The best construction estimation software offers numerous features for project management, project schedules, instant takeoffs and easy bidding. You should expect the service to include the following standard features.
To make a fair and accurate bid to a client, you'll need software that can pull the latest prices of materials and equipment from the internet. Many construction estimating software companies have access to wholesale databases for checking the ever-changing costs of building materials.
In addition to pulling data from online databases, the better programs allow you to add items and prices from your own suppliers to compare prices. You can make a similar database for subcontractors to compare labor costs.
Instant Takeoffs for Adjusting Estimates
Takeoffs are an important aspect of construction estimating, because they allow you to determine the exact amount of materials you need, estimate a cost for those materials, and adjust those factors alongside design plans to offer a better bid to the client.
Blueprint Viewing and Editing
Amongst its digital takeoff features, it's common for construction estimating software to allow you to upload a blueprint of the proposed project, usually as a CAD or BIM file, that you can edit within the software.
A mobile version of the estimating program is especially helpful during the construction phase, particularly if you're onsite often. You'll be able to quickly access estimate information directly from your phone or tablet to make quick decisions during building. Software that is compatible with both iOS and Android can increase connectivity and communication throughout your team and improve your overall workflow.
A few of the programs we reviewed are part of larger suites of construction software that integrate with each other. Other programs in these suites include construction management, accounting and scheduling software.
We looked at each product's compatibility with programs construction companies commonly use, such as Intuit QuickBooks for accounting and Microsoft Excel for various spreadsheets. These bundles undoubtedly come at a higher price, but depending on your needs, it could be worth it to purchase a complete suite of tools.
The cloud is the most practical and secure way to process and store your estimate data. There are three main categories of cloud construction: infrastructure as a service (IaaS), platform as a service (PaaS) and software as a service (SaaS).
IaaS and PaaS are larger solutions for IT operations, while SaaS is the easiest way to get the most out of cloud computing with little investment. Most SaaS solutions focus on the construction industry and are prevalent in estimation programs that offer solid cloud construction.
According to the McKinsey Global Institute, the construction industry is among the least digitized, next to the agriculture and hunting industry. Your construction business can't afford to turn a blind eye to digital trends like cloud hosting.
Training and Support
While some programs are easier to learn than others, construction estimating software can still be complicated to properly operate, so tutorial material should be readily available. Companies that offer 24/7 phone or live chat support, free trials or demos, and great customer service ranked higher in our evaluations. Many of the companies have extensive training materials on their websites and even host remote seminars or in-person training classes, sometimes at an extra cost.