How do you gauge the costs of your construction projects?
If you do it manually using ledger pads and calculators, you are probably facing unexpected complications such as higher project completion costs than what you predicted before you began working.
This variation in estimation may lead to the failure of continuing projects because your clients may not be able to invest more in the project.
Determining exact costs for your projects may not be possible; however, there are software solutions that can help you quickly gauge approximate costs beforehand. They are automatic and provide quick estimates to handle multiple projects simultaneously.
To help you accurately plan materials and appropriate budget before you begin your next construction project, let’s introduce you to construction estimating software.
What is Construction Estimating Software?
Construction estimating software is cloud-based or desktop technology developed to identify approximate costs for particular construction projects. Whether you are a large-scale business or a small-scale contractor, this software can back up your project budget plan.
The software creates estimates by taking into account the quantities and costs of all equipment, materials, and labor required to complete a project. It pulls this data from a takeoff system, or you give it input by developing a list of takeoffs (required quantities and labor work to finish a construction project).
After estimating the overall cost of new or existing construction projects, the software generates a list of all the required materials and writes down the anticipated amount necessary to finish a client’s project.
Additionally, by tracking data from various sources such as historical costs, past estimates, and performance data, the software automates repetitive tasks. It facilitates your business to quickly build, review, and edit estimates. Automatically running price calculations, the tool also helps you identify costing errors.
Moreover, it also enables your team to speed things up by forecasting approximate construction project costs, and avoiding later catastrophes caused by errors in calculations. As a result, you will not need to spend hours and efforts to estimate costs manually that can be liable to inaccuracies.
That’s it. Now, that you understand the basics of estimating software, let’s walk you through more details to help you find out the best construction estimating software for your business:
Best Construction Estimating Software for 2023
You can find a wide range of estimating software in the market; however, the best construction estimating software are limited.
While some are built to cater to the needs of multiple project types, others are designed keeping in mind the requirements of specific construction work.
Here are some of the best estimating software in 2023 for commercial and residential construction:
Home-Cost is residential construction estimating software that enables residential contractors and home builders to accurately determine project costs.
Since cost control derives successful completion of residential development projects, the software helps predict accurate costs and manage projects within the anticipated budget.
It is one of the most popular residential estimating software that makes it easy to control costs by managing subcontractor quotes, takeoff estimates, time, and labor under one hood.
By providing quick and accurate professional estimates, estimating tool helps novice contractors prequalify new clients, finish contracts efficiently, and win more projects.
Stack is an estimation and takeoff tool with a wide range of features for construction companies. In addition to being a commercial construction estimating software, Stack also spans various other industries such as landscaping, concrete, roofing, MEP, residential, and specialty trades.
Its specialized features for each industry make it an excellent choice for suppliers, general contractors, and subcontractors alike. It is designed with specific feature sets to match your needs regardless of where you fall in the timeline of your projects.
If you are a subcontractor, Stack software provides you with dozens of industry-focused solutions that help you bid faster and gain more projects by automating the takeoff process and connecting your entire team so that everyone remains in the loop.
Moreover, using the tool, your team can leave comments, make markups, and invite others for collaboration, ensuring that everyone is working on the most updated version.
In addition, it is a cloud-based solution, so your team can work from anywhere.
Estimating Edge is used for commercial construction projects to estimate costs and develop takeoff lists.
It also offers lots of bidding options and is a smart tool for various projects such as flooring projects, acoustic ceilings, fireproofing, drywall, and waterproofing.
The software has a steep learning curve; however, once you get the hang of it, you can easily navigate the interface. The amount of time it eventually helps save is worth the extra effort you do today.
It offers several trade-specific features targeted for the type of work you do, from painting and flooring to roofing and drywall.
With this software, you can also work out what-if scenarios. For example, by creating a copy of an existing estimate and adjusting labor or material rates, you can evaluate what changes occur in your estimations and compare both variations based on conditions.
An additional feature it offers is its award-winning customer support that includes:
- On-demand webinars
- Tech support (via chat or screen share)
- On-site and remote training options
- Online support requests
- A broad knowledge base
How Much Does Construction Estimating Software Cost?
Typically, construction estimating software cost is affordable, especially when compared to enterprise systems.
While some may cost $59 per month, others may go up to $249/ month. In any case, they save significant time you spend on calculating and totaling construction costs.
The complete pricing model often varies between providers, but their overall cost usually depends on three key factors:
One of the most important factors involved in pricing the software is the number of features it includes. Many companies offer optional features in their products, and the more you want to add, the higher they charge you for the tool.
However, all companies do not offer additional features in their product, so this may not always be a factor in the eventual cost.
Number of Users
Several companies charge a specific amount for the product. By multiplying it with the number of users sharing the access, they charge you on a per-user basis.
Online Vs. On-Premise Deployment
Some businesses may go for on-premise estimating software to get them installed locally on their particular desktops or servers they own.
If this is your case, you will need to pay an upfront cost once for all to get lifetime ownership of the software. However, the cost for such software installation is usually higher than online or cloud-based solutions which do not need installation.
Not all estimating software companies follow the same pricing model, so it is always better to do some research and talk to them before you consider buying.
Why do I need Construction Estimating Software?
When you take up construction work, your clients expect you to tell them what costs the project will involve. To determine how much material you will need and what profit margin you will have after the project, you need an estimating software solution to quickly and accurately calculate the costs for projects.
Not only this, the software aids you in determining the feasibility and profitability of a given project. Most importantly, estimating construction work expenditures supports both parties- the contractor and the client- to complete the project under determined time and budget.
By giving an idea of the approximate price, the software saves you from overrunning project costs. Additionally, it helps you prepare for the funds beforehand, bridging the gap between expectations and productivity.
Free Construction Estimating Software Examples
If you are just beginning to consider estimating software for your construction business, you might want to try a free tool before investing.
So, below, we have provided you with two free construction estimating software options:
Easy-Pro Builders Estimator
Easy-Pro is open-source estimating software, ideal for construction companies with in-house development teams which can amend the tool as per their needs.
This open-source software is Apache OpenOffice Calc-based, and its last update was released in 2014. Now, the software needs updating, yet it is a viable option for the companies capable of doing it themselves.
The key features Easy-Pro Builders Estimator offers you are:
- Additional trade worksheets
- Variable tax rates (depending on your region)
- Compatibility with Linux and Windows
Estimate By Warhive
Estimate By Warhive is worth considering open-source estimating software and a community-based program. It involves more developers than you find with Easy-Pro.
Warhive offers free source code for companies to use and optimize it for their particular needs. It is a fast and accurate tool for estimating construction costs.
The software is packed with useful features for small-scale operators to large construction businesses.
Some of the features it includes are:
- Web-based interface
- Simple backup functionality
- Extensive support for cost sheet creation
- Vendor and subcontractor quote evaluation
Features of Construction Estimating Software
Pre-built Estimate Templates
This is one of the basic features of construction estimating software. Every estimating tool usually comes with some template to display cost estimates, but the more powerful ones offer multiple templates.
Takeoff Software Integration
If your company uses takeoff software, it is ideal to have it directly integrated with your estimating tool to easily pull data from it. Otherwise, your employees will have to perform this task manually by pulling data from takeoff and inputting it into an estimating solution.
Companies often provide both packages, so if you buy both from the same vendor, the takeoff data can automatically flow into the cost estimator with no effort.
Supplier Pricing Database
Some software providers offer an updated database of materials with pricing from local distributors. By combining the prices with quantity estimates, you can easily or automatically calculate costs for your projects.
This feature helps you save huge blocks of time and makes the product worth the money.
For example, you can connect with ElectricSmarts NetPricer, a standard supplier pricing database that many other notable estimating software solution providers such as ProEst, ConEst, and Vision InfoSoft already use.
Estimating software also lets users store information about common components of a project. You can store specific information such as quantity and cost of materials as well as associated time and labor cost.
For example, for a residential interior wall, you can store a predictable quantity of wood, nails, drywall, and other components or assemblies depending on the area of the wall.
Since you can always change materials, suppliers, and prices anytime, you will also need to update them across different estimate documents.
Luckily, some estimating software enable you to instantly update the same information in various estimate documents at the same time. So, do look for this feature when you explore the software market.
For calculating estimates, the tools need formulas. Many software provide you with a pre-built list of calculations for components like area, curved distances, and volume. Some other software solutions provide you with options to update or put your own formulas.
What Does Construction Bidding Software Do?
The role of construction bidding software comes after the estimating software. When you successfully estimate your project costs, bidding software helps you manage bids.
Construction bidding software facilitates your business with a central space for managing the status of all project bids. This system allows you to download bid packages and select and submit your bids directly back into it.
It also provides bid history and tracking as well as gives powerful search functionality to search for the right bids.
Moreover, it breaks down bids by cost code, backlog, bidding history of each bidder, and the physical location of individual bidders to make it easy to compare bids.
You can also create a comprehensive bidding history for each project and bid package. The bidding tool can automatically attach vendor records to all emails and track changes made in every bidding item.
One of the key features of this tool is the ability to see if the bidders actually downloaded the bid documents so that the bid administrator can follow up with the right parties.
It is essentially designed to help you quickly revert to bid solicitations.
Construction Estimating vs. Takeoff vs. Bidding Software
Construction estimating, takeoff, and bidding software are different parts of the same process. They help contractors calculate their internal costs and fix the final price they can charge to the customer.
If you are aiming for large construction work or public sector construction projects, you must know what these three types of software do.
The following in-depth comparison among the three software can help you understand the difference:
First things first, the process of calculating prices starts with takeoff. For creating an estimate, knowing how much quantity of a certain material you need is important. Takeoff is the process of determining what quantity of each material is needed to complete a project.
Either you can give it your best guess or determine with takeoff software. Takeoff software establishes the quantities of materials required for the project, providing accurate information to rely on.
Once you know the amount of material you need, you can cost everything, add in tax, labor hours, waste percentage, and other prices to finish your estimate.
It is an estimate that takes the results of takeoffs a few steps ahead. Estimating software applies costs to materials that takeoffs determine as well as adds in other project costs that contractors will face. These additional costs can be things like labor costs, travel costs, taxes, and more.
Estimating software provides approximate prices and gives you an idea of the possible costs of projects. Bidding software is more common in the industry and offers more details than an estimate.
For example, providing a price estimate is giving the information to a customer, but it is not necessarily a contract that you enter to go ahead with the project. To go forward with the project, you will need to provide an incentive to your customer. That is your construction bid.
You get the idea, right?
So, by bidding, you make a commitment to provide your customer with a specified construction at a given cost (perhaps a given date too).
Bidding software streamlines this process of requesting bid proposals and helps you manage bids across multiple construction projects.
To conclude this comparison, here’s the key takeaway:
- Takeoff software determines a list and the quantity of stuff required for a certain construction project.
- An estimating software prices those materials and provides extra costs a project may involve.
- Finally, construction bidding software breaks down costs by various factors and provides a platform for requesting and managing bids.
Project estimations are critical to consider when taking up a project.
Before you go ahead with a client, you must estimate how much investment a construction project will require to complete.
Using construction estimating software, you can do it quickly and efficiently. The software not only helps you determine costs for projects but aids you to evaluate how much profit you can make from certain construction work.
If you plan each project with accurate budget details, you are unlikely to fail to meet the anticipated costs.
In the end, this strategic planning helps you finish projects effectively and win more clients.
So, which construction estimating software are you going to deploy for your next project?