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How CAD Can Help Reduce Construction Costs


If you’re in the construction industry, cutting costs is probably high on your priority list. Labor, equipment and operation costs are on the rise, and it can often seem like there’s no way to get ahead. Could CAD be the key to reducing construction costs? In short, yes.

CAD stands for computer-aided design. Today, there are troves of CAD software on the market ready to help make your life a little easier. However, many people in the construction field are hesitant to make the switch. 

Why? Well, change is hard. When you’re used to designing the old-fashioned way, learning an entirely new skill (i.e., designing on a computer) can seem like a challenging task. But, if you knew that CAD software could reduce your operating costs, it might be worth giving it a try. Let’s take a look at how CAD can help reduce construction labor costs.

What Exactly is CAD Software?

Essentially, CAD software is any software that allows engineers, construction managers or architects to create illustrations or to draw digitally. Unlike the pen and paper, with CAD software, you can do 2- or 3-D designs. Because it’s all digital, everything is extremely precise, making it easier to accurately model and render building outlines. 

CAD software has been around since the 1960s, but it didn’t really gain a notable foothold until personal computers became the norm. Even though it’s been around for decades, there are still several people who don’t want to make the switch. Even if you don’t have any interest in computer design, and you consider yourself more of a purest, the cost reduction potential is something worth investigating. So, how does CAD reduce costs?  

How Does CAD Help Reduce Costs? 

Most straightforwardly, CAD’s precision allows for fewer costly mistakes. Think about it this way: How many times have you hand-drawn and scoped out the details for wood frame construction, only to get into the build and realize your measurements were slightly off?

These types of errors are costly and time-consuming, yet incredibly common. CAD makes it possible to design with such high accuracy that time-consuming and expensive mistakes are much less likely. 

But there’s more to it than that. CAD can dramatically reduce material and operational costs, too. Within most CAD software, you have the option to perform highly accurate takeoffs based on 3-D CAD drawings. 

Think about how painstaking your normal takeoffs can be. CAD cuts the time in half while still ensuring accuracy. You can easily pop other materials into your illustrations, like swapping shingles for faux cedar shake shingles and re-render the image and costs.  

CAD isn’t just a fancy way to create sketches, either. It’s equipped at handling intricate parts of the design process, like the electric and plumbing all the way down to the specifics of sealing doors and windows. It’s a comprehensive realm of technology that’s continuously evolving to meet the industry’s demands. Beyond that, the cost to use CAD software is reasonable, so even smaller teams can give it a try without breaking the bank. 

Is CAD Software Right for My Company? 

Do you want to increase your accuracy, reduce costs and ultimately increase your profits? Then, the simple answer is, “yes.” CAD is a terrific solution for any construction company, architect, or engineer who wants to increase their efficiency and accuracy while being mindful of the bottom line. 

Companies are developing new technologies every single day. The construction industry is notoriously slow at tech adaptation, but the longer you wait to jump on the technology bandwagon, the further you’ll fall behind. There’s no escaping the digital revolution, and there’s not any reason that you should want to. As we’ve discussed, CAD software is an indisputable tool for reducing costs. With computer-aided design software:

  • Your accuracy is higher.
  • Your material and labor costs are easier to manage.
  • Your takeoffs become less painstaking. 
  • You can design even the most intricate parts of every design. 

Ultimately, it requires getting started. Do a little research to see how CAD works, and don’t expect to be a pro right away. There will likely be a bit of a learning curve. However, the tech is much more user-friendly than it used to be. With a little determination, you’ll be on your way to creating comprehensive designs with CAD in no time, and more importantly, reducing your costs as you do it.

Matt Lee is the owner of the Innovative Building Materials blog and a content writer for the building materials industry.