The Palmetto Brick Co. in Cheraw, S.C., says it has created a new estimating tool that increases the materials efficiency of brick work and could save builders $300 to $500 per job.

"This is a useful tool that will be beneficial to contractors," says Andy Rogers, Palmetto's vice president of sales and marketing. Builders, he says, will be less likely to under or overestimate the amount of materials needed on a job and thereby increase the efficiency of the project.

According to Rogers, builders typically sub out brick work to contractors, who intentionally over order so they don't run out of materials on the jobsite. But the problem, Roger says, is that builders are overcharged for the work and then must pay for removing waste and excess materials from the site.

The estimating calculator lets builders enter square footage of the space and select desired brick type. The tool then gives the number of bricks needed, as well as the number of bags of cement and tons of sand required for the job. In addition to increasing the efficiency of the materials ordering process for small builders, the tool also allows bigger builders to see if a contractor estimate is fair.

The tool also will prove useful when changes are made in a project. "Builders often upsize the brick during installation," Rogers says, either for aesthetics or other reasons. Because the calculator lets users select from different brick sizes, builders can use it to estimate how many of a new size are needed.

The tool can be found at www.palmettobrick.com.