In today’s building industry, there is very little
practical technology or automation after the plans have been completed and
passed from the architect to the Homeowner/Builder/Developer. Virtually
all projects are drawn in some kind of Computer Assisted Drawing (CAD)
program so the core of the housing industry starts at the architect’s
desktop. In particular, the architect’s computer contains detailed
information about the sizes and quantities of products which we call
symbols (smart objects) that apply to that particular project. This
specific information is unique to that project but is not all of the
possible combinations of available products. When the plans are handed to
the homeowner or builder, the electronic detail is discarded.
Does It Work Today?
The architect meets with the homeowner of the property to
design and draw the project. He must take into consideration many
restrictions - these restrictions range from city and local building codes
to budgetary amounts the homeowner has allocated for the project. The
first question asked by the architect to the homeowner is “what is your
budget?” Most projects are in financial trouble from the minute the
plans are drawn and handed to the homeowner. Collecting bids and or
finding a builder to meet your budget can be difficult, primarily due to
the lack of budgetary tools during the design phase.
Once the project is drawn the homeowner must have at least
ten to fifteen sets of plans reproduced. These plans are handed to the
builder to pass on to his sub contractors for estimating, not pricing, the
project. There are roughly 125 line items that make up the average
dwelling. These line items range from material items such as cabinets,
metal fireplaces, windows, plumbing, lumber, various labor trades, etc.
The current process requires each material supplier to
manually ascertain the product specifications by reviewing the plans and
making a list of the required products. An expert plan reader must do the
takeoff. This is a time consuming and error prone process. The list is
then entered into a desktop pricing program or is hand quoted from a price
book or some other manual process in order to generate pricing
information. If the bid turns into an order, the process is repeated to
enter the order into a manufacturer’s ordering system. Automating this
process will dramatically reduce the burden on suppliers and
manufacturers. It will also make buying products from participating
suppliers the easiest and least costly option available in the
marketplace. Since the architect already generates this information
electronically any further data entry is redundant. 1ST
Pricing is your expert plan reader.
Time of Costing and the Cost of Time
The average time it takes to estimate the cost of a single
family dwelling by a builder is 3 weeks at a cost of $1,500.00. The
average time it takes each sub contractor to estimate a set of plans is 4
to 5 hours at a cost of $300.00. The average time it takes a material
supplier to estimate a set of plans is 2 hours at a cost of $40.00 to
$60.00 dollars. The average homeowner has the project bid by 3 general
contractors. The cost of time spent, in dollars, plus actual costs to
estimate a set of plans by one builder, his sub contractors and material
suppliers to produce a building budget are $5,000.00 to $7,000.00. It is
the same process every time a builder receives a set of plans.
The architect and the homeowner have no idea of the
building cost until the builders develop their estimates. Much of the
time, it is significantly more than either had intended. Much of the
uncertainty of the building cost could be eliminated, from the beginning,
if the symbols used by the architect were “smart objects” that could
capture the architectural information electronically and talk to a central
pricing database. Sixty to seventy percent of the budget for building
would be available, in real time, as the architect is designing giving him
precise feedback on the cost of the project. Once this information is
captured electronically, it can be passed effortlessly, accurately, and
privately within the industry as easily as email.
Do We Have To Do?
We must optimize our current building process.
1ST Pricing is a pricing and a collaboration system that allows
homebuilders and builders to significantly reduce the number of days spent
managing every home they build. Homebuilders could build 15% to 35% more
homes by using 1ST Pricing and could keep their superintendents on the
jobsite, building homes, instead of in the construction office doing
paperwork and chasing down sub contractors and suppliers. This means
better quality homes and fewer warranty callbacks. Most importantly,
homeowners are empowered by accurate pricing information from which they
can make informed decisions and not be at the mercy of greedy or
The symbols that 1ST Pricing uses are “brand
generic” and are developed according to industry standards. They contain
minimum and maximum ranges, so that there are fewer errors when ordered or
when architect unknowingly designs with non-standard items. Non-standard
products that must be custom made create cost overruns. All information
should be handled electronically as often as possible. Accurate
electronically captured schedules must be built on all levels.
When designs are completed in CAD powered by 1ST
Pricing, a push of a button transmits information to the 1ST
Pricing server via the Internet and returns the price of the specific
products almost instantaneously. Pricing and availability are regionally
specific defined by zip code. Global change functionality allows multiple
quotes with various options, model types, etc. to help the end user hit
the desired budget range. If the quote becomes an order, the data is
processed through a configuration module and forwarded to the appropriate
channels for ordering via the Internet. Of course, no data entry is
required at the plant level – if the manufacturer is capable, the order
can be directed to the shop floor. This tool would allow the manufacturer
to complete the “last mile” of the data path to customers.
1ST Pricing allows builders, distributors and manufacturers to eliminate
paperwork and the entry, coding and selection errors that go with it, by
receiving purchase orders electronically. 1ST Pricing also empowers
homeowners to make more informed decisions. Organizations utilizing the
1ST Pricing technology can monitor every construction project assigned to
them, with real time pricing updates.