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Why costbooks are still relevant in the construction trade

Why costbooks are still relevant in the construction trade

Those who work in the construction industry know the beams and bright orange vests we are accustomed to seeing on a construction site are only half the job when it comes to creating new buildings and structures.  The other half is the work that comes before that.  This includes the planning, estimating, and bidding process which can in certain aspects take precedent over the hard labor.  If your estimates are not correct, or you have not included all the materials in your plan, then the ultimate outcome will reflect that on your bid.  If your bid is not to the liking of the owner then chances are you will not be getting the project.  Accurate bids and estimates are key to keeping your costs low and winning the bid.  Since the dawn of time, people want projects to be as inexpensive as possible, and the lower your costs are the better chance you have of coming out on top. 


Why are costbooks still relevant for the construction industry?  For reasons we have pointed out above, the bid is extremely important to the project.  But as time progresses, the relevance of costbooks seems to be waning.   Whether that is due to the increased information we have access to on the internet which helps contractors find project material costs and changes or the fact that physical books as a whole are a declining industry as information moves more toward a technological base.  But costbooks still retain their relevance just as much today as they did 20 years ago if not more.  Here are four reasons why cost books are still useful in the construction industry, and maybe four reasons why you should pick up a few copies for yourself.


1.  They provide you with the most accurate estimates on the market

Accuracy is the most important part about a bid.  If your estimates are not accurate, then you can kiss that offer goodbye.  Owners want the most accurate estimates because there is no point in the numbers if there is going to be a drastic change in the final figures.  A Costbook can provide you with the latest up-to-date prices of material, labor, and equipment costs.  Obviously, it’s impossible to get the perfect set of numbers that will not change from bid to the finished product, but costbooks help you include the most accurate numbers possible in your final bid. 


2.  The time it saves you will be useful in the long run

Creating a bid and laying out the project step by step takes time.  As we all have learned in the business world, time is something that cannot be bought and is constantly lost.  So why waste time trying to look up material and equipment costs from different websites while also trying to make sure they are up to date.  The time you can lose from creating your bid can be immeasurable.  Costbooks provide everything you need in one compact book.  No need to look up items separately or find websites that are good for a only handful of material costs.  Everything is together for your convenience.  It might not seem like time is worth saving, but when the bid is due the next morning, every minute counts. 


3.  Easier to use than anything else

The world is progressing at an extremely fast rate.  Pretty soon self driving cars will be just as common as smart phones in the work place.  Technology has moved at such a fast pace it barely gives anyone time to master the programs they need to be successful.  There are plenty of estimating programs that allow you to put your numbers in and get the results, but nothing will ever be as dependable and reliable as generating the numbers yourself.  A costbook keeps things simple instead of relying on programs that are constantly changing.  Not to mention technology is not always the most reliable method when it comes to working properly or not crashing, a costbook is the easiest way to go.  Sometimes it’s better to take a step back and use what you are comfortable with instead of “keeping up with the Jones.”


4.  The project ideas will help you envision your project better

Included in some costbooks are layouts and project reports of actual projects.  They are not examples or envisioning of something that never progressed past the planning stage, but actual real-life projects.  Reading about the process and planning of a real-life project will not only help you visualize your project better but it will also make sure that you cover all your bases when it comes to materials and equipment.  When it is “crunch time,” we all make mistakes, not on purpose, but because we don’t even think about them.  Looking at these projects and matching your materials with theirs will help you avoid those shortcomings and come out on top with your bid. 


No matter how much technology advances or the job site changes, costbooks will always be a relevant resource in the construction industry.  Making a bid is still one of the most important aspects of construction and costbooks will always help you to create the most accurate offers.  There are many different types of cost books to fit the needs for your offer.  BNi Building News offers a wide variety of costbooks from electrical to home remodeling to general construction to mechanical.  At BNi Books, you can find the perfect manual to help you win that bid.  Check out all of our costbooks and other great estimating titles at!

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