seventy five employees. They do both negotiated and competitive bid work. We recently spoke with one of their estimators, Brent Goren.
With degrees in HVAC and Mechanical Engineering, Brent came to estimating through working in facilities management. He came to Barrett just a few months ago, shortly after they had adopted eTakeoff. Brent works entirely from electronic plans. He said he “hadn’t seen paper plans for estimating in a long time”. Most estimating is done using Excel. They have different spreadsheet templates for the many different roofing systems they work with.
Brent uses the Premier version of eTakeoff. Given how recently he started using eTakeoff, his knowledge and extensive use of eTakeoff is astounding. He uses extensions, the quantity worksheet, bid codes and Excel integration. Even for measuring Brent is a power user. He uses shortcut keys for disconnected points and arcs. He also uses polar mode to snap points to right-angles. He uses lots of dimension and highlight annotations.
He floats the Control Panel outside the Main Window. He usually displays the Quantity List control and the Measurement Edit Control. The measurement edit control allows him to enter an exact distance for the last digitized leg or the last arc radius. He makes limited use of Layers. He usually leaves all layers visible when doing takeoff. He hides layers when printing or when drawings are especially “busy”.
Extensions are a critical tool for Brent. Much of his takeoff requires adjusting the digitized length or area by a slope factor or rise and run. He’s developed extensions to calculate hip and valley lengths. We worked with him to develop an extension that calculated the surface area of a dome based on the digitized circumference and an entered height.
The Quantity Worksheet is another important tool. It allows different measurements to be combined in different ways. Brent’s roofing quantities frequently require combining measurements taken from plan views with measurements from elevations. For example, flashing runs are found primarily on the plan view. But there are frequently vertical parts of the run that are on the elevations. In this environment it’s important to make sure all these different measurements are properly assigned to the quantity worksheet. To check this, Brent sorts the Measurement List by the “#Asn” column. (This is the number of different quantity worksheet items each measurement is assigned to.) The unassigned measurements (with a count of zero) show up in the top of the list. We explained how he could also use “Audit Mode” on the Quantity Worksheet. In this mode, as you navigate from item to item in the quantity worksheet, only the measurements assigned to that item (or one of its descendants) are displayed. That makes it easy to spot omissions.
Brent is currently using simple Excel integration by dragging measurement links to Excel. But he’s working to switch to using Bid Codes. With bid codes, an Excel cell can be linked to the total quantity of the measurements with a given bid code. Once the Excel template is set up, you no longer need to drag and drop individual measurements (or quantity worksheet items). Simply connect the spreadsheet to the eTakeoff project and the bid code totals are calculated automatically.
Brent tried using Issues but thought it was too much work to create the issue then connect it to the desired measurement or annotation. We explained how he could do this in one step by right-clicking on the measurement and selecting “Create an Issue…” He thinks that will work well. Reviewing a list of issues is easier than going through all the drawings looking for bold-colored annotations.
We asked Brent what new features he’d like to see. It said he’d love to be able to compare the quantity worksheets for similar projects. We described the Quantity Comparison feature released in eTakeoff 3.2. He said that might be helpful but that quantity worksheet comparison would be even better.
Brent spoke to us just days after Hurricane Sandy had decimated the Northeast. He was still dealing with power outages and flood damage. And needless to say there are a lot of roof repair estimating to be done. We really appreciate that he made time for us at such a hectic and trying moment.