Feb 20, 2024

My journey to improve preconstruction starting with BuildingConnected and finishing with Ediphi

My journey to improve preconstruction starting with BuildingConnected and finishing with Ediphi

My journey to improve preconstruction starting with BuildingConnected and finishing with Ediphi

I started working on the idea of BuildingConnected in 2010, but I didn’t finally quit my job until March 2012 to pursue an ambitious goal that I had no idea how to accomplish. I wanted to fix the bid process for good.

I don’t care what classes you’ve taken — nothing will ever prepare you for the journey of being an entrepreneur. Everyone thinks you’re a little crazy, but you know deep down that you’re going to change things for the better. You’re absolutely driven to fix a problem.

Finding opportunities to make change

While I didn’t know how to achieve my goal, I knew I had identified a fundamental problem in the way construction communicated — it was way too much work. Traditionally, contractors have maintained a contact database of subcontractors to send invitations to bid. Without exception, that requires tremendous time to keep up to date.

I realized that if we could eliminate data upkeep, we could provide enormous value for our industry and build a terrific business. I don’t think BuildingConnected reached its full potential for a variety of reasons, but it will always make me proud that we were acquired by Autodesk for a life-changing outcome — and to see companies try to replicate the BuildingConnected network.

Why do I bring up the problem we identified at BuildingConnected? Because, at Ediphi, we’ve identified much bigger problems that no one is addressing in construction tech. Estimating is the most important service we perform in construction — it represents the cost for the customer to achieve their objectives for that project. But estimating is both an art and a skill and takes decades to perfect. Unfortunately, the tools we have to support it have not evolved in 20 to 30 years.

A lack of innovation

If you’re an estimator, you know there has been no innovation in estimating since Sage came out in the late ‘90s. The biggest innovation has been that you could access your estimating software through the internet using a Citrix login. Today, they try to make it sound modern by calling it a "cloud solution." But that is not a cloud application.

It’s a hoax perpetrated by companies unwilling to reinvest in modern infrastructure. The dream of model-based estimating has failed, and the status quo just doesn't work anymore. Most companies use separate, disconnected systems for conceptual/parametric estimating, cost estimating, GCs/GRs, and communicating with project stakeholders about value engineering options. The innovation just hasn’t been there.

Rather than address the fundamental problem, most startups are working point solutions around the issue. But these estimating tools were built when estimating was an event — a one-time step in preconstruction. The estimating solution the industry needs today should be built to support a process.  

Taking a whole new approach

At Ediphi, we aren’t just trying to move estimating to the cloud. We’re trying to support contractors from the first time they speak with customers about costs to finalizing their GMP and procurement in one application. There’s a ton of communication that happens between having an idea and breaking ground — but those communications and workflows are offline, in Excel, or trapped in someone’s inbox. That’s what we’re working to fix.

Today, Ediphi supports cost modeling, detailed cost estimating, GCs/GRs, and buy-out in our application. We also aren’t just line items and assemblies. We’re bringing new concepts to the market like massing your project with parametric data, defining rooms and units, and streamlining cost allocations across assets. In 2024, we will move to providing value engineering (VE) and stakeholder communication.

Applications that require a Citrix login will never be able to support those functions. It’s a fundamental problem with those types of architectures. We believe that if you can more effectively communicate about how the estimate is evolving every step of the way, it will result in more client satisfaction and better stakeholder alignment for a more successful project overall.

I admit this is an audacious goal, but we are trying to create the preconstruction platform construction deserves — the most advanced cloud-based estimating solution on the market. I think it’s about time a company actually tries. People thought I was crazy to quit my job and start BuildingConnected. You have to be a little crazy to attempt a startup — and especially crazy to try a second one.

But what I think is crazy is that this platform doesn’t exist today. We’re looking forward to showing the industry a better way to manage preconstruction.