Interview - October 2003
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EMAIL INTERVIEW  Clifford McGarvey & Ken Sinclair

Estimating Building Automation Construction Costs 

Clifford McGarvey is President of BAS Estimating, Inc. an estimating software development company

Please send comments and questions to

Sinclair:  First, let me welcome you as a contributor to 

McGarvey:  Thank you, Ken, I'm glad for this opportunity to be a contributor to your magazine. Every month I'm impressed by the quality and depth of your magazine. 

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Sinclair:  You wrote an article about job cost estimating that was published in our August magazine. Later you told me that the responses you received gave you another learning experience about the nature of our business. What did you learn?

McGarvey:  I learned most people are using spreadsheets, which have limited flexibility as compared to an application specific program; others are using a pencil and an adding machine, which requires a good memory and a lot of time; and I talked to one contractor who is still counting interface points and assigning a dollars per point to arrive at his sell price. From this I learned that there are a lot of people still inventing the estimating wheel. 

Sinclair:  Who requested copies of your program? 

McGarvey:  I was surprised at how far reaching your magazine is. I received requests for my program from Canada, Lebanon, Nigeria, New Zealand, Singapore, Israel, and almost every State in the US. 

Sinclair:  What are the benefits of an application specific estimating program? 

McGarvey:  An application specific program is consistent, fast, accurate, flexible, and it has easy to follow steps. I like an application specific program because, when I'm estimating, I can put more of my attention on the total system estimate "with confidence" instead of trying to constantly recall every job particular. Do you remember how much more you learned about mathematics after you bought a calculator to do the repetitious work; an application specific program will help you the same way, to view the estimate as a whole system. 

[an error occurred while processing this directive]Sinclair:  What size companies would be interested in an estimating program? 

McGarvey:  Every size company could use an estimating program; but it would be especially beneficial to the independent contractor or system integrator who is affiliated with a national company. Large companies will appreciate a program that accommodates any automation system; temperature controls, lighting, card access, fire protection etc.

Sinclair:  In the past estimating programs have been very expensive, is that still true? 

McGarvey:  As always it's best to shop around. Software prices are coming more into line with the value you will receive. If the Demo Program is informative, and the price is not disguised, a selection should be easy. You're probably looking for the "No Spin Zone" - the price should be less than $1,000.00.



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