tips for dealing with large estimates

for questions and conversations regarding estimating projects with The Assistant Estimating System
Post Reply
User avatar
John Whitling
All knowing
Posts: 91
Joined: Tue Dec 04, 2007 6:14 pm

tips for dealing with large estimates

Post by John Whitling » Thu Mar 08, 2007 11:05 am

The Gen 2 system can create some very large estimate files, especially if the project includes lots of casework. Since every item taken off is dynamic (meaning that all it's properties stay in formula) a large estimate can contain an incredible amount of formulas. It's not all that unusual for estimate files to exceed 100 megabits! As you can imagine, in any spreadsheet, when you get lots of formulas the calculation speed slows down accordingly.

To combat speed loss Gen 2 controls the calculation cycles, and that helps quite a bit. And we also built in a tool to help you control calculation cycles too. You control it with a button on the project summary that allows you put the estimate in a "quick calc" manual calc mode.

We also advise you to save an estimate in quick calc mode when you save a large estimate. It turns out that large files open quite slowly when in automatic calc mode. If left in automatic calc mode a 20 meg estimate file can take 3-4 minutes to fully open. The same file saved in quick calc mode opens in just seconds. That is because Quattro Pro, the calc engine we use, calculates each cell as a file is opened. Windows might even tell you the program is not responding. Just be patient and it will eventually come around. I guess the programmers really didn’t consider many users would ever create really large files like we produce today, but computers today are so much faster than what we had, even just a few years ago, that large files no longer pose the problems they used to.

So our number one tip .. when prompted, save the file in quick calc mode.

Tip number two .. You can open multiple estimates in Gen 2. Doing so slows down the calculation process accordingly. So don’t do it when you’re working with large files if you can keep from it.

Tip number three .. When you open multiple files, if any open file is set to auto calc mode, it will force a recalc cycle on all other open files, even if they are set to manual calculation mode. Because of this it might appear that the program is not responding. Just wait, it will eventually come around. But then if you followed our number one tip this is not a problem for you.

Tip number four .. When an estimate has over 400 line items it might be time to consider opening another estimate file to finish your project. Most likely, in a project of this size (often north of a million bucks) you will want to divide the work into multiple files anyway so you can phase the job or have multiple estimators working on different parts of the project. Once an estimate contains about 500 line items it can be difficult to get full material and labor reports out of the estimate. This is because there is a limitation of about 8,000 material entries in each estimate. A single cabinet can easily have over 20 materials in it so you can see that materials can add up fast.
Thanks for participating!

User avatar
John Whitling
All knowing
Posts: 91
Joined: Tue Dec 04, 2007 6:14 pm

Post by John Whitling » Thu Mar 08, 2007 2:13 pm

Can I adjust when the system prompts for me to save a file in manual calc mode? I would rather keep the small everyday estimates in automatic calc mode.

Yes you can. Open your master estimate file (click "create a new estimate" and then click "cancel' at the project information box) Then open the project info box and go to the system setup options tab. In there you'll find the adjustment for the number of entries in the takeoff before uyou get prompted to save the estimate in manual calc mode. We defaulted the setting to 40 but you can enter whatever you want. Then click OK to exit the project info box and save the master file.
Thanks for participating!

Post Reply