How Using AI for Construction Plans Improves Precision and Saves Time

Written by Bridget Cooper

DateApr 8, 2024
Reading time9 min read
software and construction site

The potential for AI is huge, but for estimators, construction companies, general contractors, subcontractors, construction managers, and other construction industry professionals, AI isn't just a far-off idea. It's a practical tool they can use today to simplify their work.

Sure, we're early in the game, and Artificial Intelligence isn't without its limitations, but its current capabilities are already impressive, particularly when handling construction plans. It can swiftly sift through intricate plans, accurately identify necessary trades, and digest dense construction specs.

In this guide, we’re going to take a closer look at how you can use AI to do these tasks.

Note: if you want to use the best AI for construction plan, try Downtobid. Our software scans your project plans, automates personalized bid invites to relevant contractors, and has a dashboard to track all of your responses. Our tool helps you achieve 100% scope coverage and Increase your subcontractor participation and bid coverage. Try us free today.

Using AI to Go Through Construction Plans

Large, complex projects can come with construction plans stretching up to 300 pages or more. For any estimator, flipping through each page can feel like a chore -- a necessary, yet grueling, part of the job that nobody looks forward to.

You're trying your best to catch every detail, figure out the construction cost estimates, and understand who you'll need on your team throughout the project lifecycle. So expectedly, you’ll often miss something important.

This inefficient process often leads to two all-too-common and unwelcome outcomes:

  • Costly delays: Under the weight of time constraints, it's easy to overlook crucial information. And we all know what that means—unexpected delays and change orders that inflate costs, something everyone wants to avoid.
  • Time crunch for subcontractors: Spending excessive time poring over construction plans can set off a domino effect. Subcontractors are given a tighter timeframe to prepare their bids, which can lead to hastily assembled, potentially inflated bids, or even a reluctance to bid at all due to the rushed timeline.

This traditional process of finding scopes in project plans can monopolize anywhere from 4-8 hours of your day.

But with AI, you can now afford the luxury of being thorough without sacrificing speed. In approximately 20 minutes, AI algorithms can dissect a project's plans, spotlighting necessary trades, materials, and critical details that once might have been overlooked.

With that said, here are two ways AI can be helpful with your construction plans:

AI-Assisted Page-Turn and Detail Highlighting

Small, but critical elements can easily be overlooked amidst hundreds of pages of dense information, especially given the reasons we've laid out above.

AI can help by highlighting keynotes, schedules, and phrases that are relevant to specific trades and organizing this information cohesively. For instance, in the provided example below, AI was able to identify all mentions of metal doors across various sections, such as architectural and structural, providing a comprehensive overview that's much more than your basic "ctrl-f".


Unlike the traditional ctrl-f function, which searches for specific keywords (like "door" or "hardware"), the AI version digs deeper, searching across construction concepts. This means if you're looking for doors, you get the whole package - door schedules, locations on the plans, spec details, warranties, manufacturers, door types, and whether substitutions are allowed.

Readability & Summarization

Think about those hefty specs that easily run over 300 pages. They're filled with essential details, sure, but also packed with so much boilerplate text. Yet, missing details could spell trouble.

The solution? AI-powered readability and summarization. AI can distill the specs down to summarized versions, ensuring that crucial information doesn't slip through the cracks.

Below is a before and after comparison of specs - where the red highlights the exact specs, and the green showcases what the AI summary looks like.


Not only is it easier on the eyes but it's also a better way to parsing through complex plans efficiently and effectively.

Using AI to Increase Bidder Response Rates

The success of construction projects hinges not just on having detailed plans, but also on having the right project teams. The challenge?

Subcontractors today are drowning in project invitations, often receiving hundreds of solicitations each month. It's incredibly easy for your invitation to blend into the background noise, resulting in subpar bids or, worse, no bids at all.

The key is to make the bidding process as frictionless as possible, prioritizing the needs of the subs from the get-go. This involves:

  • inviting them only to projects that suit their expertise
  • ensuring the project scope is accurately defined so they know exactly what is expected, reducing confusion and rework.
  • providing straightforward access to project plans and documentation to help with quick and informed decision-making.

There's a lot of work that goes into accomplishing this, and here are just a few boxes that you'll need to tick:

  • Personalize your bid invites, offering a customized overview of the project and how it matches their expertise to engage their interest.
  • Use compelling subject lines that highlight what's unique about your project, such as its size or location, to spark interest right from their inbox.
  • Ensuring there's a straightforward way to access project data
  • Use a strategic follow-up rhythm, such as two or three well-timed messages, to keep your project on their radar without overwhelming them.

Manually managing these tasks can be a slog and a huge time sink. Thankfully, the heavy lifting doesn’t have to fall entirely on your shoulders thanks to AI. Take Downtobid, for instance, an AI-powered tool that simplifies bid solicitation.

For starters, with Downtobid, you get a curated list of recommended local subs that's tailored to your project's trade and location. You can either send an invitation to your preferred subs from this list or use our extensive subcontractor network to explore additional options.


Plus, our AI helps by suggesting the most effective times to send out your ITBs, so you're not just casting a wide net but fishing smartly and strategically.

Our platform also creates personalized ITBs that greet subs by name, nods to their previous projects, and recognize their specific expertise right from the get-go. These ITBs also come with concise scope summaries, allowing subs to quickly gauge if they’re a good match for the project without going through lengthy plans.

*Email Template.png

This approach serves a dual purpose: Subcontractors receive ITBs that match their expertise, sparing them the hassle of bidding on unsuitable projects. Meanwhile, you save time you'd otherwise spend clarifying project details with back-and-forth emails, making the whole process a seamless win-win.

To top it off, any necessary follow-ups are set up to run on autopilot, with the system fine-tuning the timing and frequency as the proposal deadline approaches.

How To Use Downtobid

Now that you have a thorough understanding of AI's role in preconstruction, you're likely wondering how to use this technology for your own projects.

Luckily, getting started with Downtobid is a breeze, and here's a simple guide to help you through the process.

Upload Plans

To kick things off, click here to navigate to a page where you can upload your construction project files for AI analysis. Remember to also input your email address so that Downtobid can notify you once your analysis is ready for viewing.

*Create Project.png

Plan Analysis

Upon uploading your plans, Downtobid's AI goes to work, analyzing each page to identify the scope and create tailor-made bid packages for your review.

This step can take anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes, depending on your project's complexity. You'll receive an email notification once it's done, and your customized bid packages will be ready for examination.

Review Your Bid Packages

Once you log in, you'll find a list of bid packages that Downtobid's AI co-pilot has put together for you. Each one comes with a scope sheet showing:

  • the bid package description
  • instances where scope was detected in the plans
  • and a list of recommended subcontractors for you to invite

*Project Information.png

For instance, check out this analysis for a new Discount Tire project processed by Downtobid's AI. You can also [follow this link to see it in action]

metal sheet

The AI zipped through the 40+ sheet plan set in about 6 minutes, flagging 31 potential scopes and providing outline scope summaries and pieces of evidence directly on the drawings.

Subcontractors Bid on the Project

Subcontractors don’t even need their own Downtobid account to jump in on your project’s plan room. They get to see only what’s relevant to their work.

Downtobid cleverly organizes the plan room into four folders:

  • Plans
  • Specs
  • Photos


Every page is sheeted, indexed, and given a title, making it very easy for subs to find what they need at a glance.

Respond to Bids

Finally, to keep things streamlined, any emails from subcontractors are routed straight to your inbox. This means you can manage, track, and respond to all your project-related emails from one place, saving you time and keeping your headspace clutter-free.

Wrapping Up

Downtobid offers tangible wins for both GCs and subcontractors alike. For GCs, it:

Makes the hunt for the right project team a lot simpler by matching you with local, qualified subs for your construction sites, which in turn, simplifies project planning, streamlines construction project management, and accelerates the construction process

Helps you easily sift through your construction plans to pinpoint exact bid packages, saving time and increasing efficiency.

Allows you to ramp up the accuracy of your page turn, ensuring no scope is missed.

On the flip side, subcontractors also get their own set of benefits, making Downtobid just as valuable for them. Here's how it helps them:

  • You get detailed analytics on the win/loss ratios of the bids you’ve sent, helping you refine your strategy.
  • It automatically scans every plan and bid invite, detecting scopes relevant to your trade, ensuring you never miss an opportunity.
  • Projects that match your expertise are added to your personal bid board, complete with all essential details like deadlines, GC information, and more, keeping you organized and on track.

The best part? Jumping on board with Downtobid doesn't cost you a thing to start. You can upload your construction plans for free and take the platform for a spin.

It’s a great way to see firsthand how it can improve your bid solicitation process, making it faster, more accurate, and hassle-free.

Written by Bridget CooperUpdated on Apr 8, 2024

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