Construction Management

Construction Estimating: 4 Winning Tips to Improve 

In an era of rising costs and new technology, here’s how to bring more accuracy to construction estimating. 

When it comes time to kick off a new construction job, an accurate estimate is the first step toward project success. The best approach to the construction estimating process begins with a thorough understanding of the project, along with a team of estimators who are deeply familiar with the nuances of quality construction estimating. For contractors and business owners, this stage of the project can have a pronounced impact on your bottom line. According to a survey conducted by QuickBooks and TSheets, one in four construction companies would go out of business if they made just two or three inaccurate estimates.

As a resource, here are a few tools that will guide your team toward a successful construction estimating process, creating opportunities for new business and exceptional client relationships.


What is a Construction Estimate?

While construction estimates are hardly always accurate to the cent, successful projects start with accurate and detailed estimation efforts. If not, there can be ethical and even legal risks. For instance, in March, the SEC launched a federal probe into two leading construction contractors to uncover why their estimates were inaccurate.

The initial construction estimating process for large-scale projects usually begins with a specific team, known as estimators. They estimate the project by gathering proposals, plans, specifications, and related documents.

Overall, an estimate is the total price of the project, which includes all expenses, like materials and labor. It’s also important to note that there’s a common misconception around the definition of a bid vs. an estimate. A bid is a finalized offer in order for the construction project to proceed. In a bid, a contractor often specifies a construction price and project timeline. Usually, an accurate estimate is set before you place a bid.


The Cost Estimating Process and Terms to Know

Similar to the estimate vs. bid distinction, there are several terms to understand and keep in mind throughout the estimation process. In construction, these nuances are important to not only explain your approach to the client, but to speak internally with vendors, partners, and others in the industry. Simply put, speaking the “same language” can help minimize confusion and mistakes.

First, there’s a quantity takeoff. This is when the cost estimator accurately identifies and develops the required materials for the project. This step is crucial, as without an accurate takeoff, there will be inaccuracies in the project. Next, the estimator will use their experience to estimate the labor hours required to complete the project. A key factor in determining the labor hours is correctly identifying the relevant labor rates, which are the basic wages for all team members. The cost estimator will also consider overtime work and extra hours.

As the estimation process progresses, the team will begin to collect material prices and equipment costs. Both of these vary significantly, as the cost of a given material fluctuates greatly depending on market demand and supply, the quantity needed, the cost of transportation to the building site, and exchange rates. More importantly, the cost of equipment will include the capacity of the equipment and the cost differential if the equipment needs to be rented. In the unprecedented time of COVID-19, as shipping and logistical operations are delayed, this has become imperative to uncover and represent factually.

The estimator will also gather all subcontractor costs, including the price of the labor, materials, and equipment required by additional specialty contractors on the project. Lastly, to ensure all costs are covered in an accurate estimate, indirect costs need to be considered. This can include temporary on-site utilities, land acquisition, design fees, and office support.


4 Ways to Improve Accuracy in Construction Estimating

As technology continues to guide the latest and greatest in construction, the process of construction estimating has drastically improved due to more innovative tech platforms.

1. Embrace the cloud

One key industry innovation is the cloud-based estimation tool. This allows an estimator to utilize a 2D or even 3D model to predict the needs of a construction project. The cloud-based approach provides more accuracy by uncovering the true engineering needs of a project. This accuracy, in turn, offers the client a fuller picture of the estimation, and gives the estimation team a helpful tool to better present the construction job.

Another cloud-based approach involves executing a takeoff within the cloud for an estimation. Integrating the takeoff into the cloud allows for more security and collaboration among team members. It also eliminates the headaches of using license-based tools.

In addition, you can implement company-wide data standards by setting up project templates in the cloud that include takeoff types and classification systems. All of which enables consistency across your teams and project data.

And lastly, when estimators have access to the right information at the right time—i.e. centralized in the cloud—they’re capable of generating a competitive bid. Leveraging a cloud-based document management system for your quantification workflows helps ensure that all your estimators are working from the latest issued drawings and models. A major benefit there is that they are not missing critical information to create a competitive estimate.

2. Turn to automation 

A truly innovative approach to estimation is known as the automated approach to a takeoff. When takeoffs are automated, estimators are freed up from the tedious task of manually counting supplies. They can easily visualize quantities in 3D to understand scope, complexity, and design intent. For example, one company was able to leverage a 3D model to get the correct number of doors needed for a project in a matter of minutes—a process that would have taken them over a day using a 2D drawing.

Automation as a tool is key in the preconstruction phase, as it allows a contractor to jumpstart the launch of a new job seamlessly, without getting bogged down by the nuances of an ordinary takeoff.

More and more, automation is offering firms a competitive advantage. They’re able to work faster and take on jobs that may have BIM requirements they weren’t able to meet in the past. In other words, automation allows contractors to access a whole new set of customers. And with the time-savings you get from automation, you can bid on more jobs and win more work.

3. Collaborate early

Teamwork is an essential first step in construction estimating, and this process fails if there’s not a culture of transparency and collaboration between the contractor, client, and estimator. Justin Davis, Executive Vice President of Preconstruction, Estimating, and Business Development at Walker Engineering explains the importance of collaboration during the estimation process this way: “Customers expect and trust [contractors] to fill in all the gaps, make sure that they’ve got their costs covered, and make sure that when we sit in a room, there’s transparency.”

Allowing teams to manipulate data and have visibility into scope removes oversight or double-ups on takeoffs. This is best accomplished in cloud-based takeoffs where data is centralized. With streamlined teamwork as a top priority, the goal should be to make estimating a collaborative process.

4. Leverage connected data

Lastly, the advent of data connectivity is the cornerstone to improving the accuracy of your construction estimate. When data lives in silos, information can get lost, which increases the likelihood of inaccurate estimating. More importantly, centralized data and information ensures more accuracy and facilitates a seamless transition from one project phase to the next.

It is truly a new era in creating an accurate and reliable construction estimate—contractors and business owners just need to understand the technology and platforms available at their fingertips.

Making the Most of your Construction Estimate

In construction, there’s nothing more important than delivering a quality, outstanding project that exceeds the expectations of your clients. This all begins with the estimate. And to build your estimate, you’ll need to identify the right quantities with an accurate takeoff. Your quantities, of course, will affect both cost and schedule, which will also be reflected in your estimate.

As the industry continues innovating, there are several resources to make your estimation process more accurate and helpful for your clients. Most importantly, an accurate estimate helps maintain your bottom line, as mistakes can be costly and sour reputations for future projects.

Looking to save time during estimating? Bid Board Pro saves the average estimator 8 hours per week by eliminating manual entry and consolidating everything needed to manage bids in one, easy-to-access place.Learn more. 

The post Construction Estimating: 4 Winning Tips to Improve  appeared first on Digital Builder.

Construction Management

The Future of Work is Now: Is the Construction Industry Ready?

In early 2021 Deloitte was commissioned by the Autodesk Foundation to help identify the labour markets most vulnerable to technological disruption in the Asia Pacific region. The report, The Future of Work is Now: is APAC Ready? Identifies those most at risk and proposes interventions which can be scaled and adapted to different circumstances across our region.  

The current COVID-19 pandemic, and the challenges it has brought, has accelerated digital trends. Heavy restrictions have been faced in Melbourne and Sydney throughout the year, and this has caused us to consider: 

New models of work throughout the economy Specific to construction, new methods of connecting with each employee and team from the office to onsite across the workforce, and through our supply chainThe demand drivers for more employees; however, there has been a real dichotomy with restricted activities as this has made it hard to find workers


Figure 1: Number of people employed in Australia (‘000s)

Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, Deloitte Access Economics


Figure 2: Job ads index, 100=decade average to Nov-19

Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, Deloitte Access Economics


Considering the last point, finding and retaining skilled workers has been an ongoing concern. The number of job advertisements as reported by the Australian Bureau of Statistics and Deloitte Access Economics have risen highly in all sectors and stayed at high levels, and unemployment is at an all-time low in Australia.


Figure 3: Number of unemployed persons per job vacancy

Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, Deloitte Access Economics


This year we have experienced a dual labour market where some could not work due to restrictions, while some are adjusting to new roles, and many businesses still could not fill vacancies. In October this year, Infrastructure Australia released their Infrastructure Market Capacity report which stated that up to 105,000 well-paid jobs risk being unfilled by 2023 due to global competition for workers.

Infrastructure Australia forecasted a shortage of 70,000 engineers and architects, 15,000 structural and civil trades, and 19,000 Project Managers. This makes the sector one of the hardest hit, with looming skills gaps on public projects across the country, putting more pressure on already-stressed budgets and time frames. This impact has a knock-on effect to other parts of the commercial construction industry as the sector aims to become an industry of first choice for entrants. 


utomation in Construction 

The Future of Work report covers three core components:  

Impacts of automation going beyond likelihood of automation The readiness for automation and how countries are prepared, and  Initiatives to take action as one size does not fit all, particularly across the APAC region

Construction topped the list as the industry most likely to be hardest hit by the coming wave of automation. The industry had the highest proportion of routine, manual tasks, with a high potential for automation. 


Figure 4: Impact Index result by industry


It’s also noted that Australia is the most prepared and second least at-risk country from automation. Its investment in its future workforce is a significant contributor to this result. However, as noted above, the future workforce is still at risk. Continued investment is needed, particularly in upskilling, to stay in this position and help ensure our country remains competitive in the region.


Figure 5: Potential impact of automation and preparedness, by country

To be in the best position to benefit from automation, individuals, businesses, countries and regions need to focus on three key opportunity areas. These are identified as foresight and mindset, skills and learning, and access and inclusion. 



Based on The Future of Work research, there are four key insights about how to address the skills gap: 

While training for highly specialised skills will be essential, it’s more important to shift the skills development focus to foundational, analytic, problem solving, creative and collaborative capabilities that can be transferred from role to role – because the shelf life of specific skills will continue to shrink. The pace of change means workers need to engage in continuous skills upgrades – that’s how they will ensure stability, and it will require them imagining and navigating a very different career path. We must shorten the distance between learning and work, which means embedding learning into the workplace by enabling workers to study new skills and experience different environments. Addressing systemic challenges: government, industry and academia need to work better together to help people get the right skills to fill these open jobs. 


ddressing the skills and capabilities gaps

There are opportunities available that organisations like Autodesk can address with industry to close the gaps identified in the research, taking into account current market conditions. At Autodesk, we approach it with three things in mind: 

What TRAINING can we put in place to allow people to constantly upgrade their skills? What TOOLS help shorten the distance between training and work? And how should private sector, public sector, education institutions, among others, PARTNER to address the systemic challenges in collaboration? 


To support training, Autodesk launched our new learning and credentialing platform at Autodesk University last year. The platform is designed to make training personalised and transformative. Workers can get credentials on their terms and timelines and build personalised learning pathways that help them develop the skills they need. 

Autodesk credentials make learning more accessible, measurable, and relevant for customers. Industry recognised certifications help workers to market their job readiness. Whilst the sector has foundational entry-level qualifications, the opportunity for partnerships that support the business with micro-credentials enables practical courses that can address the needs of the company.   


Autodesk Command Map is designed to watch how you use the Autodesk products, highlight the areas in which you’re proficient and the areas you need to improve on. It also offers benchmarks against industry standards to help you focus in the right areas and to use the tool to its full potential to reap the rewards of the investment.  


This takes many forms and is arguably the most complex because it takes many different parties to address the systemic problems. According to the World Economic Forum, a collaborative effort could reach 77% of all workers that need reskilling – versus just 25% if the private sector were to do this alone.  


The Future of Work is Now 

At Autodesk, we believe that automation technology, including artificial intelligence, will be required to help businesses and society meet the demands of our growing urbanisation and global population. We recognise that technological change will drive transformation – and we are committed to helping companies and their employees adapt and thrive. We believe employees prosper by adopting a mindset of continuous learning, acquiring the most in-demand skills and securing the most fulfilling roles. We are committed to collaborating with employers, the start-up community, the vocational education and training sector, universities and government organisations to advance workforce adaptability, as we invest in solutions and policies that complement employers and employees to adjust in an ever changing environment. 

Autodesk can support you and your organisation. The Future of Work report can be accessed here.


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Construction Management

How Connected Construction Leads to Proactive Planning and Execution

Construction projects have many moving parts, and managing all those different elements is crucial for project success. One wrong piece of information can create a snowball effect and potentially lead to project teams building off the wrong set of plans resulting in schedule delays, cost overruns, and a loss in morale.

One way to ensure that teams are coordinated and working off the latest data set is connected construction. By connecting and integrating workflows and data, information flows seamlessly from one system to the next, ensuring collaboration across stakeholders. At its core, connected construction connects teams, processes, and information from start to finish across the project’s lifecycle.


The Role of Connected Construction in Infrastructure 

Andrew Pangallo, Major Projects Construction Manager with the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) is charged with managing the $2 Billion I-69 Finish Line Corridor project. A once in a generation type project that spans nearly 30 miles and includes 70 bridges. With a grand project such as this, connected construction plays an integral part to ensure that teams can collaborate and work effectively to meet deadlines and produce an exceptional infrastructure asset for the people of Indiana. 

To better understand how Andrew defines connected construction and the value of integrated workflows, we asked, “what does connected construction mean to you?” Andrew shares that not having an efficient, and connected way of sharing data across hundreds of people on one job, leads to wasted time and effort which can negatively impact the project outcome. 


[Video Transcript]

My name is Andrew Pangallo. I’m the Major Projects Construction Manager for the Indiana Department of Transportation.

We’re charged with a very difficult task. To complete the design and construction of this entire corridor, which is 29 miles long, 70 different bridges, in a set time period.

It’s vital that we are proactive in the planning aspect. We’re talking hundreds if not thousands of people all working at once. And in order to do that, everybody needs to know what their role is. They need to be informed. And we need a way to facilitate that.

What connected construction means to me is allowing construction to connect with the different phases of the overall lifecycle. Right now, there’s a drop-off of information, from design to construction to our operations and maintenance and asset management. 

All it takes is one wrong measurement, and you could delay the job by months. We need a better process of collecting that data. 

I’m a big believer in change. You can only get so efficient and productive in your current system, sometimes you need to think what else can I do? That is the only way to move on or progress, is to change the way of doing things.


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Construction Management

Eamon Costello Future-Proofs Its 45-Year-Old Business with Autodesk Build

Eamon Costello is a construction services company based in Tralee, Ireland. For over 45 years, the family-owned business has worked across a wide range of disciplines, from healthcare and education to residential and conservation projects.

The team at Eamon Costello is focused on delivering the highest quality projects at the best value for clients. The company’s longevity is testament to the experience and commitment in the business. However, some of the company processes had become outdated – and the organisation was keen to innovate.

Overcoming inconsistency and onerous forms

Director Paul Lynch explains, “The construction industry is virtually unrecognisable from where it was even in 2000. In Ireland, we’ve seen the introduction of BCAR, and technology has progressed leaps and bounds. We had systems that were fit for purpose when they were initiated, but were laboursome and time-consuming.”

Processes at Eamon Costello were largely paper-based, with staff taking large amounts of time to compare drawings manually and fill in onerous forms. Inconsistency was a major challenge. “Younger people especially had no interest in filling out forms because they took so long, and the standard of information we were getting back could be diabolical.”

In 2019, the company leadership team had a “Eureka moment” and decided to re-evaluate the processes in place across the whole business. It was clear that a modern technology platform was needed to support data management for the long-term. Given Autodesk’s commitment to continuing product innovation, Eamon Costello chose Autodesk Build, a unified construction management software platform for connecting teams, workflows and data.

Future-proofing problematic processes

Eamon Costello introduced Autodesk Build on a pilot project, an €11 million social housing project running across multiple disciplines. “We were keen to find a good meaty project with lots of trade involvement to assess the system against,” Paul explained.

The implementation involved a reassessment of the company’s overall processes, which created some difficulties. “We hadn’t fully anticipated the number of internal challenges that would come to light during the process. It was nothing to do with the Autodesk system, but there were residual challenges that we wanted to solve.”

The pilot project was a learning experience. For example, initially the team planned to convert the existing Word and Excel forms into Smart PDFs, when actually switching straight to the Autodesk format brought more benefits. Now, Eamon Costello has a new folder structure and forms in place and is using the team’s feedback to finalise the system. “Everything will be much more streamlined for the future.”

n intuitive solution for managing information

Eamon Costello is using a wide range of functions on Autodesk Build to share information. The issues management system is already proving very beneficial. “Previously our safety audits were completely paper-based. Now, we can capture live issues on the site and assign them to specific people; that’s a huge benefit for us,” Paul explains.

The team is finding Autodesk Build very intuitive. “We’re working with many people who come from a very low base in terms of their IT capability. However, anyone who has taken the time to follow the tutorials and immerse themselves in the system is completely fine with it. It’s a real endorsement of the platform.”

Experienced members of the team are using Autodesk Build to make their working lives easier. “We have foremen who are in their mid-sixties and aren’t very high tech themselves, but are finding the platform really helpful,” Paul notes. “They can see and tag sheets at the touch of a button. Rather than being locked in an office looking at racks of drawings, they can take their phones out on-site and bring up anything they want. It’s a big achievement.”

Improving efficiency and traceability

Autodesk Build has now been rolled out across Eamon Costello, with five live projects and three more to come shortly. With around thirty users to date, Paul believes that the time-saving has been the biggest benefit so far. Sheet comparisons, for example, had been completed manually, with site managers and engineers taking what were originally hardcopy drawings and comparing them line by line.

“With Autodesk Build, you can take two versions of a drawing and see the changes that have been made instantaneously – without the risk of missing anything, like previous revisions,” Paul explains. “In fifteen minutes, I had trained our office administrator to complete sheet comparisons; it’s invaluable from a site management perspective.”

Traceability across the business has also improved. “Previously it was a huge chore for people to complete checklists and take photos back into the office. Now, documentation and quality checks can be completed digitally, providing us with information in a standardised format. It’s much easier for the team, and we’re benefitting from a higher quality of information and traceability.”

Using digital plans on-site is also beneficial for sustainability. Prior to the introduction of Autodesk Build, Eamon Costello printed 52,473 sheets and 1795m2 of plotted paper over a two-year period. Now, that printing has been completely eliminated on the projects where Autodesk Build is in place, saving paper and energy and creating more environmentally-friendly builds.

Ways of working ready for the future

Introducing Autodesk Build has already helped Eamon Costello to deal with the challenges caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, such as using the platform to host remote site meetings. Having a centralised source of information has also made the business more resilient to unexpected events, such as staff absences.

“There was one project where we lost an engineer, and the site manager was on his own for a week and a half. He said that he probably wouldn’t have coped without Autodesk, but with the platform in place he had the information he needed and could still cover the ground even in the engineer’s absence,” Paul recalls.

As well as supporting the current team, Paul believes that having modern construction software in place will help to attract younger people to the business. “We’re constantly recruiting for all kinds of roles. As soon as we tell them that we use Autodesk, you can see them getting engaged and interested.”

In the year ahead, Paul and the team will focus on making use of even more features on Autodesk Build, including progress tracking, scheduling and assets. The next stage will be to get collaborators, including designers and subcontractors, onto the platform to further improve project processes. “The Autodesk product development team has been hugely responsive to our needs. With a few minor developments, it will be a fantastic solution that will grow with us and help us to keep up with the future of the industry.”

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Construction Management

How Clash Detection Evolved Into Everyone’s Tool

Teams are changing their approach to collaborative design

Over the last several years, we’ve seen a major shift in the ways project teams work together and the requirements that owners put on contractors. Design-Build project delivery, lean methodologies, and joint ventures are at an all-time high, and accelerated by digital adoption from at-home work and the Covid-19 pandemic. In fact, 58% of owners said they’ve used or plan to use design-build, moving away from traditional design-bid-build (FMI).

This could be, in large part, because design-build projects are completed 102% faster than traditional design-bid-build (DBIA). As construction teams move towards an integrated approach, organizations from Architecture-Engineering firms to contractors and trades will need to adapt their processes and adopt standard ways of working to better communicate and coordinate in dynamic environments.


Do the benefits of tech-driven collaboration outweigh the risks?

The fundamentals of construction haven’t changed much over time. Schedule constraints, geometry conflicts, sequencing, safety, and quality will continue to challenge project teams and require the very best from problem-solvers in every organization. Firms that react to industry changes will improve on these fundamentals—helping them to save on unnecessary costs and capture back some time back in their day. Better collaboration across the project lifecycle will pad schedule margins, focus teams on delivering up-front quality, and provide leaders with the provable success history to win the right kind of work for their firm.

As competition for new work increases and governments apply more standards to the construction industry, firms must innovate or risk losing out on the right kind of projects for their portfolio. The challenge comes with “how” firms adapt and what paths they take to improve their delivery metrics. It can’t be enough to purchase the newest technology and call it a day. The real work comes with getting buy-in from project partners and unlocking the contributions from the entire team, from architects and BIM managers to subcontractors. This is especially important in the coordination process.


How clash management has been done historically

Today, much of the pre-coordination meeting work rests on the shoulders of a BIM manager. Models need to be sorted, uploaded, and aggregated. Navisworks is often a tool of choice to navigate models, check for clashes, and assign issues with views. Weekly coordination meetings pull together the shared expertise of the entire project team to assess issues and work together to troubleshoot and resolve issues generated by the BIM manager.

Oftentimes, however, these meetings focus too much on low priority issues—aligning models, resolving simple clashes among teams, and making sure previous decisions were executed correctly. Slow coordination among teams compresses the overall schedule, making clash resolved models more of a luxury in some cases.

Navisworks is one of the most trusted and powerful tools for refining models. Those who know it love it. And there are no indications this level of clash granularity is ever going away. But to keep up with moving deadlines and changing design elements, project teams need to find a hybrid approach to clash management; one where engineers, architects, and trades are taking part in a simplified and continuous model coordination process while the BIM Manager uses their expertise to focus on high value issues.


Clash management is now for everyone, not just BIM managers

It’s not enough to throw a fresh coat of paint on the old way of managing clashes and repackage clash detection for BIM managers. A shift in mindset needs to occur that gets the whole team engaged in clash detection. Fundamentally, teams need to be collaborating throughout the week to identify, resolve, and even prevent issues from the earliest stages of a project. The value in doing so, is a better reputation for quality and timely work, less time spent on non-optimal activities, and more time spent on solving problems before they hit the field.

Clash detection must be simple enough for anyone to use it.

Clash detection then, must be simple enough for anyone to use it. It needs to automate repetitive tasks, reduce the set-up time to near zero, and work in-conjunction with the tools people use every day.

Autodesk BIM Collaborate does just that. Anyone on the project team can set up a coordination space in a common data environment, and when files are added or updated there, they are automatically clashed against the other models. Clashes are automatically grouped by object, property, system name, or type name, giving the clash novice or seasoned expert easy ways to locate types of clashes for clearing. A clash tolerance filter dynamically changes the clash list, reducing the noise and focusing individual users only on larger clashes. Clashes are arranged in a matrix so everyone is aware of the problem areas and BIM managers can focus on specific disciplines or floors.

More on the technical side, project stakeholders using third-party authoring applications for design who also want to see their files aggregated and clashed, can see their work in a multi-model context with intermediary file types like NWC or IFC. These files can be aggregated and clashed alongside RVT and DWG files.

Once a clash has been identified as an issue, it is automatically shared across the entire issue eco-system. If a design lead identifies an issue in BIM Collaborate, BIM managers in Navisworks and engineers in Revit can pick up that issue in either of those tools. The assigned issue is then tracked in each of the products, desktop or web based, throughout the system.

This allows teams to communicate about issues in the tools they use day-to-day. And with a direct link to the web from desktop applications like Revit, design teams can get a quick health check on their work in a multi-model context.

Navisworks users who need to investigate issues to determine next steps can see the highlighted clashes in context to fully understand it. If there’s any ambiguity, they can comment on an issue, which is then available in Revit, other Navisworks applications, Autodesk Docs, Autodesk Build, and Autodesk BIM Collaborate.


Better business for all

With this level of connectivity, multidisciplinary teams can now communicate early and often in one place, using a common data environment as a single source for project files.  Removing the barriers between teams and allowing multiple stakeholders to clear clashes improves design quality and the speed of work done in preconstruction phases. When coordination timelines compress, and they often do, it’s important to have more eyes on the constructability of a project to ensure the quality owners expect and field partners need.

Being adaptable means having the right tools for the right job. And in a world where immediate access to data is a necessary component to achieving positive project outcomes, teams need their tools to connect to a common data environment. When authoring tools, powerful clash tools, simple clash tools, and issues are all connected in one place, the difficulties of a fast-moving design-build project are no longer technological. Organizations can prove their ability to act with innovation and can build a reputation as being collaborative and predictably successful.

If you’d like to learn more about Autodesk BIM Collaborate and what it can do for your business specifically, please contact us for a demo. We’d love to show you around.

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Construction Management

Working In and With 3D Environments to Deliver Better Outcomes for Lomans’ Clients

Lomans are an end-to-end installation company in the Netherlands who work today on the smart buildings and sustainable installations of tomorrow. They have all construction specialities under one roof: electrical engineering, mechanical engineering and smart buildings. Their market extends to all types of buildings and their focus is on the long, and therefore, sustainable term. Lomans are familiar with all phases of the installation process when it comes to construction projects – from the design phase to operations and maintenance keeping a clear vision on implementing sustainable, innovative, and creative solutions. With mechanical, electrical and plumbing specialists in one place, the team at Lomans have experience working on a range of projects extending from distribution locations and offices to residential accommodation.  

Company growth and different ways of working

Lomans have approximately 400 employees with an estimated 250 colleagues working in the field on construction project sites. Over the last few years, the company has seen stronger growth with more and more projects being added to their portfolio. However, this expansion created some issues when it came to managing their day-to-day processes on projects. Bas Spaan, Data and Information Manager for Lomans, says: “With our company growth it soon became clear that there was no standardised approach to the way in which we implemented and used digital solutions on our projects. We have a number of different departments here at Lomans and many of them were working in entirely different ways.”

For Bas, managing project data and ensuring teams had access to the most up-to-date and accurate project information became challenging. “In some cases email became our single source of truth for the project teams at Lomans but this was not at always reliable nor sustainable.”  At a minimum, Bas estimates that most of the project document was saved in at least two different locations – ranging from local network drives to different collaboration platforms and document sharing websites.

Lomans splits their company into customer teams who focus on the end-to-end project delivery processes. Working in this way means all project collaborators engage directly as one group – for example commercial, maintenance, engineering and bid teams, bring the overall construction process together smoothly.  They work on a variety of big and small projects. “Our teams were collectively brought together in a deliberate move to focus more on the outcomes we deliver as opposed to the disciplines we belong to. However, this process showed us even more acutely that we needed better tools to support us to work more collaboratively and started our journey towards digitalisation,” affirms Bas.  

Lomans were already using Revit, one of the design products in Autodesk’s AEC collection, for their 3D modelling and coordination. Bas found that Revit provided data rich models which provided vital project insights, but this important information was not always accessible to everyone on a project.

“With the exception of modellers, the wider team members were completely blind when it came to the insights they needed on our projects.”

—Bas Spaan, Data and Information Manager, Lomans

“So, we needed to find a way to better share important project data in a straightforward way that didn’t add too much time and complexity,” says Bas.

“Prior to implementing Autodesk’s Construction Cloud platform, Lomans worked with several manual processes. We had team members who printed off 3D drawings and worked in a 2D way using 3D information, which was clearly not the vision we wanted for the company,” says Bas. “The process was time consuming and lengthy and, team members couldn’t always be sure they had u accurate and up to date project information. Getting our hands on key project insight was more complex than simply looking at a drawing.”

Choosing the right solution

Over the last few years, Loman’s set out their 2030 future vision to focus on using cloud solutions for their construction project data to collaborate seamlessly internally and externally on projects. The team started using Autodesk Construction Cloud’s BIM 360 platform as their common data environment in 2019.  “Our long-term plan has always been to align and use Autodesk Construction Cloud products so when Autodesk Build was launched, we knew that was the direction we wanted to travel in,” says Bas.

“We know that in the future we’ll be working differently with technology. Soon, the computer will be telling us the best way to work, not the other way round! We have realised that working in a cloud environment is a fundamental element to moving closer to this reality.”

—Bas Spaan, Data and Information Manager, Lomans

“Autodesk’s reputation in the market gives us the assurance we need that they are the right cloud software provider for us,” says Bas. “Seeing the capability of Autodesk’s cloud and the work they’re involved in when it comes to shaping the future of our industry, it was totally clear that this was the right company for us to work with.” For Lomans, other providers offered them an end point solution but not a solution that enabled collaboration between the design, construction, and operation phases of their projects.

Sprinting to standardisation

The team at Lomans began using Autodesk Build in early 2021. They started by rolling out the technology on a team-by-team basis. “We actually started with the least digitalised team at Lomans when it came to the rollout of Autodesk Build,” says Bas. Rather than implement the technology on all projects at once, Bas and the team introduced the technology by adopting a ‘sprint’ methodology. This allowed the team to get familiar using one particular digital workflow or process in depth at a time and then move on to the next process from there. “Rolling out the technology in this way helped to reduce disruption to our current projects and enabled us to learn from the cloud environment and from each other,” says Bas.

All new projects were implemented using Autodesk Build’s cloud environment. The first team to use the technology worked on small retail projects which were usually shorter in length than some of Lomans’s bigger projects. Bas reflects; “We could iteratively use the digital workflows and build our knowledge out bit by bit. We were also able to test some of the more complex workflows like markups and revisions on smaller projects and learn quite quickly about what did and didn’t work.”  

Getting the basics right

By adopting this approach Bas and the team could quickly identify the best practices Lomans wanted to take forward. They started with getting the basics right with document management, then built on workflows like revisions, markups, checklists and issues management. “Using small steps and starting with the basics when it came to document management has meant that we’ve been provided with invaluable learning time,” says Bas.

The team at Lomans now use Autodesk Build for all new construction projects. Project data is structured in a standardised way which means any new team members joining an ongoing construction project know exactly where to go in their common data environment for the relevant information to get up to speed. Bas aims to be able to support construction teams use the permission sharing features when collaborating with external partners. This will remove the risk around data regulations and ensures the internal project team at Lomans can feel confident that the right people have access to the right information at the right time.

“We decided to use Autodesk Build for an annual process we carry out in our retail teams,” says Bas. “This involves emergency lighting checks for over 800 shops that we manage. Prior to implementing Autodesk Build, this was an entirely paper-based process which was not only time consuming but also risky, as important information could be lost during this process.”

chieving the 2030 vision starts today

Looking to the future, Lomans plan to use more and more of the features and functionality that Autodesk Build offers including automating annual processes. Lomans are also investing in the optimal tools for their team when it comes to using Autodesk Build, which includes providing employees with laptops and smart devices. “The time our team has saved using the solution already has been immense,” says Bas. “Searching for documents is not only time consuming but also frustrating. The thinking that goes into this activity has also been removed,” reflects Bas. “Our teams can now focus on the value-added activities like making sure our projects are delivered to the best quality. We can also focus on more robust quality checks rather than wasting time on administrative tasks,” says Bas.

The vision for Lomans is that all projects will be live on Autodesk’s Construction Cloud and time will not be wasted searching for documents, looking for data or waiting for information to be provided. “For our team at Lomans, we’ve removed the need to search for documents on a project; they’ll be exactly where you need them to be,” states Bas.

For Bas, happy customers drive business growth so focusing on quality and implementing smarter ways of working will be invaluable for the team at Lomans. “Ultimately, our team’s expertise can be used to the best of their abilities. We can better support our customers to address their needs and solve their problems for improved outcomes,” says Bas.

The post Working In and With 3D Environments to Deliver Better Outcomes for Lomans’ Clients appeared first on Digital Builder.

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Construction Management

Autodesk Build Gets 25+ Product Updates, Features, and Enhancements

See the latest updates to Autodesk Build

As Autodesk Build continues to support the successful management of projects around the world, we’ve been working behind the scenes to make it more powerful, more useful, and more valuable in its ability to connect teams to the data they need, when they need it.

In the last few months, our team has been preparing to release over 25 new updates, features, and enhancements this month—all geared towards helping you better connect your teams, data and processes. Check out the latest Autodesk Build releases below.

Jump to release details by type:

Highlighted Releases>Assets | NFC SupportCost Management | Home Page**Cost Management | Expense Photo ReferencesRFIs | Step Back from Manager to SubSchedule | Suggestions [coming soon]Submittals | Review and Annotate AttachmentsDocument Management Releases>Desktop Connector>Right Click to Rename FilesNon-conforming File ValidationFiles>Import/Export Naming Standard*Improvements to ISO File and Folder Operations*Open and Edit DWG with AutoCADReviews | Add Custom Attributes to WorkflowsCost Releases>Cost Management>Enhanced Document Review Functionality**Issue to Potential Change Order (PCO)Project Management Releases>Submittals>Import EnhancementProject Home Support on MobileUpload Attachments from Files or from ComputerRFIs>Roles and Companies as UsersShort RFI Creation on the mobileMeetings | Upload AttachmentsSchedule>Add Cost referenceEnhanced iOS supportQuality & Safety Management Releases>Issues | Add Reference to Submittals, Forms, PCOsStandardization Releases>Bridge>Automatic Sheet SharingImport FunctionalityLibrary | Search & SortData and Intelligence Releases>Dashboards>Additional Partner Cards*Send Dashboard as Reports*Unified Account Level UI Enhancements*Data Connector>PhotosProgress Tracking DataReports>Issue Summary and Issue Detail Filtering by Custom AttributeLogo ManagementSubmittals | Report EnhancementsProject Closeout and Handover Releases>Assets>Bulk Edits on Web & MobileRFI ReferencesSchedule ReferencesHandover | Files & Issues in As Built Export

* = features on both Autodesk Construction Cloud unified platform & BIM 360

** = features in both Autodesk Build & BIM 360

*** = features in both Autodesk Build & PlanGrid

**** = Autodesk Docs feature (available across all unified products)

***** = features in both Autodesk Build and Autodesk BIM Collaborate



Highlighted Releases


Assets | NFC Support

In addition to using barcode / QR code scanning within the Assets tool of Autodesk Build, users can now use Near Field Communication technology to pull up detailed asset information. This saves teams time since they can simply set a device within range of the asset, and all asset related information stored within the PlanGrid Build mobile app will instantly appear.

Cost Management | Home Page**

Autodesk Build and BIM 360 Cost Management users now have access to a new Home Page within Cost Management, displaying an aggregated calendar view of important dates across the system for increased visibility.

Cost Management | Expense Photo References

Autodesk Build Cost Management users can now add photo references (e.g., delivery tickets, receipts, etc.) to expenses, ensuring accounting has what they need to process payments.

RFIs | Step Back From Manager to Subcontractor

This feature allows RFI managers to request additional information from subcontractors by sending the RFI back to the sub. This release helps to speed up the RFI workflow by making sure necessary changes are made in a timely manner.

Schedule | Suggestions [coming soon]

Users with the right permissions can now submit update suggestions on an activity to the schedule manager, improving communication across stakeholders. The schedule managers can review, approve or reject the suggestions. The schedule manager must update the master schedule in the schedule authoring tool to ensure the latest schedule is imported into Autodesk Build.

Submittals | Review & Annotate PDF Attachments

Autodesk Build users now can view and annotate submittals, such as adding an approval stamp (image stamp), text, arrow, cloud, highlighter and various shapes directly in Autodesk Build. This enables a faster and more efficient review process.


Document Management Releases

Desktop Connector | Non-Conforming File Validation*

Autodesk Construction Cloud unified platform and BIM 360 users now have the ability to select specific files, and put them through the naming validation tool to rename them in order to meet the project’s naming standard in Docs.

Desktop Connector | Right-click to Rename Files*

For any file, a user be able to right click and rename a file from Desktop Connector without needing to navigate to Docs in the web browser.

Files | Import/Export of Naming Standard*

As a project admin setting up the naming standard on a project, the admin now have the option to export a .xlsx template. They can also make adjustments to the naming standard attributes in MS Excel for ease of use and import to a single project or multiple projects.

Files | Improvements to ISE File & Folder Operations*

Autodesk Construction Cloud unified platform or BIM 360 users can now take advantage of ISO naming standards validation when moving or copying files from enforced to enforced folders​ and when making a file “current”​. Additionally, users can now have their search results be a method to organize files for selection to move or copy to an enforced folder.

Files | Open and Edit DWG with AutoCAD (web app)

From within Files, users can now right click on a .dwg file type to open the drawing within the AutoCAD web app, exposing the use of native AutoCAD tools (viewing and editing). NOTE: Once the file is clicked, a new tab is opened, exposing the AutoCAD web interface.

Reviews | Add Custom Attributes to Workflows*

The project admin can now add custom attributes to a workflow so that each review initiated has the custom attribute columns for the approve to complete as needed. Note: For BIM 360 users, only projects created after Mar 23, 2021 will have this feature.


Cost Releases

Cost Management | Enhanced Document Review Functionality**

Autodesk Build and BIM 360 Cost Management users can open and edit Microsoft Word documents online directly from the document package section within the items details flyout panel, enhancing and accelerating the document review processes.

Cost Management | Issue to Potential Change Order

Expanding on the ability to create a Potential Change Order (PCO) from an RFI or Submittal Item, Autodesk Build Cost Management users can generate a PCO directly from Issue. Continuing to help teams capture the origin of change orders.


Project Management Releases

Submittals | Import Enhancements

During the upload process, Autodesk Build users get a new processing loader which can be referred to as a progress bar. This release supports a friendlier and more transparent import process.

Submittals | Project Home Support on Mobile

Users can now view a submittals work status card on iOS & Android. This allows access to critical and actionable information faster from any device at any time.

Submittals | Upload Attachments from Files or from Computer

Autodesk Build users can select up to 10 existing files from Autodesk Docs and attach it to the specific submittal item. Now, Document Management and Project Management workflows are even more connected.

RFIs | Roles and Companies as Users

Within each RFI, all roles and companies can now be specified as a watcher or co-reviewer. This release improves ease of use when creating, editing, or assigning RFIs.

RFIs | Short RFI Creation on Mobile

Users have the option to create an RFI by simply filling out the information for three fields: RFI title, question, and photos. This feature allows users to save time on RFI creation in the field.

Meetings | Upload Attachments Directly from Computer*****

Users can upload and remove attachments directly from their PC. Attachments can be added at a meeting or at an item level. This ensures up-to-date information is shared and reviewed during the meeting.

Schedule | Add Cost reference

Users can reference cost items from the cost management tool to an activity in schedule.

Schedule | Enhanced iOS support

iOS users can filter schedule information by Activity codes/ Outline codes imported from the schedule authoring tools. Allowing teams to find the right information, faster.


Quality & Safety Management Releases

Issues | Add reference to submittals, forms, PCOs

In addition to the existing ability to link photos, files, RFIs and assets, user can now also add a reference to submittals, forms and PCOs, directly from the issue. This way, teams ensure even more of the issue’s context gets captured.


Standardization Releases

Bridge | Automatic Sheet Sharing

As a follow up to the ability to share sheets across accounts (released in July 2021), team members can now specify certain sheets that they are sharing to automatically update when a new version is published. This ensures teams, even if they are from different companies or using different accounts, are always looking at the most up to date sheet information. NOTE: We are currently working on building up the feature functionality of the Bridge tool. Please watch for more enhancements to Bridge in future releases.

Bridge | Import Functionality

Within the ‘Incoming’ tab of Bridge, Autodesk Build users see a new option to ‘Import’ and select sheets from other projects, in which they are also a member, to add to their current project. This improves cross-team and cross-project collaboration, and gives users the ability to surface relevant information to their teams. NOTE: We are currently working on building up the feature functionality of the Bridge tool. Please watch for more enhancements to Bridge in future releases.

Library | Search & Sort

There is a new search bar as well as the option to sort within the account level library in the Autodesk Construction Cloud unified platform. This makes it easier to find library components so that teams can use consistent practices and drive standardization across all projects.


Data and Intelligence Releases

Dashboards | Additional Partner Cards*

Both Autodesk Construction Cloud Unified Platform and BIM 360 users now see new partner cards for Aespada,, Embneusys, Geometrid, Oculo, Pronovos, Safe Site Check In, Structshare,, and WakeCap.

Dashboards | Send Dashboard as Reports*

Both Autodesk Construction Cloud unified platform and BIM 360 users can now share data from a dashboard within Insight as a PDF report to any external team members. A great example of this is if a general contractor wanted to share a dashboard view with an owner who did not have an account. This broadens visibility into project data and allows teams to create custom dashboards and easily share relevant views. Note: PDF reports of dashboards do not include partner cards in this initial release.

Dashboards | Unified Account Level UI Enhancements*

From within the Executive Overview dashboards within Insight, both Autodesk Construction Cloud unified platform and BIM 360 users now see a consistent UI to help indicate that all projects shown on this overview list are pulled from projects across both BIM 360 and ACC. This ensures that executives see a holistic view of all projects, regardless of the product used, and help improve the migration experience.

Data Connector | Photos Data

Autodesk Build users can now extract Photos data using the Data Connector. This is especially important to teams tracking quality and safety and wanting to see details around things like how many photos have been captured.

Data Connector | Progress Tracking Data

Autodesk Build users can now extract Progress Tracking data using the Data Connector. This gives teams the ability to create custom dashboards around the use of Progress Tracking and further analyze installation progress of objects on a project using other BI tools.

Reports | Issue Summary & Issue Detail Filter by Custom Attribute

Autodesk Construction Cloud unified platform users can now filter both the Issue Summary and Issue Detail reports by any custom attribute. This allows teams to run more specific reports that are catered to the way individual companies track issues.

Reports | Logo Management

Project Admins can now customize the logo that shows up on reports by either selecting the account logo or adding in a net new logo. This allows teams to improve the branding of their reports and provide clarity of ownership when sharing reports externally.

Submittals | Report Enhancements

From the Submittal tool, users will be able to generate both the detail and summary reports, and have the option to include specific submittal items when exporting the report. Report enhancements now also include a single item report that can be generated from the action menu. Users can also copy a public link to share the report from the panel once the report has been generated. These enhancements allow customers to have more flexibility when exporting submittal reports.


Project Closeout and Handover Releases

Assets | Bulk Edits on Web & Mobile

Within Autodesk Build or the PlanGrid Build mobile app, teams can now make bulk edits to a selected group of assets by simply scanning barcodes, QR codes, or NFC tags in sequence. This allows teams to better standardize information and make updates faster.

Assets | RFI References

Within the Assets tool flyout panel, teams now see an added reference option for RFI’s. This means that users can link a specific asset to an RFI, connecting information and making it more accessible throughout both the assets and RFI workflow. Note: Mobile functionality will come by the end of the month.

Assets | Schedule References

Within the Assets tool flyout panel, teams now see an added reference option for Schedule. This means that users can link a specific asset to schedule item which gives visibility into where an asset status is in relation to the broader project schedule. Having this level of visibility helps teams better plan and forecast dates. Note: Mobile functionality will come by the end of the month.

Handover | Files & Issues in As Built Export

Autodesk Build users can now export Files and Issues data as a part of the As Built Export tool. This adds to the RFI, Submittals, and Sheets download that was currently available and further improves the handover process by saving time, enhancing documentation accuracy, and improving owner satisfaction. Note: Files data will not be available until the end of November.

To see the full list of our latest updates across all Autodesk Construction Cloud, please check out this blog post.


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The post Autodesk Build Gets 25+ Product Updates, Features, and Enhancements appeared first on Digital Builder.

Construction Management

Digital Builder Podcast Ep 22: How Specialty Contractors Can Navigate Contracts & Get Paid On Time

In a perfect world, a contract should include a clear set of instructions that conveys well-defined expectations to all parties concerned. In reality, it’s often a monster document packed full of legalese that can be difficult to understand. This episode of Autodesk’s Digital Builder podcast addresses the most common challenges with contracts and how simple adjustments can ensure you fully understand what you’re signing. And of course, we cover steps to make sure you’re getting paid on time.


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On this podcast episode

Today’s guest, Karalynn Cromeens, Owner & Managing Partner at The Cromeens Law Firm, joins the show to share the steps everyone can take to make contracts more straightforward and less contentious.

We discuss:

The current state of construction contractsThe difference between secured and unsecured debtsHow to protect yourself when it comes to contracting and payment termsBest practices for handling change ordersConstruction technology and the future of contracting and payments

A contract should really be a tool to help everyone in the construction industry; it doesn’t have to be this monster document that you just hold your nose, sign, and hope for the best.” —Karalynn Cromeens, Owner & Managing Partner, The Cromeens Law Firm


4 tips for navigating contracts and getting paid on time

1. Understand the state of contracts and payment terms in construction

The current state of contracts and payment terms in construction leaves a lot to be desired, says Karalynn.

For starters, construction contracts have become increasingly complex, making it hard for all parties to get on the same page.

“The contract is supposed to be a clear set of instructions just like plans and specs, but it becomes this monster document that nobody understands and it’s not conveying expectations clearly.”

—Karalynn Cromeens, The Cromeens Law Firm

Karalynn also brought up the tendency of the industry to pass liability down the chain when drawing up contracts. Owners pass on certain risks (contractually) to general contractors, who may do the same thing when hiring specialty contractors.

These things are common in the AEC industry, particularly since construction professionals want to protect themselves when possible. However, these practices can create rifts in relationships and result in contentious situations.

For this reason, construction professionals must find better ways to craft and negotiate agreements. This starts with using contracts that people can easily comprehend.

“Let’s have a contract and ensure that everybody knows what it says,” says Karalynn.

She recalls her experience speaking with a fellow attorney who had to go through a 129-page subcontract that could have been cut down to ten pages.

“It’s all repetitive, it’s all legalese and there’s no reason for it. The contract should be a tool to help everyone in the construction industry understand the project’s requirements, deadlines, and terms. It doesn’t have to be this monster document that you just have to hold your nose and sign, then hope for the best.”

Karalynn also emphasizes the importance of negotiating who takes on certain risks and liabilities. “I’m not saying that the subs don’t take any liability or the general contractor doesn’t take any liability from the owner; I’m saying let’s negotiate. Let’s meet in the middle. Which is what it’s supposed to be.”

Taking these steps, states Karalynn, helps parties negotiate more equitable contracts and forge better relationships—something that’s crucial, especially since construction is such a relationship-centric industry.


2. Make sense of your contracts

The shifting of risk and liabilities is a very common practice when drafting contracts. After all, everyone is trying to protect themselves. That said, contracting can be done fairly so that relationships aren’t taken advantage of, and risk isn’t pushed downstream.

As the host of “Quit Getting Screwed,” a podcast that focuses on helping contractors build better businesses, Karalynn is well-versed in construction contracts and she offers valuable advice to help contractors understand the agreements that they’re signing.

Know the different types of contracts

There are different types of contracts drawn up between owners, general contractors, and specialty contractors. According to Karalynn, contractors must understand these various documents and how they relate to each party.

First, there’s the prime contract, which is the agreement that sets the terms between the owner and GC. The GC then hires contractors, which is where the subcontractor agreement comes into play.

This subcontractor agreement often “relegates the terms of the prime contract,” says Karalynn.

“What has happened and what has been happening as long as I’ve been reading subcontracts is on the first page of the subcontract, there’s a line that incorporates the terms of the prime contract. So these subcontractors, specialty contractors, or trade contractors are going to be held responsible and liable to the terms of the prime contract.”

The issue, she says, is that subcontractors often don’t see the prime contract so they don’t know what the document says and they’re unable to negotiate its terms.

Karalynn says it’s important for subcontractors to get ahold of the prime contract so they can understand exactly what they’re agreeing to.

Another common type of agreement is the Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP) contract.

“What this tries to do is shift the risk of material price increases to the general contractor, and then from the general to the subs.”

The GMP contract can cause challenges if it doesn’t allow contractors to increase what they’re charging when material costs rise. For this reason, contractors need to be careful with the GMP agreement and negotiate terms to protect themselves.

Be aware of the “pay when paid” clause

Karalynn recommends being mindful of the “pay when paid” clause, which essentially means subcontractors won’t get paid until the GC is paid by the owner.

“So if you’re a subcontractor and you do the best outstanding job in the whole world and the GC tells you what a great job you did… That by itself is not enough to get paid if you have a ‘pay when paid clause’. You are relying on something to happen that you have no control over.”

She continues, “the owners [have] to pay the general contractor before the general [contractors have] the obligation to pay you, the sub. So really, if you sign a subcontract with a ‘pay when paid’ clause and you don’t negotiate, you should really have enough cash on hand to float that whole contract amount just in case.”

In these instances, you should negotiate and try to split the risk, says Karalynn.

“You can say, ‘If the GC is not paid by the owner within 30 days and it’s not my fault, you’ll pay me 50% of the payout. At least I can pay for my guys and I can make it a little longer without getting paid.’”

—Karalynn Cromeens, The Cromeens Law Firm


3. Learn how credit works in construction

The construction industry runs on credit. Owners often take out loans to fund projects, and they are extended credit to be able to do that. A similar thing happens with subcontractors, especially those working with a “pay when paid” clause.

As Karalynn puts it, “subcontractors and material suppliers supply the labor, supply the material and wait to get paid. And that is credit. You are owed a debt. So, if you work and wait to get paid you have extended credit.”

To ensure that you get paid, you need to understand the difference between unsecured and secured credit. Unsecured credit means the debt is not tied to any collateral. You can collect on the debt by taking things to court, obtaining a judgment, and finding assets to collect the amount owed.

Secured credit, on the other hand, is backed by collateral. A home mortgage is a common example of secured debt. Mortgage companies let buyers obtain a loan to purchase a house, and they hold the property as collateral.

“A mechanic’s lien works the same way,” says Karalynn. “If you do it right in your state and you file it on a project, you are now a secured creditor. The amount that you’re owed for labor and materials is secured by the property that you supplied them to.”

She adds, “You still have your unsecured debt claim against the GC or whoever hired you, but now you have a security interest in the property to the extent that you’re owed money for labor and materials supplied.”


4. Ensure you’ll be paid on time

While laws vary from one state to the next, there are a number of universal tips that you can implement to negotiate contracts and ensure you get paid on time. Here are Karalynn’s top recommendations.

Don’t just sign a contract—make sure you understand it

Even if you don’t want to negotiate, Karalynn says it’s worth having an attorney or legal professional break down what the contract means. “That way, you know what you’re agreeing to and you know what’s expected.”

At the very least, you must “understand what you’re agreeing to, and then you can go from there,” says Karalynn.

She continues, “Please, don’t just sign the contract. From my experience, the subcontract that comes over is the first offer. It is like paying the sticker price for a car. No one does that. And I think part of why subcontracts are in the state that they are in now, is that attorneys draft things that are the best for their client thinking that there’s going to be a negotiation. But subs were so afraid of not getting the work that they just signed the contracts, and now there’s a standard out there that’s one-sided.”

Get your change order costs covered

Karalynn says subcontractors must understand the change order provision in their contract and then negotiate before signing.

“What I like to do in my contracts is, if we can’t agree on a price, we’ll do costs plus a percentage—e.g., 15%, 10%, or whatever is agreed upon. That way, we don’t have this long, drawn-out negotiation.”

—Karalynn Cromeens, The Cromeens Law Firm

“What I like to do in my contracts is, if we can’t agree on a price, we’ll do costs plus a percentage—e.g., 15%, 10%, or whatever is agreed upon. That way, we don’t have this long, drawn-out negotiation. We just build in, ‘Okay. I’m going to give you a price. If you don’t like it, here’s the alternative.’”

Another tip? Before doing the work, have the actual change order form drafted and ensure that the costs for the work are outlined clearly. You also need to assure that all parties have signed it before working on the changes.

“Where most people get into trouble is that they don’t get it signed or they submit it after they do the work. When that happens, you’re just in somebody’s good graces to sign it for you because you’re really not going to get paid for that extra work if it’s not on a written change order,” says Karalynn.

ccount for market volatility

With material prices being so volatile right now, Karalynn says contractors and subcontractors need to account for increases in material and labor costs.

According to her, “you need to put on there that if the material prices escalate more than 2% or 3%, you’re going to be able to change your bid for that.”

“I also have guys that are putting shorter timelines on their bid—like 30 or 60 days—and if it’s not accepted by then, the bid is withdrawn. That’s just because the market is so volatile right now.”

Do an itemized bid

Always do an itemized bid, advises Karalynn. “You don’t want to just bid the whole scope and miss something and then you’re on the hook to do it. Because once you put a bid out there into the world, it is an offer that can be accepted. And once it’s accepted, you’re held liable to those terms.”

Another thing to keep in mind is that your bid can be different from the actual scope of the project. You need to remember that you’re not hired to do your bid, you’re hired to do the scope.

As Karalynn points out, “your bid no longer describes the work you were hired to do. The scope attached to the contract does. If those two things are different, you’re still held to the scope. So one of the things I tell my contractors is to read the scope as if it were a new project and make sure you get the same price.”

Utilize technology to save on attorney fees

Karalynn is all for using technology to help contractors put together contracts and make sure they get paid.

“There are so many great platforms out there that allow you to do everything electronically. A lot of times, you don’t get paid on time because not everything is in there or it’s not submitted correctly so that pushes you back another month. Technology helps eliminate all that. It has everything all in one place.”

Karalynn adds that technology not only helps attorneys do their jobs more efficiently, it could even lower your legal bills.

“I appreciate it so much as a lawyer that I don’t have to go through banker boxes looking for all the paper documents that go with a particular job. If I’m looking for something, I can search by keyword. It saves you so much in attorneys fees too, because I don’t have to spend time searching.”


Final words on contracts and timely payments

Navigating the realm of construction contracts, costs, and risks can be tricky, but understanding these things is key to getting paid on time. Before entering into an agreement, be sure to read and fully understand the terms of the contract, so you can negotiate accordingly.

Doing that is no easy task, which is why Karalynn says it’s extremely helpful to have “an attorney that’s a phone call away.”

“I don’t think people realize how much legal crosses over into the construction world. And often, you need somebody that’s going to answer the phone right away. You can’t wait two days, you can’t wait a week to get an answer. I think an attorney on call that is familiar with construction is a priceless tool in your toolbox.”


New podcast episode every two weeks

Autodesk’s Digital Builder podcast is hosted by me, Eric Thomas. New episodes go live every two weeks.

If you need to learn additional contracting and negotiation tactics, catch the full podcast episode of Digital Builder to hear more from Karalynn.

Listen to the Digital Builder Podcast on:

Apple PodcastsSpotifyStitcherGoogle Podcastsor wherever you listen to podcasts

The post Digital Builder Podcast Ep 22: How Specialty Contractors Can Navigate Contracts & Get Paid On Time appeared first on Digital Builder.

Did you miss our previous article…

Construction Management

A Practical Guide to Construction Accounting Software

Construction accounting software is a must-have, but may seem daunting to implement new solutions if your accounting technology hasn’t kept up with the complexities of your growing business. Managing the myriad of accounting activities across an entire construction business, or at any phase of an individual project, you’re going to want access to the most accurate, real-time numbers possible.

No stranger to disruption, the construction industry is experiencing higher levels of digitization than ever before. The pandemic has accelerated digital transformation by as much as seven years according to some experts. Technical tools and solutions are making some of the most complicated and manual practices in construction a concern of the past. 

That includes accounting. Sure, accounting may have a bit of a reputation for being mundane. But the latest innovations in construction project management software provide an exciting level of financial clarity—especially useful to connect project finances to accounting decision-makers. If you’re exploring options to make construction accounting more efficient and accurate, you’ll find plenty of helpful information on choosing the right software below. 

The Basics of Construction Accounting & What Makes It Different

At its most basic level, accounting helps businesses understand and capture accounting activities. It’s essential to business administration, management and financial reporting. Sometimes referred to as the “language of business,” accounting personnel document an organization’s accounting activities to accurately measure financial performance. This information is then communicated to owners, investors, creditors, and regulators. It will also dictate who you do business with and how.

Construction accounting takes into consideration the challenges that come along with the construction business. This includes tracking revenue, job costing, payroll, and managing several contracts and project risks simultaneously. Because the building process is so uniquely complex, accounting practices must be adapted to the construction industry.

Let’s look at what makes construction accounting different from most other businesses.  

Everything Is Moving All the Time

The nature of construction is quite different from your average business. Outside of a major project roadblock, all aspects of a construction project are moving forward simultaneously. Instead of operating from a fixed location with a fixed set of products or services, construction projects rely on a range of locations, materials, and services. Everyone and everything tends to always be on the go. As a result, accurately managing milestones and finances throughout the life of a project—whether payables or receivables—can be challenging.

Unique Project- and Contract-Based Milestones

Firms typically work on multiple projects at a time. Instead of having one transaction, organizations may have multiple transactions occurring simultaneously across several project partners. Each project partner likely has their own set of timelines and milestones that impact accounting. Furthermore, it can take time to actually receive payment for services rendered. Some firms use project-based accounting. In this practice, each project functions as its own entity with profits and losses. 

Another consideration for construction accounting is long-term contracts. It’s not uncommon for projects to take years to finish. In these scenarios, expenses and revenue may occur at different times than had been originally planned. Knowing the implications of when and how to accrue income and expenses across multi-year projects is an art in itself. 

Tracking Sales

Businesses often create categories and cost codes to track sales. There are often multiple vendors on projects in construction, whether that’s to account for materials or services, there are often tens, if not hundreds, of billable line items on any given job. Traditional accounting practices leave a lot of room for error and confusion. Purpose-built construction accounting software can help to automate this process and meet the need for multiple service or product categories. Smarter categorization enables a much cleaner look at overall business performance. This is made especially easy with dedicated construction accounting software.

Industry-Specific Costs and Expenses

Every construction job involves direct and indirect costs that cross multiple categories. To make things even more complex, items that you might consider overhead expenses are often actually costs of goods sold because they are connected to a client project. Overhead costs can fluctuate month to month based on workers’ compensation, subcontractors, insurance, training, and more.

What to Include in Construction Job Costing

The complexity of construction accounting extends to calculating how much a project will actually cost the firm. That’s where job costing comes into play. This calculation method divides the project into specific tasks. That way, you can track expenses to the various tasks of a project. It provides greater visibility into which projects, activities, and materials are generating the most costs

With job costing, you can separate the project into the main phases and then sort scopes of work into each phase. Organizations can then create unique construction cost codes to track the expenses. You may choose to create a handful of codes or multiple codes for a more granular view. After developing the codes, you can generally divide them into five categories: labor, materials, subcontracts, equipment, and overhead. 


How much does your crew cost you? That’s what the labor categories in job costing can help you answer. To find this number for each project, start by calculating how much it costs per day to have your crew. This is likely to be your high level hires like general contractors, who you’ll interface with regularly. Don’t forget to include insurance, worker’s compensation, and taxes into the figure. You can then multiply the number of days you’ll have the crew on the project. 

Be sure to include a buffer for unforeseen labor costs in your estimates. Project progress is rarely linear. You’ll also want to parse out subcontractor costs with the help of your general contractors. More on that below.


These costs can be both direct and indirect. For example, direct material costs can include items like concrete and steel. It’s often easier to link these items to a specific project. Indirect material costs include things like nails and caulking. You may also apply a margin for delivery and cleanup. It’s important to think of the life of a material, and any complimentary materials, when costing your project.


General contractors are enlisted to manage construction activities and schedules, but are also instrumental in minimizing risks and issuing subcontracts. Each subcontract encapsulates costs for a general contractor and revenue to a subcontractor for specific scopes of work on a construction project. Managing subcontractor payment applications is fundamental to construction accounting, and also drives the upstream receivables, as subcontractor costs translate into general contractor revenue.


Depending on whether or not your contracted labor brings equipment to the table, you may want to cost this out separately. At which point, identify your equipment supplier rates and multiply by the estimated length of the project or time needed with that particular asset. It’s possible that equipment needs will span multiple projects. 

If your contracted labor does bring equipment to the table, work with them to identify expected costs for a clear picture of how your equipment impacts accounting activities over the life of a project.


A lot of work goes on behind the scenes so you can’t forget to include the cost of doing business. That means you’ll need to measure accounting activities that go beyond the above mentioned categories. In other words, don’t forget about overhead when job costing. Some things to consider including would be full-time staff, office rentals, administration, and depreciation of equipment.

5 Steps for Revenue Recognition in Construction

Revenue recognition is the accounting of revenue when certain conditions are met on a project. Certain governing bodies issue revenue recognition standards to disseminate accounting best practices.

The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) and International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) updated reporting standards for revenue recognition from contracts with customers in 2014. This standard is known as Accounting Standards Codification Topic 606 (ASC 606), or more simply, the new standard. Prior to the new standard, many organizations relied on the percentage-of-completion method and completed-contract method.

According to FASB, the intent for the latest guidance is to “report useful information to users of financial statements about the nature, timing, and uncertainty of revenue from contracts with customers.”

FASB has adopted a principle-based revenue recognition approach. With this approach, revenue is recognized according to two key factors. First, the contractor must meet performance obligations. Second, the control of goods or services must be transferred to the customer. This transfer can take place at a particular point in time or over a period of time. 

To comply with revenue recognition standards, or ASC 606, be sure to follow these five steps:

Identify the contract with the customer.Identify the performance obligations in the contract.Determine the transaction price.Allocate the transaction price to the separate performance obligations.Recognize revenue when (or as) the entity satisfies a performance obligation.

Top Construction Accounting Technologies

Dedicated construction accounting software solutions can help to optimize processes and automate manual tasks. As you consider ways to improve your construction accounting processes, keep these leading solutions in mind. 

QuickBooks Online (Intuit)This cloud-based financial management software helps you manage your finances efficiently and gives you time back in your day. Create estimates, build invoices, track sales, monitor cash flow, and manage your customers as well as suppliers from one intuitive platform. Oftentimes, QuickBooks Online will be integrated with a project management platform to track costs and provide an operations team with the tools they need to control documents and manage budgets.

Morpheus Connect any ERP to Autodesk Build’s leading budget and cost management solution for a truly integrated financial environment. No more double entry, manual errors or missed information.  You gain full transparency from the field to the office on job costs.  Trusted for over 20 years by the ENR 400.

DataStreet: DataStreet was built to eliminate time and material tag paperwork and reduce the amount of time spent on change order processing. The cloud-based project management platform increases transparency between your office and field teams. All of the data is stored in the cloud for easy access; use project-specific settings to customize your workflows and experience. 

Rhumbix: Want to streamline your field operations? Rhumbix can do just that by quickly capturing timekeeping data, time and materials changes, and factors impacting construction labor costs. Get all the insights you need to make smart decisions about labor cost management, risk management, and safety while easily connecting to your existing accounting solutions.

SageAutodesk Construction Cloud partners have built dynamic integrations between Sage 300 Construction and Real Estate and Autodesk Build, uniting accounting, project management, and field collaboration. Manage cost-related activities, streamline workflows, and connect data for greater real-time visibility into your project’s financial health.

Wrapping Up

As you can see, there’s a lot of nuances specific to construction accounting. The software solutions that exist are getting better at addressing these complexities every single day. 

With the right construction accounting software, accurately job costing, tracking timelines, and adhering to the revenue recognition standards is much easier. It puts owners and contractors on the same page throughout the life of a project. Plus, the standardized approach makes tracking company-wide finances across all projects a much less daunting task.

The post A Practical Guide to Construction Accounting Software appeared first on Digital Builder.

Construction Management

Scaling for Success in the Plant and Manufacturing Industry Through Standardised Ways of Working

Axalta Coating Systems Ltd are a leading global coatings provider dedicated to the development, manufacturing, delivery, and service of liquid and powder coatings, with their headquarters in Philadelphia, USA. With over 150 years of experience in the coatings industry, they provide their customers with innovative, colourful and sustainable solutions.

Predominantly developing and manufacturing coatings for light and commercial vehicles, industrial and refinish applications; Axalta embraces the latest trends alongside emerging technology and systems to deliver the finest coatings to more than 100,000 customers across the globe. With 46 manufacturing centres across the world, 28 laboratories and a presence in over 130 countries, the team at Axalta are constantly looking at news ways to push boundaries.

Marco Schuh, BIM Manager at Axalta, has worked in the architecture, engineering and construction industry for the last 20 years. In his various roles, Marco has witnessed the vast expansion of computer-aided design first-hand and has seen Business Information Modelling (BIM) use and demand rapidly increase. “For the last five years, I have been focusing on cloud-based project management practices in a BIM environment, so I have seen the application and the technology grow too,” says Marco.

In 2019, Axalta’s plant engineering subsidiary business based in Wuppertal, Germany began exploring how they could move some of their local project data from a local server into the cloud. The team wanted to be able to host and store project documentation centrally in a secure environment but also to learn more about how they could improve, implement, and embed digital workflows for this business unit to aid communication and collaboration.

Standardising ways of working

With many different document management practices happening on the ground for the plant engineering team, ensuring standardised document management processes were implemented smoothly was very important. Alongside this, the team also needed to find a solution that allowed everyone to access the documents they needed wherever, and whenever they needed them.

Working in a plant environment with tight timescales means that the team at Axalta cannot afford to lose project time due to poor communication because of missing project data. The team were already using a server solution for internal documentation, but it limited their ability to successfully access, track and collaborate on documents in a transparent way.  

After a period of exploration, Axalta concluded that Autodesk Construction Cloud’s BIM 360 solution was the right technology for Axalta’s needs with a focus on improving communication. To implement the solution successfully and smoothly, Marco partnered with Autodesk’s customer success team and their local reseller partner, Mensch und Maschine Deutschland. It was crucial that the team at Axalta were able to move their interdisciplinary project data into the cloud environment in a seamless way, minimising any disruption to ongoing live projects.

“Our projects are time-critical, so we need smooth, transparent, clear communication and filing to know where project data was stored as we transitioned from our previous system to BIM 360,” Marco reflects.

Creating a comprehensive transition plan

Scaling for success in the plant and manufacturing industry through standardised ways of working

The team at Axalta were aware of the long-term negative impacts that could arise from disruption to ongoing projects, so they created a comprehensive transition plan. The plan, which spanned a 12-month period, involved an elaborated transition process which included a testing and a migration phase. This happened in parallel with Axalta’s ongoing day-to-day regular processes, so the team were managing two ways of working at once. Working in this way helped to minimise any interruptions or delays to ongoing work and allowed the team plenty of time to understand and prepare employees for new ways of working within the team.

To get started, the team at Axalta began their journey with BIM 360 on a large collaborative project which involved several stakeholders – many of which were not directly located on site at Axalta’s plant facility. To ensure all the external collaborators and partners were safely and comprehensively introduced to the solution and the new ways of working, Marco conducted introductory sessions on site. As well as this, Marco and the team created an internal handbook for project team members to use with a complete overview of the BIM 360 project workflows that would be rolled out.

We worked closely with the team at Autodesk to ensure we transitioned successfully, and this included bi-monthly calls with tech champions, mentorship on workflows for these champions, feedback sessions with Autodesk’s product team as well as ongoing communication on outcome-focused goals,” says Marco.

Internal plant maintenance projects and construction projects for new plants began using BIM 360 for document management and digital workflows. The team began with a focus on document management practices but soon expanded into using other capabilities BIM 360 had to offer. Naming conventions and folder structures were the first areas the team focused on as well as supporting the Computer Aided Design (CAD) teams with how they could digitalise and integrate their processes with BIM 360. This involved training sessions and one-to-one support by Marco as a BIM 360 expert.

We began exploring the functionality that allowed our teams to make notes and annotations onto our models in BIM 360 which increased accountability, transparency and communication immensely,” says Marco. “Annotating directly on the model meant that we minimised the chance of anything being missed when moving between different platforms and systems.” The team have also looked at what other digital workflows they could expand to use such as issues tracking.  

For the team at Axalta, using BIM 360 as their common data environment meant internal communication on projects improved significantly. Marco says: “BIM 360 gives us a single source of truth, transparency between all project stakeholders, and accessibility from anywhere meaning we’re all much better informed during a live project than we were before we started using BIM 360.” For the team, quality has increased dramatically as all project team members can be sure they are accessing one single source of truth. As well as this, standardising the team’s approach to document control and modelling has meant that all project collaborators can be sure they have the most up-to-date and accurate information they need when making important project decisions related to their tasks and activities.

Scaling for success

After a year of testing and using BIM 360 in the plant engineering subsidiary business, the use of BIM 360 is being explored by some of Axalta’s manufacturing, construction, and engineering departments in their locations in Germany.

Looking to the future, we plan on expanding our use of BIM 360 in plant and engineering even more,” affirms Marco. “We’ve also began integrating further technology into BIM 360 such as our laser scanning workflows and we’re looking to use the BIM 360 Coordinate feature to improve our model coordination processes,” remarks Marco.

For the team at Axalta, implementing BIM 360 to create robust document management processes, digitalising workflows and capturing project progress information in a BIM environment has not only improved team collaboration but delivered better project outcomes. “The most popular features in BIM 360 that our teams are using are the, project management, model coordination and issues management workflows as well as the powerful approval workflows for reviews within document management capabilities which reflects how the quality of our projects are improving through the use of BIM 360,” says Marco. Looking to the future, implementing the use of BIM 360 on more and more projects is the focus for the team as well as harnessing data for better project insights to drive decision-making across the business.

The post Scaling for Success in the Plant and Manufacturing Industry Through Standardised Ways of Working appeared first on Digital Builder.