Labour Shortage (Part 2 M&E Estimators)

Part 1 of this Blog Series focused on Training as a way of helping to bolster, build and develop Mechanical and Electrical Contractor’s Estimating Departments.

ESTIMATING-ME have been working on a number of different training programmes to help this so please feel free to send your request for training to


This Part 2 will focus on Technology as a means of helping Estimating Departments and Estimators perform more efficiently.

As the world comes out of the Covid-19 Pandemic, the Construction Industry is seeing huge growth at present due to a number of reasons. Some of these are listed below.

  1. Projects which had been temporarily put on hold due to the uncertainty are now been given the green light by clients and developers.
  2. The demand for housing.
  3. Energy Targets which the government need to meet.
  4. The demand for Data Centres and Pharmaceutical Plants which is set to remain for at least 5 more years.

These reasons (although not an exhaustive list) mean there is a lot of opportunity currently in the market. Contractors are seeing tender volume’s at a never seen before level. Clients and Developers are demanding shorter turnaround in tender periods in order to get their projects fast tracked and ready for “The big re-opening!”.

Demands on Estimating Departments

These demands on Estimating Departments mean Companies and Estimators are having to find faster and more efficient ways to complete tenders.

One of the ways they are doing this is by utilising Counting Software. Historically Estimators would print off the drawings. They would then use a set of take off sheets to manually count the number of devices on each drawing. This is an extremely time-consuming exercise which can take the Estimators away from the more important tasks.

Counting Software uses computer technology which recognises the symbols and automatically counts the drawings for you. A Counting Software which we use in house and have found to be a game changer is Countfire.

The Future of Automated Estimating

The Game Changer status comes when there are a number of floors or drawings of the same discipline (General Services as an example). Once the drawings/symbols are counted correctly by the Estimator on the first drawing, they will be automatically counted on the following drawings. A quick check should always be done but this is more for good practice.

This means that a multi-story building which would have taken between 3 to 5 days to count can now be done in half the time and in some cases even quicker. (Once the drawing symbols are put on correctly by the Consulting Engineering/Designer)

With the above in mind we have put together some Pros and Cons of the Countfire Software and listed them below.


  1. Reduces paper work and can help Contractors move closer to being a paperless office.
  2. Reduces time spent by Estimators counting drawings manually. This time would be better served reviewing the big cost and high risk items for the tender.
  3. Due to the reduction in time counting it can increase Departments tendering capabilities.
  4. It reduces the risk of symbols being missed as the computer will scan the whole drawing. Even if a symbol is not clear to a human eye the computer programme will pick it up.
  5. The symbols can be copied. This means if a mid-tender drawing revision comes in, the drawing does not need to be fully counted again. The Estimator just loads the new drawing revision up on the Countfire Software and the Software will redo the counts for the new drawing.
  6. Countfire is a brilliant tool to do the tender to construction comparison with.
  7. Countfire has a PDF comparison tool which is great for comparing revisions of specifications. When a revised spec comes in during the Tendering period a full review does not need to be done. Instead the 2 specs are loaded onto Countfire and it does an automatic comparison.


  1. Notes on Drawings can be missed if counts are done in a rush and drawings are not fully reviewed. (This can happen during manual counting and there is not much the Software can actually do here. However it is important to note that we feel it is a little bit more of a risk when using a Counting Software)
  2. Containment still needs to be measured manually. (This can still be done on the Software so it keeps all your Counts and Measurements in one place)

As you can see from the Blog we are a fan of the Countfire Software and would give it 9.5 out of 10.(Allowing room for small improvements). We are so happy with the software that we have joined the referral programme. If you would like to hear more on the software please feel free to contact us on Alternatively click on the link below and have a free trial to see for yourself.

Happy Counting!

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