Accurate estimating can make all the difference on today’s construction projects. Yet with so many different name-brand materials on the market, it can be hard to best figure out pricing on the part of the estimator.

Today we are seeing a convergence between technology for the material manufacturer and that for the builder and contractor. There is definite value to be had on each side of the equation, and technology providers are stepping to the plate and enhancing product sets in order to help bridge the gap between the two worlds—which in the end could end up lowering costs across the board.

One example comes from MiTek, www.mii.com, Chesterfield, Mo. This component-manufacturing company has developed 3D structural design software, providing technology that is more collaboration driven for the homebuilding project. The core software offering is called SAPPHIRE Structure with a free app delivered to builders called SAPPHIRE Viewer.

On the estimating front, one of the recent products to hit the market comes from PlanSwift, www.planswift.com, Henderson, Nev., called SwiftMarket. As an add-on to its PlanSwift Takeoff and Estimating Software, this product allows users to estimate using specific brand name products from various manufacturers.

The tool is designed to allow precise targeted advertising of product from materials manufacturers to the demographic of clients for which their product is designed and marketed. For manufacturers, it becomes branding power, for estimators it is a chance to be exposed to new products&–not to mention the convenience of accurate estimating based on specific product.-

Knowing that the contractor will be deploying software in multiple ways, PlanSwift is delivering this product with options. For example, SwiftMarket comes in multiple interfaces from SwiftMarket Desktop for local desktop installs, as well as a cloud-based option.

For contractors, the value also comes in the form of special offers from the manufacturer. For instance, the manufacturer could offer coupons to those who estimate and buy their product, and even use feedback from users to develop and launch new products.

Finding the best prices on materials doesn’t need to be a guessing game. Today’;s construction-software providers are helping builders and contractors realize this to be true, and are providing the solutions that help take the guesswork out of material pricing.