In construction, estimating is among the most important – and complicated – processes. Thankfully, computer applications exist to help companies ensure accurate estimates. In this article, we’ll look at the best construction estimating software for general contractors and subcontractors.
7 best construction estimating software programs
Pricing: Request a demo for more information
ProEst is generally considered the top construction estimating software program – and for good reason. The company has been in the business of developing estimating software since 1976, making it one of the oldest players in the space.
This expertise is quite evident in the very intuitive design of ProEst’s software, which offers easy access to functionality such as:
customer relationship management
Crucially, ProEst also integrates with a number of other construction management software programs, including:
ProEst’s flexibility and ease-of-use make it the top construction estimating software for general contractors and subcontractors alike.
Pricing: $59-$249 per month
Subcontractors in search of simple construction estimating software need look no further than Clear Estimates, which is designed to facilitate the creation of proposals and estimates within minutes.
One key feature that helps Clear Estimates excel in this regard is its ability to tap into localized pricing information from RemodelMAX, which collects data from 400 regions in the United States.
What also makes Clear Estimates the best construction estimating software for subcontractors is its very competitive pricing structure, which starts at just $59 per month, which includes:
a 10,000+ line item database
payable invoice creation
unlimited customer support
quarterly labor and material rate reporting
What’s also incredible at this price point is the inclusion of integrations with other programs like Buildertrend and Quickbooks, giving users the ability to pull Clear Estimates into their full accounting suite.
Clear Estimates can also be used remotely via laptops and mobile devices, rounding out a fantastic product offering.
Pricing: From $99 per month
For companies in need of something more robust than the simple construction estimating software we just discussed, Sage Estimating is well worth considering.
The software provides estimating and quote evaluation tools for bidders and solicitors alike. Key features found in Sage Estimating include:
compatibility with project takeoff software
building information modeling integration (Autodesk)
construction cost databases
Of course, Sage Estimating also integrates with other products in the Sage Business Cloud. As such, construction management professionals can integrate Sage Estimating into their processes for inventory and supply chain management along with payment processing.
Easy-Pro Builders Estimator is an open-source construction estimating software program based on Apache OpenOffice Calc.
The open-source nature of this program makes it ideal for companies with in-house development teams capable of tweaking it as needed. This is crucial to note since Easy-Pro Builders Estimator’s last stable release was in 2014. It’ll need some updating yet remains a very viable option for companies capable of doing that.
Key features of Easy-Pro Builders Estimator include:
variable tax rates depending on where you live
compatibility with Windows and Linux
trade worksheets included
ESTIMATE by Warhive is another open-source construction estimating software program worth considering. Released under the GNU Affero General Public License, Warhive is a community-supported program with substantially more developer involvement than you’d find with Easy-Pro Builders Estimator.
Features of ESTIMATE include:
a web-based interface
support for extensive cost sheet creation
subcontractor and vendor quote evaluation
simple backup functionality
Pricing: Request a demo for more information
IntelliBid is the top construction estimating software built specifically for contractors in the electrical, security, fire alarm, and solar sectors.
IntelliBid’s most notable feature is arguably its Industry Smart Database, which contains hundreds of thousands of data points, including supplier pricing via NetPricer™ Service. The software goes one step further by offering location-specific vendor pricing, helping electrical contractors estimate prices based on where they purchase materials.
Other IntelliBid features worth highlighting include:
advanced estimating (easy search, alerts for missing items, etc)
Smart System™ Technology (integration of change orders)
Pricing: Request a demo for more information
SmartBid by ConstructionConnect is one of the top construction estimating software programs for general contractors thanks to the inclusion of features such as:
subcontractor compliance tracking
invitation to bid distribution
In other words, SmartBid by ConstructionConnect helps general contractors estimate their own costs while also evaluating subcontractor bids. The combination of these two features is incredibly valuable.
What is the best construction estimating software for you?
Given how many options there are regarding construction estimating software, it can be hard to choose just one. Here are some of the factors you need to consider.
Understand the software’s utility
While the line between estimating, takeoff, and bidding software is often blurred, there are major differences in functionality between all of them.
Estimating software is designed to help construction companies forecast expenses (often line-by-line) for the purpose of more accurate bidding. It often relies on data from takeoff software, which pulls information from project documents.
Bidding software, meanwhile, helps companies manage requests for proposals and aspects of the solicitation process.
While construction management professionals often use the term “construction estimating software” in reference to all three types of programs, they are indeed different. Make sure you know what you’re looking for in order to make the right purchasing decision.
Carefully consider the platforms being offered
As with most types of software these days, construction estimating programs typically come in both desktop and mobile versions. If it’s important that you have remote access to your estimating data, you’ll want to be sure the software you choose has a mobile version.
Also, pay attention to any desktop functionality that doesn’t carry over to mobile versions of the software. In a work environment increasingly characterized by remote operations due to COVID-19, it’d be a mistake to potentially limit your staff’s efficiency by relegating certain important tasks to the days (if there are any) they’re able to work in the office.
Figure out which key features you need
Essential construction software estimating features include integration with other programs (i.e. those meant for resource management and project takeoff) and, of course, the tools needed to create accurate estimates in your line of work.
Beyond this, you’ll also want to consider any features of importance to you. These may include features from other types of programs we discussed earlier (takeoff and bidding).
Keep future expansion in mind
While construction estimating software in and of itself doesn’t have to be exorbitantly expensive, don’t underestimate the cost of transferring data and training your team on the use of a new program.
Given how extensive these costs can be, you should aim to choose an estimating program that will support your company for years to come, even as it expands. Don’t try to save money now at the expense of having to go through the onboarding process for a whole new program in short order.
Pay careful attention to the software’s interface
Often, software programs look great on paper yet underwhelm when you actually start using them. A key culprit in this regard is bad user interface design. Don’t purchase any program until you and the members of your team who will be using it have received thorough demonstrations of it.
How much should construction estimating software cost?
Construction estimating software typically costs between $59 and $250 or more per month. Even the costlier programs have negligible price tags relative to the money they’ll save you.
Remember, as we discussed in this article, inaccurate estimates are a key cause of construction cost overruns, which can devastate companies financially. Don’t risk bankruptcy (which is a very real threat accompanying just two or three inaccurate estimates for 25% of one survey’s respondents) for the sake of saving a few hundred dollars every month by choosing construction estimating software that doesn’t fully meet your needs.
Construction estimating software is a key part of any industry professional’s toolkit. We hope this article has helped you identify the right estimating software for you. For more tips on construction management, visit our blog.
Lauren Lake is the COO and co-founder at Bridgit. She holds a degree in Civil Structural Engineering and is well-versed in construction workforce management and resource planning processes. Lauren has been named to the Forbes Manufacturing & Industry 30 Under 30 and Best Of Canada Forbes Under 30 Innovators lists. Lauren has presented at industry events and conferences, including BuiltWorlds, Canadian Construction Association, Procore Groundbreak, and more. Follow Lauren on LinkedIn and Instagram.