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What is construction estimating software?
Construction estimating software (aka construction bidding software or cost estimation software) helps contractors, subcontractors, and builders generate labor, material, and equipment estimates for building projects. The software includes an exhaustive database of electrical, mechanical, and other building-related materials that contractors can use as reference when estimating budgets for their projects. It also helps contractors place competitive bids.
The benefits of construction estimating software
In a competitive market, it’s essential for contractors to analyze their client’s requirements and quickly develop estimates for labor, equipment, and material costs. While an overestimated quote can mean the loss of a potential client, underestimates can result in committing to a high-value project and completing it with a compromised material quality or with significant delays. In either of these case, a business can lose its market trust.
Reliable construction estimating software can save contractors from such critical situations. It helps contractors:
- Improve efficiency: Construction estimating software collects and processes details from various cost databases and past projects to generate estimates and quickly turn them into proposals. This helps contractors submit quotes for multiple projects and win more bids.
- Increase accuracy: Construction estimating software keeps track of all essential data such as labor and material cost, subcontractor expenses, equipment charges, inventories, transportation costs, etc. This helps users eliminate any guesswork from their calculations and generate estimates that closely match the true cost of the project.
- Stay consistent with outputs: With this software, businesses can create estimates based on tested and approved procedures, formulas, and workflows that enable them to deliver similar proposals every time they begin a new project. This brings consistency to their operation and helps streamline their estimation workflow.
Typical features of construction estimating software
- Cost database: Build and maintain individual data sets for labor, equipment, and material costs and use them as a reference when creating project estimates.
- Job costing: Calculate the approximate cost involved in completing a job by using past references and estimates for labor, material, and equipment costs.
- Proposal generator: Use cost estimates to generate professional-looking bid proposals.
- Audit trail: Track and log details of every change made in the database.
- Historical database: Store complete details of past projects.
- Analysis: Assign “what-if” conditions for budgets and planning to generate multiple sets of estimates under different scenarios.
Considerations when purchasing construction estimating software
- Integration with other construction software: Contractors need software that seamlessly transfers data across applications. For example, workforce scheduling software can share details about resource availability with construction estimating software to set up schedules. If you’re using multiple applications to manage your construction workflow, make sure that your construction estimating software supports integration with your existing applications to help you avoid repetitive data entry.
- Ease of use: Since construction estimating software will be used by contractors, estimators, designers, clients, and other stakeholders with a varying range of tech savviness, choose one that is logical, simple to use, and easy to understand. Businesses should also look for products that offer proper training programs for users to help them learn commands, interpret drawings, and generate estimates and take-off.
Relevant construction estimating software trends
- 3D printing will revolutionize the construction business: Though adoption has been slow, the construction industry has now started using 3D printing in multiple operations. From building a complete house using giant 3D printing machines to printing small dummy models for architects and designers, 3D printing is now used at various scales in the construction industry. These building mockups allow construction companies to identify flaws in the project before construction even begins.
- Mobile devices are the new hammer in the construction industry: Just like any field business, the construction industry has acknowledged the importance of smartphones and tablets. In fact, according to independent research by JB Knowledge, around 83% of respondents in the construction industry report mobile capabilities as important or very important in their business. Mobile devices not only connect back-office and field staff but also help to collect, manage, and report field data in real-time.