Staying in the black: Small building firms that outsource their estimating

Without wishing to sound dramatic, for some building firms pricing their building projects accurately isn’t only about profitability; it’s often the thin line between solvency and a financial nightmare. Insolvency is a concern that casts a shadow over many building firm owners, given the complex mix of costs, risks, and market fluctuations. That’s why many building firms outsource their estimating. In these challenging times, HBXL Estimating Service has seen a significant increase in clients. Builders and developers have recognised the link between accurate pricing and financial stability. It’s all part of future-proofing their businesses.

To put it into perspective – according to Construction News, construction topped the insolvency table in 2023 with 4371 collapses. That doesn’t make pretty reading. No other industry in England and Wales faired as badly as construction. Also, worryingly, the building sector had the highest annual number of company collapses since 2009 and the global financial crisis.

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The pressures builders are under

Small building firms face a ridiculous number of challenges that can quickly tip the scales toward financial worries. Fluctuating material costs, unforeseen delays, and competitive pressures are just a few of the factors that can derail even the most organised builders. Perhaps the most significant challenge lies in accurately estimating the cost of an extension, renovation, conversion or new build.

Pricing building projects requires a delicate balance of factors. Too low, and the firm risks operating at a loss, unable to cover its expenses and sustain its operations. Too high, and potential clients may turn to competitors offering more competitive rates, leaving the firm struggling to secure contracts. In the construction industry, where profit margins can be razor-thin, finding the sweet spot is essential for survival.

This is where the HBXL Estimating Service…well…excels. Established in 2012, we combine the very latest estimating software with industry expertise. Give us your overhead and profit percentage, plus your preferred labour rate, and we’ll take it from there.

How does the HBXL Estimating Service work?

  • Send us your full set of plans and specifications and we’ll give you a price for completing the estimate work, plus a date for delivery. At this stage we don’t require payment, and you’re under no obligation.
  • Give us the go ahead, and payment is taken and we assign your dedicated estimator (note – some estimating services transfer a job from one estimator to another part-way through. We never do that).
  • As for the deadline – we don’t claim to be the fastest – to achieve 24 hour/48 hour turnarounds we’d have to share the job with more than one estimator – from day shift to night shift. That’s not for us. More, importantly we hit every deadline 100% every time.
  • You’ll receive a fully costed estimate, including all materials and quantities required, material prices based on the latest material rates, the labour required, plant requirements, plus a quotation for your client.
  • A set of 3D models (simulated drone shot, front, back, sides, internal) subject to the project’s suitability.

We also provide:

  • detailed cost reports by Build Phase and by Resource Type
  • detailed schedules (materials/labour/plant) by Build Phase and by Resource Type
  • suggested Build Programme (Gantt chart)
  • an editable MS Word file of the quotation
  • schedule of estimate assumptions so it’s clear what and what hasn’t been included in your estimate.

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Software compatible

Users of our sister company, HBXL Building Software, also have the advantage of being able to drop their estimate file produced by the estimating service into their EstimatorXpress software to tweak and update over time.

Why building firms should outsource their estimating to HBXL

  • We were founded by a builder turned property developer
  • We know the residential construction sector
  • We use the latest material prices – and we’re not tied to any one builders’ merchant for our products
  • We use professional in-house estimators who all have building experience
  • Our sister company’s in-house software developers provide us with highly-advanced estimating calculators for 100% accurate pricing. And they’re committed to a long-term development programme. So it’s only going to get better!
  • We pride ourselves on excellent customer care throughout – from the admin side to our diligence during the estimating process.

Perhaps most importantly, the HBXL Estimating Service helps small building firms feel confident about their prices. In an industry where trust and transparency are paramount, the ability to provide clients with accurate and detailed cost estimates can be a game-changer. Our most successful clients demonstrate to their own customers that they have a clear understanding of the project’s financial implications and are providing competitive yet realistic costs. The HBXL ethos is all about enabling building firms to position themselves as reliable partners capable of delivering value without compromising on quality.

What next? Send us your plans.

The worry of insolvency is always there for small building firms. Most are just one or two jobs away from a financial problem thanks to bad payers, errors, delays, sub-contractor problems… But by recognising the importance of accurate estimating in maintaining financial health, building firms can thrive. The focus can then turn to sustainable growth and profitability. Sounds appealing?

Have I convinced you? In an industry defined by uncertainty, one thing remains clear: pricing your building projects accurately and effectively isn’t just important – it’s essential for staying in the black and securing a prosperous future. So is it time to join the countless other building firms and outsource your estimating? Either give me a call on 0117 916 7894 or upload your plans here.