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Message From the President: Do You Know Your Numbers?

Having been employed as a contractor for more than 18 years, 13 focused on Tilt-Up, I have never seen such economic times. I hear from the “old” guys about some of the bad times in years gone by, but the recession we are in now is testing all of us. Because of this, we find ourselves pulling out all the stops to get that next project or win that next bid. Since estimating is my area of expertise, I challenge you to know your numbers if you want to succeed.

It’s no secret that the number of Tilt-Up opportunities has diminished. What hasn’t changed is the opportunity to target other building systems (precast, masonry, steel) and get them converted to the Tilt-Up system. To do this, you need to know your numbers. Do you know what your Tilt-Up costs are? How have your material and labor costs changed over the last year? Have you researched the costs for all the various finishes an owner may ask for on that next job? If the answer is no, you better start doing your homework. Owners out there today, set to build a project, expect cheap prices. If we as Tilt-Up professionals are to compete with these expectations, we better understand costs, and most important, how to compare our system with the competitors.

Systems Cost

Whether it be steel frame with brick and stucco, brick on CMU back-up, or precast, get an understanding of cost per square foot based on building type, complexity and quantity. Make calls to general contractors or the subcontractors themselves. Know these costs like they were your own so you can make accurate cost comparisons.

Systems Design

A very specific requirement, I believe you need to fulfill and to be able to fully compare building systems, is to intimately understand the design differences between these structure types. How can you sell an owner that Tilt-Up is cheaper if you’re only looking skin deep? You need to understand cost impacts related to changes in the foundation design, floor and roof framing, and impacts to mechanical and electrical systems.

Constructability and Design Impacts

Aside from how the building is engineered, you must also take into consideration impacts of Tilt-Up construction on site logistics and how you will build the project. Crane access, topography, casting requirements, these are all serious factors for cost. Lastly, don’t forget design costs. In some cases I know my architect and engineer spent more fees designing one system over another, so be sure to understand these differences.

So, as we sell Tilt-Up to get that next project, be sure to know your business. Establishing credibility in proposing cost saving alternatives starts with doing your homework. Be sure to prepare well thought-out cost estimates that contain credible and substantiated costs. In the end, they just might believe you and select your firm for their next project!

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TILT-UP TODAY, a publication of the Tilt-Up Concrete Association, is THE source for Tilt-Up industry news, market intelligence, business strategies, technical solutions, product information, and other resources for professionals in the Tilt-Up industry. A subscription to TILT-UP TODAY is included in a TCA membership. Subscriptions for potential TCA members are also available. If you would like to receive a complimentary subscription to the publication, please contact the TCA.