Trends in estimating for 2024

Construction industry
Trends in estimating for 2024

Over the past year, the team at Countfire have continued our mission to build the future of estimating software, and on a daily basis our product specialists hear about the challenges, trends and developments in the industry from our customers. 

As well as adapting to emerging trends through the software we develop, we also wanted to look at wider trends affecting the estimating industry as a whole.

Here, we share five key trends expected to impact electrical estimating in 2024. ‍

1. Automation and AI to enable faster, more efficient estimating

In any trends report there is always talk of new technology “disrupting” the industry. Often the hype of such technologies outweighs the reality. However one type of tech that will no doubt continue to be utilised more and more by estimators in 2024 is automation.

Traditional estimating and even many estimating softwares, are still based on traditional processes. Paper printouts, manual takeoff and hours of time spent granularly checking for inaccuracies while estimating. But automation tools are changing the way electrical estimators work, making the process faster and more efficient.

Studies suggest companies are putting significant investment and budget behind their effort to utilise technology, with more than 45% increasing funds for AI capabilities by more than 5%. In 2024, we believe even more estimators will follow this trend and adopt automation and AI not to replace human labour, but to reduce error and increase productivity.  

By adding a level of automation into estimating (for example, using true automated takeoff to count all symbols across drawings), more time is left for estimators to get their heads into the finer details of the project. 

Similarly, estimating tools built on a level of artificial intelligence can begin to learn common estimating techniques used by estimators. For example, if you regularly price a certain component the same across all estimates, this can be automatically priced within a new estimate, saving time where manual effort isn’t required. ‍

2. Increasing client demand for energy efficient systems

We’ve noticed a growing emphasis on providing estimates for systems explicitly designed to enhance energy-efficiency and promote environmental sustainability. This shift has naturally evolved in response to the broader global focus on sustainable practices, carbon emissions reduction, and the drive to minimise energy consumption. 

Estimators are now playing a pivotal role in several key aspects of this trend, including the seamless integration of renewable energy sources, the incorporation of energy-efficient lighting solutions and the use of advanced building management systems. These systems have the capacity to automatically optimise lighting, HVAC, and other energy-consuming components, effectively reducing overall energy consumption. 

Many clients and organisations are prioritising sustainability and demanding energy-efficient solutions that align with their goals. Estimators will need to be responsive to these client demands, ensuring their estimates reflect a commitment to both energy-efficiency and environmental responsibility. 

3. ‍Switching from fluorescent tube lighting 

Effective September 2023, the UK is set to phase out the use of fluorescent tube lighting in alignment with the revised EU Commission Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) Directive. The prohibition stems from the mercury components found in specific fluorescent lighting tubes, such as T5 and T8, prompting manufacturers to guarantee mercury-free products. 

Consequently, electrical estimators will need to seek alternative lighting solutions to use in all upcoming projects to ensure compliance with the new regulations. LED lighting is emerging as the most popular choice, recognised for its energy-efficiency and cost-effectiveness, making it the optimal solution for transitioning away from fluorescent lighting.

4. Hybrid and collaborative working 

The pandemic brought about a profound change in the way many businesses and organisations operate and this shift has had a lasting impact on estimators. Many of our customers have made the permanent transition to remote or hybrid-working arrangements, and we believe (as remote-workers ourselves) that this trend is firmly here to stay. 

A survey by Forrester shows that 40% of Europeans now work remotely at least some of the time, and many people now anticipate greater flexibility in working from home. Several countries have already brought in new regulations to formalise the right to work from home. 

Consequently, there’s been a huge surge in demand among estimators for cloud-based tools, like Countfire, which they can rely on to complete estimates digitally and seamlessly while working remotely. 

Due to this seemingly permanent shift in working arrangements, many estimating companies are continuing to invest in “cloud-native” applications that can support this. We believe there will also be an ongoing high demand for tools that offer collaboration & “multiplayer” working practices. These tools will play a crucial role in replicating the productive dynamics of the “in office” environment, providing estimators with the means to create effective estimates and win more projects.‍

5. Increased uptake of DFMA to keep down costs

The use of DFMA (Design for Manufacture and Assembly) is a keystone in helping the industry reduce its carbon footprint, reduce the number of HGV deliveries and provide quicker installations, as well as the many health and safety benefits. 

In 2024 we predict a continued uptake of DFMA. With supply and labour costs both still increasing, as well as a shortage in labour generally, DFMA could help estimators to take back some of the profit being lost.

Prefabricated common components for jobs can be done during downtime, making onsite installation faster. This also reduces the time needed for workers to be onsite, which can further assist with remote-working and flexible hours. It also allows firms to buy common assemblies and components in bulk, therefore preventing the danger of running out if stock becomes low or wait time increases due to supply chain issues.‍

Final thoughts 

Looking at the challenges that the estimating industry continues to face, 2024 has never been a better time to reassess how your team will move towards a more digital, and cost-effective model in order to get ahead. 

To start with an automated method of efficient estimating, get your free 14-day trial of Countfire.