AN INVESTIGATION ON THE USE OF SPECIALISED ESTIMATING SOFTWARE BY QUANTITY SURVEYING FIRMS IN KENYA

ABSTRACT
The construction industry in Kenya has experienced massive growth over the last few years. This growth has led to the increase in number of institution of offering the quantity surveying course; it has also led to an increase in the number of quantity surveying firms in Kenya. Despite this growth and development, quantity surveying firms are yet to optimally utilise technological advancement. Taking off is still done manually despite the existence of specialised estimating software. The key objectives of this study are to identify the extent of use of specialised estimating software by quantity surveying firms in taking off and to investigate the efficiency of these software in taking off compared to the conventional methods. In addition, the study ought to establish the challenges that construction firms experience in the adoption of specialised estimating software. The research method used was a survey in which the respondents completed questionnaires and the data obtained was then analysed using Microsoft Excel spreadsheet.
The study findings indicate that 91% of the quantity surveying firms are aware of specialised estimating software although not all of them use these software; however, over half of the respondents (55%) indeed use these software. Autodesk Quantity Take Off was the most widely used software followed by Bluebeam Revu and others such as ArchiCAD. Most of the respondents indicated that there were benefits of using specialised estimating software in taking off thereby demonstrating the importance of these software to quantity surveying firms. These benefits include more accurate measurements, faster take off, reduced paperwork, and minimisation of errors. The findings revealed the challenges of using software compared to conventional methods. These disadvantages include lack of first hand software expert, software programme crashing, higher risk of loss of information, and incompatibility in software packages among others. Quantity surveying firms were requested to state the factors hindering them from obtaining specialised estimating software; some of the reasons stated include unwillingness to change, lack of sufficient information on software, lack of expertise, and management decisions.
The study concludes that although majority of quantity surveying firms were using specialised estimating software, the uptake of these software is still low. BIM was the most popular software although it is used by very few firms. The two main benefits of using software in taking off compared to the conventional methods are speed and accuracy. The study recommends that software education is incorporated in universities and tertiary institutions curriculum, seminars are organised by professional bodies to train practicing quantity
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surveyors on the use of specialised estimating software, and quantity surveying firms should train and educate their employees on efficient use and application of these software. Finally, research should be carried out on specialised estimating software to identify the most suitable software for the Kenyan quantity surveying market. The study also recommends areas of further study, these are; a comparative study should be carried out on the different specialised estimating software to determine the most suitable for quantity surveying firms in Kenya and a case study should be carried out to investigate the difference between two similar construction projects; one done with the use of specialised estimating software and the other done using the conventional means.