Estimating Software For Builders

If you are a builder, then I hope you have learned something about estimating software. It is an essential tool for every business. We have seen how it can save time and money, but there are other benefits too. For example, it helps to eliminate errors and improve productivity, which ultimately leads to greater profitability. If you are considering investing in this type of software for your company then take some time now so that when the time comes for implementation there will be no surprises!

In this post, we review Estimating Software For Builders, construction estimating software for small business, civil construction estimating software, and how to estimate for construction.

Estimating Software For Builders

Blueprint estimates are an integral part of the building process. They’re used to determine how much it will cost to build a house, but they don’t always give you the most accurate idea about your costs—especially when it comes to costs outside of your scope of work (think taxes and permits). Estimating software has the potential to take much of the guesswork out of estimating.

Why estimating software?

  • Reduces the time spent on estimating
  • Improves accuracy of estimates
  • Improves productivity
  • Improves profitability
  • Increases customer satisfaction
  • Minimizes errors
  • Helps to comply with building regulations

What is estimating software for builders?

Estimating software is a tool that helps builders to estimate the cost of building a structure. It is an electronic tool that helps builders to estimate the cost of building a structure. The main purpose of estimating software for builders is to assist them in accurately estimating their projects, thereby ensuring profitability and timely accomplishment of projects.

How does it work?

The software is cloud-based and runs on your computer.

It’s a computer program, so there are no servers to worry about.

Does it really save time?

Estimating software saves you time by automating manual tasks and allowing multiple projects to be processed at once. If you are doing a lot of work that requires the same materials and techniques, then it can be useful to have one estimate lined up for each project. The software will automatically generate an individualized report for each customer or contractor based on their specifications and needs.

Even though this is a good time-saving tool, there are still some things that need to be done manually—such as working with different types of materials or calculating labor costs for each job.

The benefits of using estimating software for builders.

Estimating software for builders is a great way to improve your business. The benefits of using estimating software include:

  • Reduces errors in estimates.
  • Increases productivity, profitability and cash flow by providing accurate quotes with less time spent on the job site and more time with customers.
  • Improves customer experience by eliminating the guesswork of how much it will cost them to build their dream home and improving communication between builder and client throughout the process, allowing you both to feel confident in your decisions together.

Estimating software eliminates errors, improves productivity and increases profitability.

Estimating software eliminates errors, improves productivity and increases profitability. It saves time and money by eliminating paper-based estimating methods, which are prone to human error. It also saves on printing costs, since no physical copies need to be printed out for client review or approval.

Estimating software is easy to use because it allows you to build estimates from a set of predefined templates where the user simply fills in all the information needed by the customer or client. The system itself does not require any special training or skills except those involved with using computers generally (i.e., navigating windows on your desktop).

construction estimating software for small business

Construction businesses are in a unique position when it comes to serving customers and clients. Not only do these small businesses need to deliver on the end result, but they must also paint an accurate picture of what’s to come. In the earliest stages of ideation and project conception, estimating plays a critical role.

Estimates help construction businesses deliver a realistic projection of the method and delivery of a new project. Since manual estimations can be time-consuming and tedious, estimating software saves valuable time and resources. 

Fortunately, there is no shortage of estimating software in the construction industry. In this guide, we’ll recommend our top choices to help your business estimate with ease.

What is Estimating Software?

Estimating software is a type of computer program that helps contractors and businesses automate the estimation process to bid on specific projects.  

Traditional methods of writing estimates involve paper copies, spreadsheets, and manual calculations. Several types of businesses use estimates to pitch new projects to clients.

During the estimating process, business owners share information about labor costs, materials, timelines, and delivery deadlines. Estimating software replaces previous manual processes and calculations and allows business owners to streamline the bidding process using intuitive software tools.

Advantages to Using Estimating Software

While some small businesses might hold fast to traditional methods, there are noteworthy advantages to using estimating software. In a construction company, the benefits can make a big difference in winning new contracts.

The Best Estimating Software for Construction Projects

Fortunately, construction estimation software is now widely accessible. Most specialized solutions are generally affordable, with some options even being free to use up to a certain amount. Other choices offer custom pricing for businesses that have unique needs.

If you run a construction business and aren’t sure which option is right for you, we’ve narrowed down the list to 10 choices that provide advanced features for generating professional estimates.

1. FreshBooks

FreshBooks is a smart choice for construction estimation software, with small business users in over 120 countries around the world. Although FreshBooks is also a comprehensive accounting software system, the estimation features are integral for construction companies.

With FreshBooks, small business users can:

Construction professionals need estimating software that’s user-friendly, flexible, and unique. FreshBooks offers these characteristics and so much more.

2. STACK

STACK is a construction estimating and takeoff software tool for businesses of any size. Construction takeoff is the ability to calculate how much material is needed to complete any given job. STACK users benefit from this feature in addition to robust, cloud-based options for completing and sending new estimates.

STACK also caters to many different types of construction businesses and customers. This includes subcontractors, general contractors, home builders, and suppliers. The ability to calculate so many metrics from a variety of different angles makes this software an impressive choice.

3. ProEST

ProEST is one of the leading estimating and cloud-based takeoff software solutions throughout the global construction market. The focus of this tool is on project management. As a result, ProEST offers an array of flexible and powerful integrations to make the entire business cycle that much more streamlined.

ProEST also offers a library of construction estimating resources to help business owners improve this aspect of their business. From corporate planning, to profit margins, to resource management, ProEST encourages users to see the manner in which good estimating tactics can influence and change the course of an entire business model.

4. Esticom

Esticom is another cloud-based construction takeoff and estimating platform. Esticom’s features promote real-time access to business metrics and an up-to-date look at new bids or projects. The focus is on removing reliance on paper business plans and tedious Excel spreadsheets, since both of these elements can hinder productivity.

Esticom serves all types of construction contractors and small businesses. This includes painters, HVAC specialists, electricians, and plumbers.

5. Builder Trend

Builder Trend is an estimating software tool that caters to home builders, renovators, and remodelers. These professionals have unique needs when it comes to construction projects, including knowing the square footage and age of a property as it relates to demolition and structural improvements.

Builder Trend’s pre-sales suite is where the estimating software lives. Within this set of tools, users can quickly manage leads, bid on new home projects, manage email marketing campaigns, and participate in business partnerships. 

6. Contractor Foreman

Contractor Foreman is an affordable solution for small business contractors who need an easy-to-use platform for managing construction projects. Contractor Foreman offers a free 30-day trial, followed by plans that begin as low as $49/month (a lower amount than most comparable services).

This platform offers over 30 features and integrations, including the ability to create and send professional estimates. A helpful knowledge base and customer support team make it easy to get up and running when using this software for the first time. 

7. Projul

Projul is a software company that’s committed to making the construction business more simple. The platform and user interface are designed especially for small businesses and companies that have less than 50 employees.

Users can create fast and accurate project proposals, with the ability to copy and duplicate to save time. Projul also helps businesses hide markup costs from potential clients and customers.

8. Clear Estimates

If you’re looking for a platform that specializes in estimates only (rather than having a long list of extra features), Clear Estimates is a good pick. With plans that begin at $59/month without a contract, it’s also an affordable choice for small-scale contractors.

One major benefit of Clear Estimates is that it uses data from RemodelMAX to generate costs of supplies and materials based on geographic location. The wide range of available data means that customers can get the most accurate estimate based on where they live.

civil construction estimating software

Transparency and attention to detail are mandatory for construction companies that bid on government-sponsored projects. With ProEst, you gain new visibility into every aspect of civil project estimating, planning and management– and our powerful automation features help ensure that the costs you forecast are complete and error-free. Just as important, our online platform makes it easy for multiple field teams and back-office personnel to connect and collaborate on pricing, scheduling, resource allocation and more, the best way to keep even the biggest public sector jobs on track.

Our cloud platform keeps teams connected, in or out of the office

Thousands of civil contractors have learned firsthand how valuable the ProEst cloud platform really is. It serves as a single online hub for all of your estimating activities, holding unlimited volumes of project data in one easy-to-access location. Because information is available 24/7 from any mobile device, your teams can work collaboratively on estimates, takeoffs, reports and other preconstruction tasks from anywhere, anytime. With ProEst, you simplify processes—and keep even complex jobs on track—because your teams stay connected from beginning to end.

how to estimate for construction

Budget overruns in construction are practically a guarantee these days. Construction projects are complex operations, and people have a tendency to be overly optimistic about their success. Add to that the fact that clients love making changes on the fly, and it’s easy to understand why keeping a project on budget is next to impossible in this industry.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. It is possible to keep your costs under control, and therefore protect your profit margins.

When you’re talking about cost control in construction, you’re talking about getting an estimate done right at the start — not managing finances midway through, which is a recipe for disaster. By becoming an excellent construction cost estimator, you will avoid those budget overruns that cost your business.

Construction estimates also make construction project management easier, because you can be confident that the tasks you are executing have been laid out in the budget and will get the project closer to completion without jeopardizing the bottom line. Here’s what you need to know about estimates, and how to do one correctly for your next project.

Overview: What is a construction estimate?

A construction estimate is a document that lays out, in detail, all of the costs involved in a construction project. A good construction cost estimate will provide both the construction manager and the client with an idea of the cost of the project so there are no surprises when the project is completed. As a result, this is one of the most important parts of the construction project, because a badly-done estimate will result in budget overruns and possibly even delays, leading to evaporating profits and unhappy clients. Therefore, construction managers should devote significant time and energy at the outset of the project to properly flesh out all of the costs associated with a project.

4 construction elements to factor into your estimating

When it comes time to create your construction estimate, generally all costs fall into four main categories.

1. Materials

Every construction project requires materials, so compile a detailed list of every type of material associated with each phase of the project, as well as the quantity of the materials needed and the expected price of those materials at the time you purchase them. The last item, the price, is the most difficult to predict due to fluctuations in cost that are outside your control. To be safe, budget for higher-than-normal prices to ensure an accurate quote.

2. Labor

Labor will eat up a large chunk of your budget, so any mistake in this category will cause a major miscalculation in terms of the overall cost. Provide a detailed breakdown of the man-hours expected for each phase of the project, and include some wiggle room in the construction workflow in case overtime or extra emergency workers are necessary due to change orders or unforeseen challenges. Don’t forget to factor in subcontractors as well.

3. Equipment

Equipment may take up a significant portion of your budget, or it may be relatively minor. If you already own all the equipment you need and just need to carve out some space in the budget for fuel and maintenance costs, your expenses in this category will be relatively minor. But jobs that require renting or buying new equipment will result in significant expenditures, and that should be noted in the final project cost. You should also include costs for wear and tear — even though it may not cost you money out of pocket in this project, by including it in the estimate for construction, you will set aside money for the purchase of new equipment down the road.

4. Overhead

A construction project will feature lots of miscellaneous overhead costs, from your own salary as a construction manager to temporary on-site facilities to permitting and fees. It’s sometimes tough to remember all of these items, so consult with past projects to see where you spent your money, and discuss this category with your crew so they can identify other expenses you may have forgotten.

How to create a successful construction estimate

Once you have all of this information, you’re ready to build your construction estimate. This is a relatively simple process involving five basic steps.

1. Create a timeline

Using the project scope to determine what needs to get done and when, draw up a construction schedule or construction timeline that breaks down the project into multiple bite-sized phases.

2. Perform a quantity takeoff

List all of the materials costs for each phase, and then provide a total estimate. The estimate should identify all materials needed for the project, as well as the expected prices.

3. Estimate labor

Compile all labor hours for each phase as well as the labor rates, taking into account possible overtime as well as subcontractor quotes. Add all of these together from all of the phases to get a final project labor estimate.

4. Use a template

Add up these estimates from each of the phases and plug it into a construction estimate template. You can find many construction estimating templates online — choose one that fits your business.

5. Add equipment and overhead for the final estimate

Add estimated total equipment and overhead costs for the project by factoring in fuel, maintenance, facilities, and other miscellaneous costs, and combine that with the labor and materials costs to get your final estimate.

4 tips and tricks for creating a construction estimate

The process sounds simple, but is it? Not exactly. Even the most seasoned professionals struggle with construction estimates. Here are four tips and tricks that will help you get it right the first time.

1. Give yourself wiggle room

Avoid being overly optimistic when you create an estimate — pessimism is your friend here. While a client may balk at a higher price tag for the project, it will be worth it in the end when you don’t have to frustrate your client by telling them you’ve gone over budget. Even better, you may come in under budget and really be in your client’s good graces. This alone may ensure future work with this client, and at the very least leads to a good reputation for your firm.

2. Talk it over with your team

Big decisions like this should not be made in a vacuum. Involve everyone on your team in the estimating process, because they’re likely to spot at least a few expenses you’ve forgotten. When estimating, you want to get every last expense included to prevent unwelcome surprises at the end of the project — or, worse, right in the middle of it.

3. Consult past projects

Do you wonder if your budget is truly comprehensive? A good way to know for sure is to take a look at the final expense lists for past projects. These are records of what you actually spent money on as well as how much you ended up paying. This will help you come up with estimates that better reflect reality rather than what you hope you can accomplish.

4. Consider hiring a professional

If you just can’t get your estimates right, it may be time to hire a professional to take a look at your estimates and spot problems. Consultants are expensive, but if they can get your estimates right, they’ll save you an enormous amount money in the long run.

Try out new software for your next estimate

Construction management software typically has construction estimating tools that will make it easier to come up with accurate estimates — and you can even find construction estimating software specifically devoted to this task. These tools will guide you through the construction planning and scheduling process and generally make it easier, which will encourage you to spend more time with an estimate rather than rushing through it because it’s an unpleasant task you just want to get done. Software also often includes construction management and analytics tools, so you can use data to come up with insights, and budgeting tools will keep an accurate record of past project expenses that will inform future estimates.

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