McCrory Construction Wows Customers with Fast, Accurate Models and Estimates

In continual operation as a general contractor since 1918 and with as much as 90 percent of its business coming from repeat customers, McCrory Construction for decades used traditional spreadsheet-based estimating methods for most projects. But for preconstruction and design-build projects that called for collaboration with architects and owners earlier in the process, the firm sensed that spreadsheets and drawings weren’t enough and sought a more integrated, visual option.

“We would go through the process from schematic design and drawings to final drawings and implementation in the field, but we never had a visual representation of what we were doing beyond the architect drawing,” says Matt Solomon, an estimator for McCrory with nearly two decades of experience.

To maintain and expand McCrory’s position as a leading force in the Southeast construction market across 13 states, the company invested in Beck Technology’s DESTINI Profiler in 2009. The small, fourth-generation, privately-owned firm is the first of its size in the region to embrace this next-level estimating technology, gaining a competitive advantage with faster, more accurate estimates and impressive visualization capabilities.

“We are at the forefront of technology in our area overall and especially for a firm of our size,” says Solomon. “Incorporating DESTINI Profiler in the preconstruction process has, and does, serve as a strong point of difference for our firm. Customers respond with shock and awe when presented with a detailed 3D model, complete with pricing in a matter of days, making DESTINI Profiler a valuable marketing tool. The technology speeds collaboration and improves transparency with owners and architects for projects.”

Design on the Fly

Combining 3D modeling with pricing, DESTINI Profiler allows the McCrory team and their clients to visualize in 3D how different design elements affect pricing and creates more accurate estimates than could be achieved with 2D drawings.

“The technology gives a true visualization of everything we are doing,” says Solomon. “It’s very impressive to owners that we can make changes on the fly, with the click of a button. We’re able to explore in real-time how changing a finish option or room configuration will impact the visual model as well as the overall project cost.”

By pulling topography data from Google Maps into DESTINI Profiler, Solomon can visualize exactly how a building would sit on the contours of the land. This application was particularly helpful for one multifamily project, in which two stories of parking were to be built beneath the building on a sloped site.

“The ability to pull in images from Google Maps and set the project on the exact site to show the elevations from a true vantage point wows our clients,” Solomon says. “It’s hard to envision two stories of parking with half in the ground and half above ground on one site. When you are able to take a building and lay it on a site using the actual layout perspective, that’s priceless.”

Working with subcontractors, he established specific pricing for each type of unit in the building, then assigned those values to each unit in the model. As Solomon built out the 3D model, he worked on the conceptual design with the owner, who was able to visualize via DESTINI Profiler each unit and floor within the building and what was included in the pricing. The entire model and estimate was complete within three weeks.

Another project, a small office building, took just five days to model and price, including creation of several site concepts with different building skins, window arrangements, and finishes. The result was a clear view into how the various options would affect pricing.

Rather than simply viewing a list of numbers and trying to imagine a building in his head, he is now able to visualize every angle of a finished structure, price out various options, and clearly show owners what they are getting for their money so they can make informed decisions.

A former construction superintendent and project manager, Solomon is also pleased that DESTINI Profiler catches measurement and other errors that might have been overlooked in drawings, avoiding problems during construction.

Cost Database Under Construction

With each project Solomon estimates using DESTINI Profiler, additional cost data are built into a growing database. As he estimates different types of projects – from multifamily properties to commercial, industrial, medical, or retail facilities – all cost data for specific elements stay in the system, making estimating similar projects in the future faster and easier. Solomon predicts estimated to actual project cost accuracy is better than 10 percent improved using the software.

To further build out the DESTINI Profiler database, Solomon has reverse-engineered projects that have already been bid or built, transforming lump-sum pricing into square-footage and per-room macro BIM pricing that can be quickly applied to future estimates. He has created several pre-programmed packages with specific line items for different types of rooms, such as a women’s restroom or hospital room, and across various building formats. In one instance, he selected a multi-floor university alumni center project where the technology allowed him to create a 3D model and accurately apply cost to each office space, common area and room, taking into account everything from ceiling height to cabinetry and flooring.

He is also upgrading and converting the company’s existing database into a new master format that will seamlessly integrate with DESTINI Profiler, work with any architect’s systems, and feed information directly into McCrory’s accounting software.

“The idea is to build a robust database, so when we have a client that comes to us with a similar project, I’ve already got the data in the system and can build the model on the fly, providing an accurate market price,” he says. “We’re able to estimate more projects in less time and reduce any learning curve.”

As the pricing database grows along with Solomon’s skills using the software, he has turned around small-building estimates in just a few days and large, highly complex projects within three weeks, allowing McCrory to get owners the estimates they need faster.

Building on two days of initial training in 2014 at Beck Technology’s headquarters in Dallas, Solomon receives ongoing support from Beck Technology via individual web conferences, adding to his arsenal of techniques for tackling specific challenges.

“It’s been very productive,” Solomon says. “They can see what stage I’m at on a project and offer the pointers I need to keep moving forward and developing my skills.”

Currently, McCrory is training additional estimators on the system and integrating DESTINI Profiler with DESTINI Estimator, streamlining the entire end-to-end construction process from estimating through project management, accounting, and production. Per Solomon, the combination will yield powerful results by embedding estimate line items with intelligence directly from the 3D models they were born from.

Cunningham-Limp Embraces Big Technology for Bigger Benefits

When Preconstruction Estimator David Hardin joined Cunningham-Limp in 2014, one of the first initiatives he spearheaded was the adoption of Beck Technology’s DESTINI Profiler estimating platform to win more work. Having seen a demonstration of the software at his previous employer, he knew it could have a big impact on the small design-build firm, which has fewer than 30 employees and a commitment to continuous improvement through technology.

“It works very well for conceptual estimating,” Hardin says. “We receive much of our business from repeat clients that know what to expect when they come to us, so we make quite a few decisions and assumptions based on past experience, and that level of decision-making fits well with what DESTINI Profiler is able to do. I could see a clear path; we could program the software to do exactly what we were doing manually.”

Read More

Choose the Right Technology and Software Platform in Four Easy Steps

This article was written by Stewart Carroll and published in the July-August 2016 issue of Design Cost Data Magazine.

When faced with tough business decisions of any type, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by uncertainty. There are many factors to consider before a company commits to moving forward with option 1, option 2, or option 3. What if there is another option that hasn’t been considered or there are unknown risks with the preferred option? From a management perspective, is this the right choice for the company’s future? From an implementer’s perspective, does the company have the resources and support to derive the value from the decision?

But choosing a software program doesn’t have to be one of those overwhelming decisions. Regardless of the type of software – be it estimating, accounting, project management or other, these four steps will help streamline the selection process, allowing you to make the right decision faster:

  1. Know your company’s objectives
  2. Secure support from management
  3. Evaluate solutions and vendors
  4. Create an implementation plan

Read more

Newsletter Q2

It’s hard to believe that we’re two quarters down and two to go for 2016. Are your business goals on track thus far?

At Beck Technology, we’ve had a busy second quarter with software releases for both our DESTINI Estimator & Profiler products as well as attendance and speaking at many industry events over the spring. Please find below a quick recap and links to learn more—and to watch our client project videos from the Beck Technology Roundtable.

Wishing you a great 4th of July holiday and a productive third quarter!

DESTINI in Action

Two Software Releases Now Available

The long-awaited DESTINI Estimator 2016 2.0 is here! If you missed our debut webinar led by our CTO
Michael Boren, we’ve provided a link below. Michael showcases some of the most-requested new features, including Navisworks integration and the 2D and 3D takeoff views.

Webinar Recording: What’s New in DESTINI Estimator 2016 2.0?

Also, this quarter
DESTINI Profiler 2017 1.0 was released. The update can handle extremely larger models as well as offers better support for Windows 10. When a 3D model is created, the software provides instant feedback on data such as cost, energy, lifecycle, and schedule.

The Early Bird Gets the Worm (or the Project)

Winning work has a lot to do with talent, but also plenty to do with timing. While other companies are still at the drafting table, Bouma Construction is already in the meeting room, presenting granular estimates and 3D models. Bouma wins work by using DESTINI Profiler to give clients the answers they need at the earliest possible point in the preconstruction process. Bouma’s Preconstruction Manager Corey Torres provides the case in point examples in this profile, including:

  • Bouma received a project call on a Friday afternoon and was able to turn around four building models (with different layouts and pricing) for a Monday afternoon design charrette with the client.
  • Bouma turned around a parametric building cost model for a five-story building in one day. The early cost model came in within 3 percent of the final submitted proposal.

Read Bouma’s full DESTINI in Action profile here.

O’Neal, Inc: Video Q&A

We recently sat down with David Hardy, Architect – Preconstruction Facilities Manager, with O’Neal, Inc. to discuss his views on DESTINI Profiler and Beck Technology. O’Neal uses Profiler to better communicate and engage with clients and to offer a way for client preferences to be implemented on the fly during meetings. The company uses the software for almost every project to help shape the direction in the early stages before entering the formal design phase. Watch the short video by clicking below.

Roundtable Videos Posted Online

Our annual Beck Technology Roundtable was held in April and featured content-rich presentations by our clients. For those unable to travel and join us, we’ve uploaded the videos, complete with a split-screen view of the actual presentation slides, to our YouTube account.

Please access the videos here:

In the News

Our team regularly posts short blogs on their LinkedIn profiles. They discuss technology trends in some though the primary focus is broader topics such as culture, hiring, millennials, leadership. Plus, you’ll find each full of personal anecdotes, questions, and even some wit.

We invite you to connect with our team on LinkedIn to follow and learn more:

Stewart CarrollChief Operating Officer

Michael Boren, Chief Technology Officer

Tyler BarronAccount Executive

Julie Huval, CPSM, Marketing Director

Sandy DamascoCustomer Experience Lead

Stewart has just launched a series on how employees impact company culture. His upcoming blogs feature some Beck Technology spotlights. Read the first blog featuring our QA Manager Stephanie Greene.

Coming Up

Webinar: Evaluating 5D Solutions

Please join us on Wednesday, July 27th at 10AM Central to hear from Nick Kurth of PCL. Nick will be sharing the evaluation process his company went through when selecting a 5D solution.

Take a Virtual Tour

If you’d like a firsthand view of the new features we’ve rolled out this quarter for DESTINI Estimator and Profiler, we’d love to you give you an online tour. Please contact us to request a personal demo.

The Early Bird Gets the Worm (or the Project)

When owners are ready to move on a construction project, they need answers about the design and how much it might cost—and they want answers quickly. The preconstruction group first to the table with accurate, detailed estimates and models has the best opportunity to build a customer relationship that can lead to winning the work.

While many competitors are still at the drawing board, firms using Beck Technology’s DESTINI Profiler can turn around a detailed 3D model and cost estimate in as little as one day, offering them an early opportunity to showcase their capabilities.

Read More

See DESTINI Estimator 2016 2.0 in Action

DESTINI Estimator 2016 2.0 is here, and its unprecedented new functionality makes the estimating process faster, more flexible, and more accurate than ever.

Beck Technology’s Chief Technology Officer Michael Boren hosted a live webinar, walking viewers through a few of the new version’s high-impact new features. Among them:

  • Takeoff view that shows quantities from 2D drawings and 3D models, including standard area, line, and count takeoff
  • Autodesk Navisworks® integration and filtering that lets you specify only the properties you need
  • Model comparison views to reflect changes and cost impact in 2D and 3D models as well as Microsoft Excel imports of estimates
  • Highlight rules to color-code any categories of estimate information you specify
  • Fee application, including the ability to specify distributed fees, bond fees, premiums and surcharges

If you missed the debut webinar, you can still see DESTINI Estimator 2016 2.0 in action.

Estimation Technology for Construction Recap

Stewart Carroll, Michael Boren, and Tyler Barron attended the 2016 Estimation Technology for Construction event in San Francisco this week. Stewart wrote a brief recap of the event.

Earlier this week about 300 preconstruction professionals came together at the Estimation Technology for Construction conference in San Francisco. This was the inaugural event of this conference and from the popularity, interest, and relevance of the agenda I suspect this conference will continue to be a major draw in years to come. Major topics covered during the conference included the evaluation and implementation of technology, the challenges and successes of a pure 3D world for preconstruction, and working in a hybrid world.

Michael Boren discusses the need for technology advancements in preconstruction.
Michael Boren discusses the need for technology advancements in preconstruction.

As a vendor who attends a fair number of these events, this event was well put together, the presentations were on topic and highly relevant, and overall this was one of the best industry conferences we have seen put together in a long time. One of the challenges with many industry events is that speakers focus purely on successes. This conference had some of that but also had a lot of discussion around what companies had tried and what the challenges were from people, processes, technology, and data perspectives. It was refreshing to hear how people were making changes and most importantly why. In speaking with many other attendees the sentiment was very positive towards this conference and everyone I spoke to had takeaways from the event.

 

My takeaway was that the world is changing. Project owners are seeking more insight into the ramifications of their decisions from a cost perspective and, as such, both general contractors and architects are trying to provide this. Technology is available to assist with this; however, people are not used to using it. Our processes are time consuming and the current inefficiencies associated with our processes needs to change. That said, it was refreshing to hear companies wanting to deliver more value and recognizing that our tried and true processes need to change and evolve.

DESTINI Estimator 2016 2.0 is Here!

DESTINI Estimator 2016 2.0 is now more robust with industry requested features. The next generation estimating platform now has a takeoff view that allows users to obtain quantities from both 2D and 3D documents. Additionally, the latest release integrates with Navisworks! All of the new features are listed below:

  • Takeoff View: A new takeoff view is available that will allow users to obtain quantities from both 2D and 3D documents.
  • Navisworks Property Filtering (white listing): To reduce the amount of unnecessary data that is displayed to the estimator, DESTINI Estimator has a white list functionality that allows users to specify only those properties that they will want to interact with when consuming Navisworks models for their 3D quantity takeoff.
  • Quick Access to Previously Used 2D and 3D QTO Documents: DESTINI Estimator provides a quick list of all documents that have been used to obtain quantities for an estimate.
  • Embedded 2D Takeoff: Users now have access to a fully integrated 2D takeoff platform. This includes the standard area, line, and count takeoff.
  • Ability to Tightly Couple Costs With QTO Objects: DESTINI Estimator goes beyond just mapping cost item’s variables to the properties of the 2D takeoff or 3D model. Once a line item or assembly is mapped to one or more items in the 2D document or 3D model a wide range of never before seen options become available. 2D takeoff objects and 3D model components now know about the cost items that are associated with them along with all of their properties. This means that if the user ties a concrete line item to an area takeoff object, not only does the area takeoff object know its price but the user can now filter their takeoff by any information that line item has access to like Uniformat or Masterformat classification without having to add any other information to the area takeoff.
  • Embedded 3D Takeoff: DESTINI Estimator can load a Navisworks .nwd file and quickly slice and dice the model on any information contained within that model so that the estimator can locate and quantify one or more components in the model and tie the costs in the estimate directly to whatever information they need.
    • Like the 2D drawings, each estimate has an unlimited number of 3D models that can be associated with it.
    • DESTINI Estimator can edit the information contained within the 3D model to allow the preconstruction team to compensate for inaccurate information or to better align the information in the model with how the team thinks about the project.
  • 3D Model Comparison: As a project progresses estimators are given new versions of the 3D model to reflect the changes in scope and definition. DESTINI Estimator has the ability to handle these changes by comparing the old and new 3D models and showing which components were added, modified, or removed as well as showing the effect on the cost items associated with those affected model components.
    • During this comparison, DESTINI Estimator goes into a review mode and allows the estimator to decide on how they would like each change to affect their estimate. DESTINI Estimator provides a set of innovative tools to allow the preconstruction team member to filter on each affected portion of the model, review the effect on costs for that section, and specify whether or not they want to keep the new updated value or revert to the previous value.
  • Highlight Rules: A new system has been added that will allow an estimator to color the rows in the Estimate View based on any criteria they would like. For instance, a user may want to color all line items that have been mapped to a 2D or 3D object blue and color all 0 quantity items red. There are an unlimited number of highlight rules that you can create and an unlimited amount of logic that can be put into each rule. The system even allows for rule priority so one rule’s color can overwrite another if it has a higher priority.
  • Reporting: With the addition of integrated quantity takeoff, the reporting functionality in estimator also has access to the quantity information which will allow preconstruction team members to create reports on their quantity takeoff.

Click the video below to watch an overview of DESTINI Estimator 2016 2.0.