Building a new home can be overwhelming to say the least. Misunderstanding the process or tools involved could result in extensions or have a serious impact on the final cost. While budgeting can be useful, inexperienced customers may have plans for the final output that do not reflect the amount they are willing to spend. As an expert in home construction, it is your job to ensure that customers are able to anticipate costs and services that may not be initially apparent. While a conversation may help, having detailed guides or tools available for customers to review and use could help to start them off on the right foot with their home-construction journey.
A building cost estimator can be an extremely useful tool for customers in this newfound position. While there are plenty of calculators out there that will get the job done, there are huge differences between a simple calculator and a highly effective cost estimator. If you are developing a building cost estimator or are a customer in search of a useful tool, consider these four things that a home building cost estimator must have.
- Detailed itemized list. Since the purpose of a building cost estimator is to assist users in developing a budget for a project they may not be familiar with, a certain level of detail and expertise will be needed to ensure that the tool produces the most accurate cost possible. If a customer utilizers your estimator and it excludes a line for labor items or tools that an inexperienced person may not be familiar with, then they may not understand that these costs should be incorporated into the final cost and this could throw off their budget substantially. An understanding that all users may not be experts in this area should prompt you to incorporate your expert knowledge of home building into the line items of the calculator in order to avoid any mishaps.
- User-friendly approach. While a detailed list is important, it means nothing if the spreadsheet is not user-friendly. Since many different customers of varying levels of technology will be using your company’s spreadsheet, going the extra mile to make it easy to use and adaptable is a clear demonstration of the care that you put into your business and customers. According to Tech Republic, there are 10 things that make software user-friendly. These items can be applied to any tool used by a customer, including a spreadsheet, calculator, etc. This extra incentive will speak volumes in terms of the service offerings your business can provide and will encourage customers to seek out your expertise for future projects. Taking the time to consider the customer using your tool will help you to develop an estimator that meets the needs of everyone who uses it.
- Editing flexibility. While it is certainly important to plan for the worst and include every potential line item involved in a home-building project, it is important to understand that no two home-building projects are alike and therefore, additional line items may need to be added or others removed. That is why it is important to ensure that your company’s estimator provides flexibility to users so that they are able to customize the tool in order to meet their specific needs
- Guide. Although user-friendliness will help to ensure that navigating your tool is a simple process, an additional guide may be needed to cover any areas for consideration or explain why specific line items have been added. Remember, your tool will not always be used by experts who understand the inclusion of items such as the financial impact of making expensive structural changes in terms of the design. Creating a guide that outlines not only the tools needed but things for each customer to consider may save them money in the long run and create a better relationship between them and your business.