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Construction Estimating Software


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HCSS HeavyBid logo
 
HCSS HeavyBid is a construction estimating solution that automates tasks using estimating data sources, such as historical estimating costs. It is a good fit for heavy civil, infrastructure, utilities and power companies.
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HCSS HeavyBid is a construction estimating solution that automates tasks using estimating data sources, such as historical estimating costs. It is a good fit for heavy civil, infrastructure, utilities and power companies.
 
STACK Estimating logo
 
STACK Estimating from STACK Construction Technologies is a web-based on-screen takeoff and estimating tool for professional contractors of all business sizes in most trades. With STACK Estimating, users are able to produce bids with... Read More
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STACK Estimating from STACK Construction Technologies is a web-based on-screen takeoff and estimating tool for professional contractors of all business sizes in most trades. With STACK Estimating, users are able to produce bids with... Read More
 
B2W Estimate - Estimating & Bidding logo
 
B2W Estimate from B2W Software (formerly BID2Win) is an application for heavy civil construction estimating and bidding. The system offers the ability to create and pre-populate detailed databases with costs, including default templates... Read More
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B2W Estimate from B2W Software (formerly BID2Win) is an application for heavy civil construction estimating and bidding. The system offers the ability to create and pre-populate detailed databases with costs, including default templates... Read More
 
Viewpoint MEP Estimating logo
 
Viewpoint MEP Estimating (formerly known as Maxwell Estimation) specializes in generating estimates and takeoffs for residential and commercial HVAC, mechanical, plumbing, and electrical firms.  It includes trade-specific estimating... Read More
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Viewpoint MEP Estimating (formerly known as Maxwell Estimation) specializes in generating estimates and takeoffs for residential and commercial HVAC, mechanical, plumbing, and electrical firms.  It includes trade-specific estimating... Read More

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McCormick Estimating Software logo
 
McCormick construction estimating software is an on-premise system designed for both commercial and residential electrical construction professionals. This solution offers Excel integration and an updated cost database.
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McCormick construction estimating software is an on-premise system designed for both commercial and residential electrical construction professionals. This solution offers Excel integration and an updated cost database.
 
Sage Estimating (formerly Sage Timberline Estimating) logo
 
Sage Estimating (formerly Sage Timberline Estimating) meets the estimating needs of construction companies looking to streamline processes. It includes an estimating tool, as well as conceptual and electronic takeoff solutions.
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Sage Estimating (formerly Sage Timberline Estimating) meets the estimating needs of construction companies looking to streamline processes. It includes an estimating tool, as well as conceptual and electronic takeoff solutions.
 
FastPIPE & FastDUCT logo
 
FastDUCT provides tools for estimating for contractors within HVAC and industrial ductwork. It's situated on a Windows platform, and offers full beginning to end bidding features and maintains pricing info their database.
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FastDUCT provides tools for estimating for contractors within HVAC and industrial ductwork. It's situated on a Windows platform, and offers full beginning to end bidding features and maintains pricing info their database.
 
QuoteSoft Duct & QuoteSoft Pipe logo
 
Offering 20+ years of industry experience, QuoteSoft is both easy-to-use and install. Best suited for commercial contractors with up to $50 million in annual revenue, this product prepares many types of bids and estimates.
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Offering 20+ years of industry experience, QuoteSoft is both easy-to-use and install. Best suited for commercial contractors with up to $50 million in annual revenue, this product prepares many types of bids and estimates.
 
ProEst Estimating logo
 
Having developed software for more than 35 years, ProEst offers detailed applications for estimating, takeoffs and bid analysis. This system includes a customizable SQL database that's great for any size or type of contractor.
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Having developed software for more than 35 years, ProEst offers detailed applications for estimating, takeoffs and bid analysis. This system includes a customizable SQL database that's great for any size or type of contractor.

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ConEst IntelliBid logo
 
IntelliBid is a job estimating solution with advanced features analyzing things like weather & job site conditions. This solution ensures jobs are in compliance with codes, calculates labor needs, and even "what if?" analyses.
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IntelliBid is a job estimating solution with advanced features analyzing things like weather & job site conditions. This solution ensures jobs are in compliance with codes, calculates labor needs, and even "what if?" analyses.
 
TurboBid Estimating logo
 
TurboBid is a powerful estimating software solution that makes it easy for even the smallest contractor to complete accurate, consistent and professional estimates regardless of the type of work, whether it's new residential, light... Read More
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TurboBid is a powerful estimating software solution that makes it easy for even the smallest contractor to complete accurate, consistent and professional estimates regardless of the type of work, whether it's new residential, light... Read More
 
SharpeSoft Estimator logo
 
SharpeSoft Estimator is an on-premise cost estimating software for contractors and sub-contractors in the construction industry. Offered on a best-of-breed basis, SharpeSoft provides integrated tools for labor and equipment costing,... Read More
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SharpeSoft Estimator is an on-premise cost estimating software for contractors and sub-contractors in the construction industry. Offered on a best-of-breed basis, SharpeSoft provides integrated tools for labor and equipment costing,... Read More
 
WinEst logo
 
WinEstimator has over two decades of experience in the construction software industry. Utilizing this extensive expertise, their range of products offer companies of all sizes robust and highly adaptable cost-estimating and cost-modeling... Read More
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WinEstimator has over two decades of experience in the construction software industry. Utilizing this extensive expertise, their range of products offer companies of all sizes robust and highly adaptable cost-estimating and cost-modeling... Read More
 
Trimble AutoBid Mechanical logo
 
Trimble® AutoBid® Mechanical is a labor and material estimating solution that was designed for mechanical, piping and plumbing contractors who specialize in commercial work. Autobid Mechanical allows contractors to create more accurate... Read More
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Trimble® AutoBid® Mechanical is a labor and material estimating solution that was designed for mechanical, piping and plumbing contractors who specialize in commercial work. Autobid Mechanical allows contractors to create more accurate... Read More

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Trimble Accubid Enterprise Mechanical logo
 
Accubid's mechanical estimating software has one of the largest mechanical databases available on the market. Their industrial database has over 600,000 items and pre-built assemblies. This includes materials such as industrial valves... Read More
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Accubid's mechanical estimating software has one of the largest mechanical databases available on the market. Their industrial database has over 600,000 items and pre-built assemblies. This includes materials such as industrial valves... Read More
 
Trimble AutoBid SheetMetal logo
 
For Sheet Metal and HVAC/Ductwork contractors that do any combination of commercial, industrial and institutional work, Trimble® AutoBid® SheetMetal is designed specifically for the unique needs of the industry, providing estimates... Read More
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For Sheet Metal and HVAC/Ductwork contractors that do any combination of commercial, industrial and institutional work, Trimble® AutoBid® SheetMetal is designed specifically for the unique needs of the industry, providing estimates... Read More
 
Cubit logo
 
Cubit is construction estimating software by Buildsoft offering integrated bid management and estimating. The solution specializes in onscreen takeoff directly linked to estimating. If a user makes a change to their takeoff, it will... Read More
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Cubit is construction estimating software by Buildsoft offering integrated bid management and estimating. The solution specializes in onscreen takeoff directly linked to estimating. If a user makes a change to their takeoff, it will... Read More
 
Espro logo
 
Espro by Spearhead Software is a comprehensive estimating program that was engineered specifically for the electrical industry by estimators for estimators. Plumbers have become aware of this software and are now regularly contacting... Read More
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Espro by Spearhead Software is a comprehensive estimating program that was engineered specifically for the electrical industry by estimators for estimators. Plumbers have become aware of this software and are now regularly contacting... Read More
 
LEVESYS logo
 
LEVESYS is a construction project management tool designed to help contractors in a variety of industries create estimates, manage bids, schedule projects, correspond with customers, track finances, and manage follow-up repairs and... Read More
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LEVESYS is a construction project management tool designed to help contractors in a variety of industries create estimates, manage bids, schedule projects, correspond with customers, track finances, and manage follow-up repairs and... Read More
 

Buyer's Guide

by Eileen O'Loughlin,
Market Research Associate
Last Updated: May 25, 2017


There are more than 50 construction estimating and takeoff software packages available. They range from Excel add-ons to enterprise-class, multi-user systems. Some cost as little as $99 while others are a six-figure investment. Meanwhile, there are unique systems designed for different industries, trades and divisions.

If you haven't been in the market for some time (or ever), there's a lot to figure out. We've written this guide to help you make sense of the market so you can choose the best construction estimating software. Here's what we’ll cover:

Common Features of Construction Estimating Software
Benefits of This Application
How Estimating and Takeoff Differ
Market Trends to Understand
The Vendor Landscape

Common Features of Construction Estimating Software

Construction cost estimating software, also known as construction bidding software, helps estimators calculate material and labor costs as well as produce detailed, professional proposals from these estimates. While these systems have always been useful, the proliferation of fixed-bid work and intensifying competition for projects is making them an even more important tool. Below is a breakdown of the functionality included in a typical contractor estimating software package.

Construction Estimating Software Functionality


In case you aren't familiar with these terms, here is a plain English description of the function of each module.

Module
What it does
Proposal Generator Takes your cost estimates and creates an accurate and professional-looking bid proposal.
Cost database Stores materials and labor costs to reference when creating an estimate.
Visual assemblies Displays a graphical view of a build assembly to visualize which portion of the project you're estimating.
Labor & materials Automates labor and materials cost estimates based on calculations from your project takeoff.
Historical database Stores all of your past projects with related materials and labor cost estimates in a database.
Pre-built templates Accelerates the process by providing a set of commonly required parts and labor for standard jobs, such as a bathroom remodel.
Project reporting Creates cost breakdown reports using charts and graphs to improve the analysis of project costs.
What-if analysis Models how your bid will change if assumptions (e.g., project completion date) change.

Many contractors require specialized construction estimate software to handle their trade-specific requirements. As such, specialty contractors should evaluate products designed for their unique needs. For example, a mechanical contractor who needs to estimate custom sheet metal work for HVAC ducts would benefit from a specialized application such as Wendes Systems WenDuct.

Or, a residential contractor who is performing his own project estimates might want a straightforward, affordable residential estimating solution where ease of use trumps depth of functionality and sophistication. Other contractors that we often find have unique needs include electrical and earthwork contractors.

Benefits of This Application

Last year, we surveyed contractors, estimators, building owners and other construction professionals about their estimating processes. In our survey, we asked industry professionals about their top priorities for 2013 and beyond, and the benefits of using technology to support these processes.

The top priorities of construction firms (improved process standardization, accuracy and speed) mapped closely to the benefits firms say they noticed after deploying construction estimator software.

Benefits of Construction Estimating Software


To gain more insights into industry benchmarks and best practices, check out our 2012 Benchmark Report.

How Estimating and Takeoff Differ

We find that buyers sometimes confuse estimating software with takeoff software. The confusion stems partly from the fact that these two programs are often deployed in conjunction, as both are critical to developing accurate bids. But they perform two distinct functions. To simplify it:

  • Takeoff systems help measure plans and blueprints to estimate the amount of materials and labor needed to complete a project.
  • Construction estimating systems determine how much the estimated materials and labor will cost, and then produces a complete bid in a professional format.

This table will help you determine if you need takeoff or construction estimating software (or both):

If you... Then You Need...
Spend too much time measuring plans and blueprints Takeoff
Often incorrectly estimate labor/materials quantities Takeoff
Spend too much time calculating labor/materials costs Estimating
Often incorrectly estimate labor/materials costs Estimating
Have trouble creating professional-looking bid proposals Estimating
Need one system to estimate labor/materials quantities & costs Both

If, after reviewing our table of common pain points, you realize that a takeoff program is what you need, head over to our takeoff systems buyer's guide to better understand this market.

Market Trends to Understand

These pre-construction application market trends should be considered when evaluating a new system and reading construction estimating software reviews.

Digital takeoff. Digital takeoff has matured and it provides many efficiencies. It reduces the cost, time and hassle of printing paper plans. It also costs less than a plotter or reprographic service. Most systems can measure .pdf, .tiff, .dwg, AutoCAD and other digital file formats. Buyers should strongly consider (and trial) digital takeoff before investing in another digitizer board.

Increased competition for jobs. The sluggish economy means that contractors are competing for fewer jobs. GCs and project sponsors are running more intense selection processes with shorter bid turnaround times. Contractors need to produce bids faster and more accurately to compete for more jobs, win and make a profit.

Geographic migration. Some companies are now bidding on jobs outside their traditional territory. The availability of electronic plan files via online plan rooms, as well as data from BIM files, makes it easier to identify projects and get the data necessary to produce a bid. To compete, contractors need an efficient infrastructure that will allow them to access these online plan rooms.

Multi-user estimation. Many contractors are seeing a need to involve more employees in the process. In some cases, this results from growth. In other cases it results from a reaction to turnover of seasoned estimators and the resulting skills gap. And other times it results from a desire to gain consensus on estimates. Regardless, demand for multi-user systems is growing and if this is an important consideration you should evaluate the best vendors that support many users.

The Vendor Landscape

The application landscape is highly fragmented and can be confusing. However, we can simplify the market by matching top-rated solutions to our four buyer types.

If you are a... Then you should evaluate...
Commercial Contractor ProEst, Maxwell ProContractorMX, OnCenter On-Screen Takeoff, Sage Timberline, QuickMeasure
Electrical Contractor Accubid, ConEst, McCormick, Electrical Bid Manager
Mechanical/HVAC Contractor Accubid, Wendes, QuoteExpress
Earthwork Contractor / Heavy Construction Contractor BID2WIN, Hard Dollar, HCSS, SharpeSoft, WinEx Master
Residential Contractor Clear Estimates, Contractor's Office, GiddyUp, My Project Estimator

 

Free Download:
Construction Estimating Software Pricing Guide

Free Download:
Construction Software Buyer's Toolkit

 

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