Editing Commands
File Maintenance
Creating New Elements
Master Libraries
Formulae Functions & Operators
Filing Utilities
Element Schedules
Room Data
Running Calculix
Worked-Up Data
Vertical Data
Site Layout
General Bill Data



  1. Elements
  2. Element menu
  3. The Element Worksheet generally
  4. Element data
  5. General Element information
  6. Element Name
  7. Element Type
  8. Element Description 
  9. The Element Variable Dimension Fields
  10. Description for Variable Dimensions in Elements
  11. Individual item entries in an element 
  12. Saving, Updating and Abandoning Records in Elements
  13. Moving Through Pages of Data in Elements
  14. A Valid Item in Elements
  15. Non-Productive Items in Elements
  16. NULL items (Optional items) in Elements
  17. Scratch Pad in Elements
  18. Notes in Elements
  19. On-Screen Description field in Elements
  20. a/d Description Variable in Elements
  21. Adjustment Code in Elements
  22. Component Dimensions in Elements
  23. * Dimension in Elements
  24. ? (Question mark) in Elements
  25. Item Code in Elements
  26. The +/- Field in Elements
  27. Measurement Units
  28. Tonnes
  29. "kt"
  30. Special Units "IT" & "it"
  31. The BLANK Unit, Preambles & Preliminary Items
  32. Line Number in Elements
  33. The Formula in Elements
  34. Insert and Delete Lines in Elements
  35. Processing a Series of Elements
  36. Copying Elements
  37. Element Search
  38. Item Code Memory Buffer in elements
  39. Element Usage
  40. Unused Element Report
  41. General Descriptions - Preliminaries and Preambles in elements
  42. Adjustment Codes in Elements
  43. Adjustments to other Elements
  44. Element Pricing



The Room Data Worksheets contained references to all of the functional components of the building ( such as walls, floors, doors, windows etc.) Each of these functional components will contain all of the cost significant items which form the basis of the Traditional Bill of Quantities. These functional components are called Elements and the creation and editing of these is a major part of the taking-off process in the calculix system.

It is a feature of calculix that the nature of the items that make up the Elements are very flexible and can be varied to suit the needs of the user. In this way a variety of Elements will cover the needs of different applications such as SMM Bills, Builders Quants and cost planning etc..


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Element menu

The facilities that are available for Manipulating the Elements are shown on the Element menu. The processes are based on the entry of data on the Element worksheet. In addition to the usual menu options ( See Menu Section - Chapter 1 ) the Element Menu also includes to Special facilities - "Element Usage", "Unused Elements Report" and "Search Element". The features are found in the Utilities sub-menu and are described in detail at the end of this Chapter.


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The Element Worksheet generally

This worksheet provides for the manipulation of Element data in the CONTRACT files. The data may be Edited, Added to or Deleted by using the options provided.

Elements may be copied from the Master Element Library but the Master Library cannot be Edited, Added to or Deleted from whilst you are working on a Contract file. In order to modify an Element from the Master Library, it is necessary to leave Calculix Contracts and on the Calculix MAIN MENU enter the Master Element Library option.


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Element data

Element data is divided into two parts. There is some general information which relates to the Element as a whole and there is a series of entries each of which describes an individual item in the Element.

The general information is entered at the top of the worksheet and is always on display whenever the Element is being used.

The individual entries for each item within the Element occupy one line of the worksheet and successive entries appear on successive lines and on successive pages as the Element is built up. There is a maximum of 99 items to each Element.


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General Element information

Each Element contains information which relates to the Element as a whole. This information describes the Element and also contains any useful dimensions which define the Element rather than any particular item within the Element.


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Element Name

Each Element is identified by a 6 Character name. The characters can be alphabetic and/or numeric but the complete name must be unique within any particular contract. The system will not allow you to create a new Element if the name you have given it is already used.


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Element Type

There are a number of element types according to the function that the element performs. There are nine types referred to by number and they are as follows:

Ordinary element 1
Wall element 2
Floor element 3
Ceiling element 4
Wall finish element 5
Nested element 6
Pipeline data 7
Autotrad data 8
Schedule data 9

The use of the type field in conjunction with the position in which the element is located on the room data sheet ensures consistency and eliminates error, ie using the wrong type in the wrong place.


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Element Description

This is a 60 character description field which describes the Element and it's contents.

eg Standard window type C - steel lintel

The description is not used anywhere in the Bill documentation and is provided to help in identifying the different types of Element for ease of use. The field is not mandatory and can be left blank if desired.


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The Element Variable Dimension Fields

There are 6 fields for entering any dimensions which relate to the Element as a whole. A manhole for instance will have a cover level and a ground level which are crucial to the Element as a whole but which affect a number of items and don't specifically belong to any particular item.

The fields are labelled L, W, H, A, B and C. They are not mandatory and are to be used only when convenient. The whole Element can be easily constructed without the use of these fields but in a number of situations it will be much easier to use these fields rather than insert dimensions in a variety of places throughout the Element.


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Description for Variable Dimensions in Elements

Each variable field has a 20 character description field which is used to describe the value that is to be entered in the field. The description is displayed by pressing <HOME> when the cursor is positioned on the appropriate field.

The description is created and edited by pressing <F11> whilst on the appropriate field. The field is displayed at the bottom of the screen and the description can be entered directly from the keyboard.

The Element Schedule feature makes extensive use of these variable dimensions.


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Individual item entries in an element

Basically each item in an Element occupies a line of the Element data worksheet. The amount of data in each entry is too long to fit onto one VDU screen and the worksheet is, therefore, divided into two parts.

The main part contains :

Item Brief Description
three Component Dimensions
Line Number
Formula incorporating:
Item Adder
Dimension Variable
Nested Elements
Measurement Unit

The second part contains:

Adjustment Code
Item description code

The second part can be displayed in place of the line number and formula by pressing <F6>. Once <F6> has been pressed all subsequent element displays will show the Item Code instead of the formula. The formula can be re-displayed by pressing <F6>.

Autocode can be used to access and edit the Item Code when the cursor is located in the description field and it is not necessary to have the Item Code on display in order to use Autocode.

Similarly the description itself can be displayed by pressing <F11> from the description field. It is not necessary to have the Item Code on display.

It is possible to move between pages of the element worksheet quite freely using the <PAGE DOWN> key to move forward to the second page and subsequent pages and the <PAGE UP> key to move back to the previous page.

Each complete line of the Element Data worksheet represents a record and will normally produce an item in the Bill.


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Saving, Updating and Abandoning Records in Elements

The data in the worksheet is written away by pressing <END>. You will also move to the next page of the worksheet when <END> is pressed. The current input data is abandoned by pressing <ESC> at any point in the worksheet.


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Moving Through Pages of Data in Elements

Each worksheet represents a Page of data. You can move forwards to the next page using the <PAGE DOWN> key and backwards to the previous page using the <PAGE UP> key.


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A Valid Item in Elements

In order to make a bill item, an element worksheet entry must have both a valid Item Code and a valid formula. If one exists without the other, calculix assumes that an error has been made and will print an appropriate error message. These messages can be suppressed when the relevant field has been left out on purpose. ( see Scratchpad and Null items )

If the formula field is Blank or empty the line will not be processed but if a description code exists on the line an error message "No formula" will be produced.

NOTE that a Blank entry means that no characters of any kind are entered. An entry with O (zero) is a definite entry and is both valid and useful. An entry of " " (space) is also a definite entry although this is not valid and will give an error message.


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Non-Productive Items in Elements

There are three circumstances in which it is convenient to create a item in an Element worksheet which will not go on to produce an item in the Bill of Quantities.


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NULL items (Optional items) in Elements

It is a feature of Elements that they can include a number of optional items that may or may not be required. These optional items can be entered into the Master Elements and then deleted if not required but it is generally more satisfactory to label them as not required so that the processor will disregard them when processing the Bill. This is done by entering a hash # in column 1 of the formula field which tells the processor that this line has been deliberately suppressed.

NOTE that an item will also be suppressed if it has no entry in the formula field but in this case an error message will be produced during the Validation process).

When inserting a # it is not necessary to delete the existing formula. You can INSERT the # at the beginning of the line leaving the formula intact.


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Scratch Pad in Elements

The scratch pad facility allows the use of a line of a formula for calculations without generating a Bill item. Since no other entry is made on the line an error will normally be produced during the Validate data indicating that there is "No Description Code". This message can be suppressed by entering a hash # in column 1 of the Item description field.

This feature can be used for any purpose but it is specifically intended to:

i) enable larger formulae by doing some of the work on a scratch pad line

ii) simplify the formula presentation by entering a calculation common to several formulae on a scratch pad line and then quoting the scratch pad formula where required.


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Notes in Elements

The use of text as notes to the contents of the work sheet.

e.g. a line containing "Deduct" clearly indicates that the following items are deductions without creating an item of its own.

To use a line for Notes or Comments, the worksheet must be "hashed out" by entering a # on column 1 of the Formula field


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On-Screen Description field in Elements

The Description field on the left-hand side of the worksheet is provided to give a general indication of the item contained on the line. It serves no purpose outside the worksheet and does not contribute in any way to the description which will ultimately appear against the item when the Bill is produced.

This field is also used for entering any description that is to be used with the a/d facility. The Text that will be stored in the a/d field will be everything entered in this Description field after a Quote mark " . See Chapter 12 for details.


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a/d Description Variable in Elements

Because of the a/d facility the " mark should not be used in the Description field except in conjunction with a/d. Do not use the " mark as dittos for instance.


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Adjustment Code in Elements

The Adjustment Code is a two character code. The first character of the code must generally be either W-Wall, F-Floor or C-Ceiling or E-Element and the second character must be either an upper case character or a number. The only exception to this is in Pipeline elements.

The Adjustment Code is an advanced facility for using short coded references to items which occur in more than one Element. This is a very important feature of the Calculix system and is fully described at the end of this Chapter.


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Component Dimensions in Elements

The relevant sizes of all measured items are kept separate to the descriptions to which they belong. The data is entered in the three columns l, w and h. The dimensions are entered in decimal metres. Trailing zeroes are not required here. When the Bill is produced these dimensions will form an integral part of the item Description.

The format of these dimensions, when printed in the Bill, can be chosen on the Basic Bill Format worksheet.


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* Dimension in Elements

If a dimension associated with an item is required for use in a formula but is not required in the printed description of the item this can be achieved by typing an * (asterisk) in front of the number in the appropriate dimension field.

e.g. Concrete is measured in cubic metres so the depth of the footings is useful in calculating the amount of concrete required but the depth is not required in the concrete description.


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? (Question mark) in Elements

Instead of having elements using default dimensions, a ? (question mark) can be entered in any of the dimension fields which will prompt the user to enter a real dimension and will ensure an error message if no dimension is actually entered. This is an alternative option which can be used if required.


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Item Code in Elements

The code given to each individual item is a very important part of the calculix system.

Each Bill item will have a Description that describes it in detail. It will also be associated with other descriptions such as Trade headings which will ensure that the item appears in the correct position in the finished document.

In fact each Bill item requires a number of descriptions to cover the relevant Work Group, Trade, Elemental Section, Sub-section, Specification etc. The Item Code used for each item is, therefore, a combination of a number of individual Description codes each of which will itself produce an appropriate description and which together will provide a unique code for collecting like items and ensuring that the Bill is sorted into the correct order.

The individual Description codes are explained in the section on Descriptions.

The selection of the required description codes to make up a complete Item Code is the job of AUTO-CODE. AUTO-CODE is a comprehensive facility for analysing and synthesizing codes and their associated descriptions. The procedure is described in the Auto-Code Section of the manual.

The description relevant to an Item Code can be displayed by pressing the <F11> function key when the cursor is in the Item Description or Item Code fields.

As a result of the composite nature of Item codes it is clear that some descriptions will be included in a number of different items. When formatting the Bill, calculix prints only the first occurrence of a description and all further references to the same description are ignored. This is done in strict order of processing so that whilst a description will appear only once in a consecutive series of items, it may re-appear later under another heading. For instance the Trade heading BRICKWORK will appear only once and all following items which included the code for BRICKWORK will be included under this heading.


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The +/- Field in Elements

The quantities generated by the system can be either plus or minus (adds or omits). This is indicated by either a + or a - in the +/- field. One or other of the two signs must be entered when a new entry is created. Once an attempt has been made to create an item on the first part of the worksheet it is not possible to move on to the second part until a sign has been entered. If the <PAGE DOWN> or <END> key is pressed with a sign missing the cursor will be moved to the first instance of a missing sign and an entry must be made. Subsequent <END>'s will move to succeeding missing signs until all entries are complete and then the second part of the worksheet will be displayed.

If, after all processing, the aggregate quantity of an item is negative it will be printed in the bill as a minus quantity.


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Measurement Units

The Unit field is a two character field and can contain any required combination of characters. Normally the Bill document will be printed out with the Units printed exactly as entered in this field but there are several common SI units which are translated from a two character code into the commonly used form during processing. Details of these common Units are set out in Appendix D. Some of the Units make use of the ability of certain printers to print special characters. The facility for this is set out on the Basic Bill Format worksheet.

There are four entries in the Unit field which are treated as special cases. These are described below.


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All quantities, except tonnes, are printed in the Bill to the nearest whole number. Quantities with a unit of t (or kt) will be printed out to either two or three decimal places depending on the appropriate selection on the Basic Bill Format.


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Calculix uses a special unit called kt which means that the input data is assumed to be in kilogrammes but the output will be in tonnes This allows the use of much more manageable weights per unit length in the take-off but ensures that the Bill is in tonnes.


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Special Units "IT" & "it"

This feature refers to the special types of bill item which are actually called "items" and are identified by having a unit of "Item". Normally these do not have relevant quantities and if a calculix entry has a unit of "IT" any associated quantity will be disregarded when the Bill is produced.

Sometimes, however, particularly on repetitive work, an item occurs in each section of the work and it is desirable to pro-rate the item across the various sections i.e. to use the number of occurrences of the item in the preparation of the Bill, Valuation Chart etc.. In order to do this calculix recognises a second kind of "Item" which will have a quantity factor just like an ordinary bill item. To do this the Unit field must be entered with "it".

In both cases the unit in the Bill will be printed as "Item" but one will have a quantity and one will not.


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The BLANK Unit, Preambles & Preliminary Items

The need for Preamble and Preliminary items in the bill is provided for by the special case of leaving the Unit BLANK. If there is no Unit the Description of the Item will be processed as Text but no quantities will be included. Note, however, that the formula field of the item must still contain a valid entry if the Description is to be processed. The Text is omitted if the formula is NULL. This is a useful facility and is explained in more detail in the appropriate section at the end of this Chapter.

NOTE This is not to be confused with suppressing the Quantities in a Bill. This is provided for by setting the appropriate option in the Specific Bill Format worksheet.


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Line Number in Elements

Each entry on the Element worksheet is identified by a unique Line number in the range 1 to 99. This establishes that there can only be 99 entries for each Element. The Line number appears before the Formula field but the number is used to identify all of the fields on the same line.


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The Formula in Elements

The Formula provides the information that the computer uses to calculate the quantity for each and every item of Element Data. The Formula is a very important feature of the Calculix system and is fully described in the next Chapter of this manual.

The Formula is normally displayed on the Element screen but can be swapped for the Item Code using the <F6> key.


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Insert and Delete Lines in Elements

A new line can be inserted by pressing <F7> in any position on the line where a new entry is required. The inserted line will take the next line number and all lines following will be renumbered in strictly ascending order.

A complete line can be deleted from the Element worksheet using the <F8> key when positioned on the appropriate line of the Element.

If a formulae is deleted from an element, other formulae that referenced it will be changed to reference formula number 99; if a formula is inserted, formulae that reference formula 99 will be renumbered to reference the newly inserted formula.


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Processing a Series of Elements

Several processes involve processing more than one Element at a time and to do this a special facility is provided which allows you to specify a continuous series of Elements. The routine is called automatically by those processes which use it and asks for the code of the first Element in the series and the last Element in the series.

The From and To records do not have to contain real codes but can have partial codes which "bracket" the relevant Elements. The entry part of the "From" record will be filled with low-value ASCII characters so that all codes that contain the visible part of the code will be included. Similarly the entry part of the "To" record will be filled with high value ASCII characters so that all codes containing the visible part of the code will be included in the selection. e.g. from e..... to e.....will include all Elements with a code starting with "e".


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Copying Elements

Elements can be copied from within the Contract and from the Master Library. The usual procedure is to select the closest Element from the Master Library, copy it into the Contract File and edit it to suit the particular contract. This Element will then be copied and edited to suit the different variations within the contract.

Select the element you want to copy and then the code you want to give to the copy. If you are copying within a Contract, the two codes must be different. In any case, the new code must be unique to the contract.

The copying process is divided into two stages. Firstly, the contents are copied. When the copy is complete, the screen displays the message "Edit the New Element?". If you do want to Edit the copy enter yes, if not, enter no. The Edit process is then the same as the ordinary Edit. If you <ESC> the Edit, you will be left with a copy of the original Element.


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Element Search

The Element search facility within the Utilities sub-menu enables you to find every item that matches a specified value in any field, in any Element, on a Contract. The routine starts with the 'From - To' selection which allows you to identify a section of the Element library for the Search. The default selection, made by pressing <END>, is to Search all Elements from First to Last. Alternatively, Element codes can be entered to limit the search to a particular area of the library. Having selected the area of Search, the screen displays a Blank Element item line showing the usual fields:

The Search routine will find any item which matches the pattern entered on this line. As much, or as little, as required can be entered, but the routine will only match items which contain all characters entered. To increase the usefulness of the routine, the Item Code can be entered with "wild card characters" when a part of the code is unknown. The "wild card character" is _ (underline or underscore) and this should be inserted wherever a code is not known.

e.g. If a Special Working Condition code may exist but is unknown, enter an _ in column 4. Similarly, if an installation code may exist, enter an _ in column 2 and 3.

When the required code has been entered press <END> and the search will commence. Each and every item containing the selected entry will be displayed. Whilst the record is on display it can be edited to suit. Changes made in this way will update the Element concerned in exactly the same way as if the Element itself had been edited. When you have made all of the necessary changes to the record press <END> to continue the search. The search will interrupt at the end of every Element in which a match was found. Press <END> to continue, <ESC> will abandon the search.

During the search the bottom line of the screen will display the name of the element being searched, the number of items in the element, the number of those items which matched the entry and the number of items which were changed. At the conclusion of the search, the screen will display the total number of elements that were investigated.


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Item Code Memory Buffer in elements

An Item Code can be stored for copying to another location. Whenever <F11> is pressed whilst in an Item code field the description of the item is displayed and the item code is stored in a buffer. The code will be copied to a new item location by re-pressing <F11> provided the new location is empty. If the new location is not empty, then the description of the code will be displayed and the Item code will replace the one stored in the buffer. The contents of the buffer are not cleared when the code is copied into a new field and the process can be repeated as many times as required or until a new code is stored in the buffer. Only one item code can be stored at any one time, but, except at start up, the buffer always contains the last entry recorded. Codes can also be stored by using auto-code The <F11> functions described above are now also available in the Worked-up Data worksheet. These functions do not buffer codes into New Environments.


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Element Usage

Each time an Element is mentioned in the Room Data a separate record is created which keeps all of the same Elements together. These records can be displayed to see how many times each Element is used and where. The Element Usage options are within the Utilities sub-menu.

There are two types of report available

The Summary list merely tells you how many times each Element is used.
The Full list tells you in which rooms each Element occurs, how many times and the total usage throughout the Contract.

Each report can either be displayed on the screen or sent to the Printer.

The Element Usage does not include references to Elements which are "Nested" within other Elements. For details of Nesting see the appropriate section in the Formula Chapter.


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Unused Element Report

A simple check to ensure that all elements are used is available with the Unused Element Report. This report lists any Elements that are not used in any room anywhere in the Contract. The report doesn't, of course, know if the Element should be used more than once but the report is helpful in avoiding errors. The Unused Element Report is within the Utilities sub-menu.


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General Descriptions - Preliminaries and Preambles in elements

It is often necessary to include some standard descriptions in a bill which are not themselves proper bill items with quantities. Preliminaries, Preambles and qualifications to the SMM are typical examples.

These can easily be provided for in calculix. The description should be entered in the library in the usual way and a fully coded item created in an element or worked-up data entry. Because it is not creating a normal bill item, the description could be included in any of the text levels (i.e. specification a or b, item 1a or 1b or item 2a and item 2b or even a written short item) but the item code must include the trade and sub-section to preserve its place in the bill order.

This type of item is distinguished by the fact that it must not have a unit. This tells the processor that it must not give the text either a quantity or a unit. The item is selected, however, because the formula contains a valid entry, although it will not be printed in the bill. This allows the entry to be ignored by deleting the formula or by inserting a # (hash). Sub-section "a" of each trade is notionally entitled 'General' and would be a common place for General descriptions to be inserted.


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Adjustment Codes in Elements

In Quantity Surveying it is often necessary to refer to an item that has already been dealt with. Deductions, for instance, by definition, must be deducting from an item that has been measured elsewhere. In such a case a short code reference is extremely helpful. The Adjustment Code provides this facility and extends it to include positive, as well as negative adjustments.

It is implicit in a short code reference that the item in question is dependant on some other item which not only includes the short code reference but also specifies the item in full. So it is with the Calculix Adjustment Code.

It will be convenient to think of the items containing the short code reference only as the Slave items and the items containing both the Short code and the Full specification code as the Master items.

The Slave items require only the Adjustment Code. The Item code is not required and must be left completely empty. The records must of course include a valid Formula entry and a sign to indicate an Add or an Omit.

The Master items require to have both the Adjustment Code AND the Full Item Code. They must also include all other fields as required to identify the item.

It is helpful in processing items like this if the Processor has some idea where to find the Master items. For this reason the first Character of the Adjustment Code is used to identify the Type of Element the Master Element is. The first character of the Adjustment Code MUST be one of:

W for Wall
F for Floor
C for Ceiling
E for Element

and this tells the computer where it can find the appropriate item.

The second character can be any upper case character or any number.

The Master Elements for Walls, Floors and Ceilings MUST be located in the appropriate Wall shell, Floor shell and Ceiling Shell element fields on the Room Data worksheet. In this way the computer can ensure that it processes the correct item and it can also check to make sure that there is only one Master Element for any one Slave.

NOTE Several items in the Master Element may have the same adjustment code and in this way one Slave item can adjust several Master items. (eg a Slave item of deduct skirting would also want to deduct the painting on the skirting and so on). Since the items are adjusted together, however, they must all have the same quantity adjustment and they must all have the same Units.

In practice it is necessary to analyse the Shell Elements into their constituent "layers" in order to make the best use of the Adjustment Code facility. ( e.g. a window element will deduct Wall Shell items for Base, Finish, and Decorations; a door will also deduct Skirting and painting to skirting but a kitchen cupboard will only deduct the Wall Decoration and the Floor Decoration). In this way each shell element is divided into Base ( or structure ) Finish, Decoration, Skirting. Dadoes, Coving, Band courses etc. would be approached in the same way.

Another important practical feature of the Adjustment code facility is the Context relationship introduced by the Room data worksheet. Because the windows are located underneath the walls in which they are fixed the Adjustment Code deduction to the wall finish WF, for example, is automatically made to the finish on this wall. When the same window is located in a different wall the wall finish adjustment WF will be made to that wall finish. This saves a great deal of effort and also ensures scrupulous accuracy. It also has the advantage that the Adjustment can be made before the Master item is known or specified.

Each Adjustment Code can have a description field of up to 40 characters. These descriptions appear automatically at the foot of the screen when the cursor is in the Item Description field of an item with an Adjustment Code. To edit these descriptions, use the Item Adjustments routines. If an element is copied into the contract from the Master Library, the descriptions that exist in the Master Library are also copied into the contract.


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Adjustments to other Elements

Adjustments made to ordinary Elements i.e. those not included in the floor, ceiling or wall shell are very slightly different. These adjustments must start with E but are otherwise basically the same as the previous section. The difference is that the Master Elements for these adjustment codes are found in ANY Element and the computer cannot therefore be sure where the adjustment code will be found. This doesn't affect any of the behaviour of the facility but it does mean that it isn't possible to check to see that there is only one Master Element. As a general principle this is a useful arrangement but you must ensure that you do not accidentally make the adjustments in two different Elements.

Notwithstanding the foregoing the E adjustment code is specifically intended to allow the wall decoration to form a separate Element from it's associated wall and still be able to use the adjustment procedure to adjust the decoration. Used in this way the E adjustment work in exactly the same way as the others if the Master items are located in the Wall Finish Element field of the Room Data worksheet.


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Element Pricing

This is an option on the Bill Type Worksheet. Setting Elemental Pricing to 'N' leaves pricing unaffected by Elemental Item Codes. Setting Elemental pricing to 'Y' allows items in different elements to have different prices even if the items are identical in all other respects.


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