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10 Min. Read

10 Best Construction Estimating Software: Free & Paid

10 Best Construction Estimating Software: Free & Paid

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.

Here’s What We’ll Cover:

What is Estimating Software?

Advantages to Using Estimating Software

The Best Estimating Software for Construction Projects

Determine You Specific Business Needs

Tips for Using Construction Software

Key Takeaways

More Estimating Resources for Business Owners

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.

  • Estimating software can eliminate spreadsheet errors. Even though spreadsheets offer some level of automation (with formulas and pre-loaded calculations), it's always possible to miss a step when editing the spreadsheet for a new client. Software tools rarely make this same error.
  • It communicates professionalism. In a modern age of tech, clients may expect digital processes. Many estimating software programs have the ability to send information directly to clients.
  • It boosts productivity and is a huge time-saver. While a business might still assign the work of estimating to a particular staff member, the actual process rarely requires as much energy. This means that an employee can devote time to more important tasks. It also means that future clients receive estimates in a more timely fashion.
  • Software may have an influence on client acquisition. When a project bid looks professional, accurate, and detailed, clients may be more likely to sign on. This benefit can also improve the chances of concurrent projects per client.

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:

  • Track the status of all released estimates to monitor when they're viewed and accepted by clients
  • Easily convert an active estimate into an invoice for customers
  • See and respond to feedback that potential clients leave on each estimate
  • Preview all estimates, quotes, and costs prior to sending
  • Add discounts or special offers to individual estimates
  • Enjoy flexibility and ease of use when creating and sending an estimate from anywhere
  • Customize each estimate with unique or personal branding

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.

9. Sage Estimating

Sage Estimating is a software platform that helps construction companies improve their bid-to-won ratio. Pre-construction bidding leverages important industry data and artificial intelligence to generate the most accurate estimates possible. Not only does this improve productivity, but it also provides customers with more details and accuracy about a specific need.

Sage Estimating also offers features for vendor selection, subcontractor quotes, purchase orders, and job cost tracking. Users can sync these statistics with estimates to gain a well-rounded picture of the entire process.  

10. SimPRO

SimPRO is a cloud-based option that delivers reliability, flexibility, and ease of use. The built-in estimating features help businesses write accurate quotes while delivering them to future clients seamlessly and transparently. 

SimPRO is a particularly good choice for businesses that rely on field staff members. With mobile capabilities, staff can take SimPRO on the road to deliver fast and accurate estimates to potential clients. This flexibility improves conversion by removing the time lag found in a more traditional estimation process that relies on manual calculations and back-and-forth communication.

Why Does Cloud-Based Matter?

If your business depends on writing detailed estimates, make sure that you understand the flexibility and security of each software option. Cloud-based programs are ideal since they allow for estimate creation whether you're sitting at your desk or you're out in the field on a job site. This convenience ensures that your business never misses an opportunity to deliver information to a potential client.

Cloud-based data is also encrypted, meaning that it benefits from top-level security features and protection. While you enjoy real-time access to your estimating programs, clients enjoy the peace of mind that comes from knowing their information is safe and secure.

Determine You Specific Business Needs

Before you settle on any of the above software choices, make sure that you have a reliable understanding of your business and its unique needs. Being realistic will ensure that your choice is based on honest facts and that the solution fulfills its intended purpose.

When choosing construction estimating software, set aside time to answer the following questions.

  • What are the current pain points? Maybe your estimating process isn't entirely broken, but communicating with clients could use an upgrade. Pinpoint where the current frustrations are, and choose software that matches those areas.
  • What collaboration tools are critical? The estimating process might be the job of one person, but it's highly unlikely that only one individual is involved. Choose software that promotes cross-departmental collaboration and administrative oversight where it's needed.
  • What is the monthly cost? Estimation tools are highly beneficial, but you don't need to overpay for key features unless you really need them. 

Tips for Using Construction Software

Providing timely estimates to future customers is only one part of the puzzle. When it comes to using estimation software, keep the following tips in mind.

  • Verify cost estimating prior to sending any contract. A good program will do the heavy lifting for you, but don't forget to preview the document before sending it. When you submit an incorrect estimate, you could be leaving good work on the table.
  • Provide thorough training and education. Choosing from software companies that provide user-friendly options eliminates some of the learning curve. Good training, however, is still important. This includes resources for employees on how to implement the new solution, plus training on how to estimate small business projects in general.
  • Encourage company-wide adoption and understanding. Prior to adopting any technical solution, always ensure that the broader team knows and understands each new process. This makes it easier for employees to ask for help and direct each other to valuable resources.

Key Takeaways

Construction cost estimates are essential for small businesses, residential contractors, and specialty contractors alike. Many of these professionals need an all-in-one solution to tackle such an important step in the client signing process. Without accurate estimates, it's difficult to maintain costs and labor hours while still offering exceptional customer service.

Choosing the right software often comes down to your business needs, budget, and preference for additional features. Once you define individual preferences and goals, gain a competitive advantage by producing estimates using modern software that both you and your clients will appreciate.

More Estimating Resources for Business Owners


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