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Buyer's Guide

by Eileen O'Loughlin,
Market Research Associate
Last Updated: March 17, 2017

When it comes to construction projects that require large amounts of concrete, manual “ballpark” methods just won’t cut it. One slight miscalculation can cost you hundreds, thousands, maybe even millions of dollars. That’s why formal concrete cost estimating software is extremely valuable for your construction business.

We have over 60 concrete cost estimating systems listed on our site for you to browse. The estimating software options range anywhere from Excel add-ons up to complex enterprise estimating software. The systems can cost anywhere from $99 all the way up to a $100,000+ investments.

All these variables in complexity and price for your system leaves you with a lot of decisions to make. That’s why we’ve created this guide to hopefully ease the process and help you make the best decision for your business.

Here’s what we'll cover:

What Is Concrete Cost Estimating Software?
Common Features of Concrete Cost Estimating Software
Benefits and Potential Issues of Concrete Cost Estimating Software
Evaluating Concrete Cost Estimating Software

What Is Concrete Cost Estimating Software?

Concrete estimating software helps contractors calculate material and labor costs for concrete and masonry projects. At their most basic, concrete cost estimating software features capabilities around:

  • Cost calculator: Automate costs for concrete, labor and others materials
  • Proposal generator: Turn project estimates into formal, professional bids to send off to general contractors.
  • Data management: Collect and store valuable data like labor and material costs for easy reference when needed.
  • Reporting: Generates easily understandable breakdowns of costs, labor and other valuable data being collected.

Top rated concrete costs systems will feature pre-built assemblies for concrete walls, footings and slabs and will help measure quantities of specific materials like re-bar, J-Bolts and gravel.

Common Features of Concrete Cost Estimating Software

Concrete and masonry work is a visual niche that requires detailed plans for an accurate estimate. Due to this visual nature of the industry, cost estimating software for concrete or masonry contractors will need a graphical element to digitally articulate the project at hand. These visualizations make for easier conceptualization of the tasks at hand. In doing so, they make the estimating process as easy as possible.

Consider the following visualization and other common cost estimating features as essential components of concrete costs systems:

Point-and-click concrete calculator A point-and-click calculator should indicate square footage, linear lengths and angles and pitch of a project site. In doing so, the calculator is able to account for overlays and unknown pitches or elevations and automatically produce modified estimates for concrete requirements based on all variables.
Concrete material and labor costs A solution dedicated to this subspecialty will use that data to provide an accurate estimate raw material and labor costs, ensuring an accurate estimate. This will also likely integrate directly into ordering and project scheduling systems in a complete system that includes accounting and project management capabilities.
Document scanning and recognition In moving to a paperless estimating system, you will likely want/need to scan paper plans and import them into the software. A top solution will recognize standard features and make it easy to convert a paper blueprint into an electronic one (keep in mind that you’ll want to ensure you have a scanner that can complete multiple, accurate scans throughout the day).

Benefits and Potential Issues of Concrete Cost Estimating Software

The primary benefits of adopting, implementing and leveraging a concrete cost estimating software system are extraordinary. Concrete estimating systems enable your business to more accurately determine costs, assign values to projects and properly send resources and labor to projects. This accuracy can help you find leaks in revenue and plug them up.

When taking into consideration a benefits analysis from estimating software users in general, we see that accuracy is indeed near the top of the list. In fact, 100 percent of respondents (again, industry-wide) either “somewhat agree,” “agree” or “strongly agree” that the accuracy provided by cost estimating systems is a primary benefit.

top construction estimating benefits


Turns out 100 percent of respondents also feel the same about the speed that estimating software completes tasks.

Interestingly, the benefit that the most respondents “highly agree” with is the process standardization these estimating systems offer users. Almost 70 percent of respondents “highly agree” on the merit of process standardization as a benefit. It’s interesting because businesses don’t necessarily need software to standardize their process. Managers can implement standard processes across the organization. However, by adopting and implementing software, you are effectively leaving your business with no other option but to adopt and utilize these beneficial, system-enabled process standards.

While the benefits are great, there are real issues you need to figure out before adopting an estimating system. First among them is determining just how dense you need your new system to be. There are equal amounts of systems solely dedicated to concrete and general cost estimating capabilities, and then there are systems that include estimating capabilities as part of a much larger suite of features for the entire business.

If you already have an underlying system in place to manage your business and are just looking to add or replace existing estimating capabilities, you probably just want estimating software exclusively. But if you’re opening up a new shop or in need of a total system overall, you’ll want to consider a system offering estimating as part of a larger composite of features and capabilities for your entire operation.

Evaluating Concrete Cost Estimating Software

A good concrete estimate starts with a complete understanding of the scope of work, followed by a good take-off process that includes an understanding of resource costs, and well identified overhead and profit rates. Many concrete estimating programs can stand alone as construction estimating software, but some companies may wish to combine it with construction accounting and job costing software, project management, document management or customer relationship management software.

When selecting a concrete cost estimating program, ask the following questions:

  • Do you need additional accounting, project management or other capabilities, or is a simple cost-estimating solution sufficient?
  • How well does the software integrate with any existing accounting, CRM, ordering or other systems?
  • Do you have a lot of paper blueprints you’ll want to make paperless?

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