On my blog, I write about how Artificial Intelligence (AI) is impacting the construction industry and how it is slowly helping construction professionals to automate and streamline more routine tasks.

I am not saying that AI will replace construction estimators anytime soon or at all, but I think estimators and trade contractors should really pay attention to AI and implement AI for construction estimating can do for them.

This will help them become more efficient and productive, and also stay ahead of the curve and not get left behind in the future.

What is Construction Estimating with AI?

Just like other aspects of construction, AI is starting to be used in the planning and as ai in construction estimation of construction projects. Traditional estimating software is being updated to include AI, or new AI-powered construction estimating software is being created to help estimators get their work done quicker and more accurately.

With AI, floor plans and designs can be uploaded to the estimating software. The majority of items, like walls, doors, and windows, can be automatically detected. The quantity and dimensions are taken off, and the price is estimated.

The software can be refined by estimators for accuracy and custom labeling, and auto-detection can be created to make the software work better with their custom projects.

All in all, AI construction estimating software is the next iteration of AI for the construction estimating process.

Illustration of a detailed architectural construction site with a crane and overlaid blueprints, highlighting various stages of building development.
Illustration of a detailed architectural construction site with a crane and overlaid blueprints, highlighting various stages of building development.

Reasons You Need to Know How to Use AI Construction Estimating Software

Now, I am not saying that the AI monster will be taking your job as an estimator anytime soon, but for sure it is starting to infiltrate almost every area of the construction industry.

In my opinion, the biggest reason you need to learn how to use this software is to stay ahead of the game. It might take a few years, but other estimators who know how to use and refine AI estimating software will hands down be quicker and most likely more accurate than you.

The software is not perfect at this stage by any means but is always getting better. You will just get left behind if you don’t start learning now and keep up with this trend.

Step-by-Step Instructions on How to Use AI Construction Estimating Software

  1. Understand what AI construction estimating is, what it can and most importantly cannot do.

  2. Understand how to pick the best software and how to use it.

  3. Overcome challenges and concerns.

  4. Keep up with future trends and advancements.

  5. Utilize resources and tools for further study and assistance.

Understand What AI Construction Estimating Is, What It Can and Most Importantly Cannot Do

One of the many applications of AI in the construction industry is for cost estimation. Traditionally, most construction cost estimation methods relied on manual processing, which can be time-consuming, prone to errors, and may not always account for all the factors that can affect project costs.

Let’s face it, after you have done multiple takeoffs, does it get more interesting or exciting? Ultimately, AI can help take a lot of the grunt work out from your takeoffs and estimates, freeing you up for more strategic work. You can even use specific AI takeoff software to do this for you.

AI can help address these limitations by using advanced technologies such as using machine learning models and predictive modeling. Let’s break these down:

In construction estimating, machine learning algorithms can analyze vast amounts of data from past projects to estimate construction costs, including material costs, labor rates, project timelines, and more. By identifying patterns and relationships within this data, the algorithms can predict construction costs for new projects with increasing accuracy.

You can also train the software with your own custom labeling to increase accuracy for your particular projects.

For the estimating part of the estimation process, predictive models take into account various project-specific factors, such as location, materials, project complexity, construction process and historical data, to forecast costs more accurately than traditional methods.

By combining these AI technologies, construction estimators can benefit from improved accuracy and consistency in their cost estimates. Additionally, AI-powered estimating can lead to time and cost savings, more efficiency, and enhanced decision-making capabilities by providing more reliable and data-driven insights.

However, it’s important to remember that AI is not a magic solution; it still requires quality data, skilled personnel, and proper implementation to be effective.

A construction worker in a high-visibility vest and helmet using a laptop on a work site.
A construction worker in a high-visibility vest and helmet using a laptop on a work site.

Understand How to Implement AI in Your Estimating Process – An Overview for Most Software

Let’s take a look at how to actually implement AI in your estimating process. Here, I’ve tried to break it down into concise steps that are broadly applicable to most AI estimating software.

Step 1: Evaluating and Selecting the Best AI-Powered Estimating Software

The first step is to research and evaluate different AI-powered estimating software solutions available – and there are quite a few! Look for software that aligns with your project requirements, budget, and existing tools and processes.

During the evaluation process, consider factors such as the software’s ease of use, data integration capabilities, and the level of support provided by the vendor. Good providers will have extensive tutorials and manuals for deep learning of the software, and the even better ones will have technical support.

My best advice here is to make the most of demonstrations by the suppliers and free trials to really test drive at least three different software options before making your decision.

Step 2: Data Preparation and Cleansing

For AI to work effectively, it needs accurate data specific to your projects. You will need to review the outputs carefully, especially at the beginning, to make sure the AI understands and so you can be confident you are getting accurate results.

It is best to get this data from your projects so it is very specific to your location. Once you have the data, it’s important to clean and format it correctly. This may involve removing any errors, inconsistencies, or missing values, as well as standardizing the data format to ensure compatibility with the AI software.

Step 3: Training and Calibrating the AI System

After you’ve prepared the data, it’s time to train the AI system. This involves feeding the historical project data into the machine learning algorithms, allowing the system to identify patterns and relationships.

During the training process, you may need to calibrate and fine-tune the AI system to ensure it’s providing accurate and reliable estimates for your specific projects and requirements. You are the best judge to predict costs for your projects and your work, so really spend time doing this – yes, it’s a pain.

3D cutaway illustration of a house showing interior and structural details, overlaid on architectural blueprints with a stylus pen beside it.
3D cutaway illustration of a house showing interior and structural details, overlaid on architectural blueprints with a stylus pen beside it.

Overcoming Challenges and Concerns

While AI offers many exciting opportunities for construction management and estimating, it’s natural to have some concerns or face certain challenges during implementation. Let’s address some of the common ones and explore strategies to overcome them.

Common Concerns and Misconceptions

One of the biggest concerns people often have is the fear of job displacement. They worry that AI might replace human estimators altogether. However, I think that is not something that will happen anytime soon and maybe not at all. But what I do think will happen is that if your role is a more back-office type role that can be automated, you really should upskill.

AI is designed to assist and augment human capabilities, not replace them entirely. If you can become an AI operator, you will be far ahead of your colleagues or competitors. On the flip side, if you don’t adapt, you very well could be left behind.

Estimators with AI skills will be in high demand as their expertise will be needed to train and oversee the AI systems.

Another common concern is data privacy. With AI systems relying heavily on data, it’s important to ensure that sensitive project information and client data are handled securely and in compliance with applicable regulations.

Reputable AI software vendors prioritize data encryption and have robust security measures in place. It’s also essential to establish clear data governance policies and protocols within your organization.

Ensuring Data Quality and Availability

For AI to work effectively, it requires access to high-quality and comprehensive data. This can be a challenge, especially for organizations that have historically relied on manual data entry or have siloed and disparate data sources.

To overcome this, you may need to invest in data integration and data cleansing efforts. This could involve consolidating and analyzing data from various sources, removing errors or inconsistencies, building systems, and standardizing data formats.

Additionally, it’s crucial to establish data management practices that ensure ongoing data and quality control and availability as new projects are completed.

Future Trends and Advancements in AI Estimating Software

Although still new, AI estimating will get better in the future. Here are what I think will be the future trends in the cost estimation predictive analysis process in the industry:

Integration with Building Information Modeling (BIM)

One of the biggest trends will be the integration of AI with Building Information Modeling technology (BIM). BIM is a process that involves creating digital models of buildings, which contain all the necessary information about the design, construction, and operation of the building.

AI-Driven Risk Assessment and Mitigation

Another exciting development will be the use of AI for predictive maintenance, risk assessment and mitigation. Construction projects can be very complex, and there are always risks involved, such as delays, cost overruns, or safety issues.

Regulatory and Compliance Considerations

As AI becomes more prominent in the construction industry, there will be a need for new regulations and guidelines to ensure that these technologies are being used responsibly and ethically.

Governments and industry organizations will need to address issues such as data privacy, algorithmic bias, and transparency in decision-making. They’ll need to make sure that the AI systems are not discriminating against anyone and that their decisions can be explained and understood.

Conclusion on Using AI Construction Estimating Tools

As we all know, the construction industry is slow to evolve to new market trends anyway. However, the fact that there are a lot of construction companies either updating their existing estimating software or creating new AI-specific software shows that there is a real appetite for AI construction estimating.

I think that AI is still in its infancy, but it will get better in a relatively short time. As it integrates with other construction disciplines such as BIM and regulatory requirements, the AI estimating software will become smarter, and the need for estimators to be proficient users of construction technology will be greater than ever.

Similar Posts