CostWorks: Building Modeling at it's best and a very in-depth detail-item database
August 05, 2016

CostWorks: Building Modeling at it's best and a very in-depth detail-item database

Bryan T. Piper, CCP | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 9 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User

Software Version

CostWorks (legacy)

Overall Satisfaction with CostWorks

In my previous position as Eastern Regional Estimating Manager of Design for Jacobs Engineering, I used CostWorks to develop models for preliminary task orders and to develop ROMs for the building of the 1391 documents used by many federal government entities. I also used CostWorks to validate current estimates that were submitted to me for review. I did this by utilizing the modeling feature in CostWorks to build a very similar facility/building in CostWorks that most closely resembled the current facility/building that I was reviewing. I then utilized the UniFormat Preliminary Cost Report to validate the cost/SF and compare it to the current estimate cost/SF for the same UniFormat line items. This allowed me to give the estimate a sanity-check and also pointed out areas that may need further investigation into their cost structure.
  • CostWorks is very good at generating quick and valid estimates for standardized facilities such as office buildings, schools, etc. It allows you to validate other cost estimates at the UniFormat level when doing an estimate validation.
  • CostWorks' database of detailed line-items is a very resourceful asset when it comes to finding a very specific line-item. Sometimes, when using Success or MII, I will have CostWorks open on the other screen so I can find an item that the other softwares just don't have and build it into the other software from the CostWorks entry.
  • CostWorks does a very good job of generating reports that are both well-developed and have enough detail at the summary level to be able to sit with a client or a project manager and have them follow along and understand without being overwhelmed with detail and numbers.
  • When I export a CostWorks project into Excel, it only hardcodes the entries and does not utilize the calculating functions of Excel. If I have to make adjustments, based on the client's request, I have to go into each hard-coded cell and build the formula that calculates that raw number.
  • Also when exporting to Excel, the report has to immediately be reformatted for column-width and vertical spacing that should already be part of the export script.
  • When building a SF model in CostWorks, sometimes there is a need to use a square footage that is outside the boundaries of CostWorks. There should be some override function that will allow you to continue without having to continually override the maximum or minimum SF entries.
  • I don't really see any "negative" impacts on my business or my ROI by purchasing CostWorks. It's a valuable tool that we use, however, some of my colleagues do not use it or use it very infrequently.
  • I find it well worth the cost even though we don't develop complete estimates in CostWorks due to client dictated softwares.
  • It has provided very quickly-built estimating models that let our team and project managers know that the RFP or the task that they are contemplating bidding on or starting to work on is actually feasible to construction given the budget and directive.
  • MII, PACES, Timberline and Success

CostWorks is a unique software for estimating as compared to the other softwares I have listed above. PACES is mostly used for federal modeling and really cannot be compared to Costworks. It has its own developed modeling database and has its own quirkiness and issues.

MII has been developed for the USACE and utilized a user-developed folder structure and RS Means Database. I use CostWorks along side this software to find line-items that are not in the MII RS Means Database.

Success has been developed for NAVFAC and again, utilizes a user-developed folder structure and RS Means Database. When I use this software, I ALWAYS have CostWorks open on the other screen as Success' RS Means database is extremely lacking when it comes to the number of detail line-items.

Timberline is by SAGE and I use it mostly for DOS and FAA work. Of the 3 RS Means Database softwares, this one has the most detailed database for reference, however, there are times when I do have to look up an item that Timberline does not have and the first software I open is CostWorks.

Again, CostWorks is very good at developing models of standard industry facilities/buildings, and it does this very accurately and efficiently. It is not a software that I would use to develop a very detailed line-item cost estimate that would possibly need several revisions to it over the course of the estimate deliverable cycle. And it would not be one I would use where the estimate needs to be broken down into phases or areas of construction. It just doesn't have these capabilities, and maybe it shouldn't. However, it is an excellent resource for running along side other estimating softwares in that its database of line-items is one of immense depth and as I stated before, I use it all the time in conjunction with my other client-specified softwares so that I can find line-items that those softwares just do not contain.