5 Popular Free and Open Source Construction Estimating and Takeoff Software

by:
on September 25, 2019

Performing accurate cost estimating is critical to the success of your construction business. Estimate too high and you win fewer jobs, too low and your profits disappear. That’s why it’s so important to get it right the first time.

Estimating by hand is time-consuming, so at some point, you may consider using software to bid more jobs in less time. Although software can be a big investment, not every tool has to break the bank.

In this guide, we highlight five free and open source estimating and takeoff products to try if you’re considering this type of solution for your construction business. We chose products that offer a stand-alone free or open source version, meet our definition for construction estimating software, and rank highly in search. (Learn more about how we chose featured products here.)

Free construction estimating and takeoff software

In most cases (but not all), free construction estimating and takeoff software options earn revenue by offering a basic free version to entice users to download, with premium features available for a price.

As a result, you should note that the free version of the products listed below may not have all the features you need.

Easy-Pro Builders Estimator

  N/A
No reviews yet

Easy-Pro Builder Estimator is a free program based on Apache software (Source)

Overview: This is a 100% free tool that is based entirely on the Apache OpenOffice spreadsheet program Calc. It has two dozen worksheets that report back to a summary page in order to provide updated estimates.

Easy-Pro Builders Estimator was created by a construction manager who wanted to serve smaller construction firms looking for an accurate and simple program that was free.

The software also comes with a 20-page manual so you can get up to speed on how the program works and you’re not simply left in the dark to figure it out yourself.

Some features include:

  • Adjustable taxation rates depending on which country you are in
  • Client unbilled reporting
  • Printable project reports
  • Compatible with Windows, Linux
  • 24 trade worksheets available

Estimator 2.0

  5.0/5
1 review

Estimator 2.0 is available for free download and comes with a tutorial (Source)

Overview: Estimator 2.0 is aimed at architects, builders, engineers, and construction companies that want to create detailed estimates for residential and commercial buildings. Estimator 2.0 allows users to prepare tenders, a cost abstract, purchase orders, and other documents needed for a proper estimation.

The free program lets you create an estimation and then print it out, ideal for those who are pressed for time and want to quickly make an estimation without having to spend a lot of money on premier software.

Estimator lets construction companies create estimates for a host of construction projects, including concrete structures, earth work, masonry, plastering, and more.

Some features include:

  • An extensive tutorial for new users
  • Quickly generate an estimate and then print it out
  • Prepares tenders, cost abstracts, and purchase orders
  • Compatibility with Windows

STACK Takeoff & Estimating Software

  4.46/5
950+ reviews

STACK offers free construction estimating software and the option to upgrade to a paid version (Source)

Overview: STACK offers free construction software aimed at firms looking to streamline the bid process and accurately estimate materials, equipment, and labor. The software also provides access to an “extensive library of prebuilt, industry-specific material libraries,” according to its website. It generates an estimate based on your input of how much of each material will be needed and what labor, equipment, and overhead will be involved.

The software is cloud-based and therefore can be accessed from anywhere there is an internet connection. It is also compatible with all types of platforms, from smartphones to desktop computers.

STACK also includes training with the software for free. A full-featured version is available for purchase.

Some features include:

  • Ability to upload digital plans
  • Takeoff tools that provide shortcuts for measurements, making it quicker to produce a takeoff
  • Prebuilt reports to provide insights to inform your estimates
  • Cloud-based
  • Free training

Open source construction estimating and takeoff software

Open source construction estimating and takeoff platforms are also free, but they have an additional wrinkle: the original source code is available. There are some benefits and drawbacks to this you should be aware of.

The benefits are that in addition to being free, you will be able to customize and adapt the software to fit your individual business.

The drawback comes up if you don’t have the know-how to mess with original source code. Lack of technical ability could become a problem if the software needs improvement down the road to fit your firm.

2-plan Team Software

  4.50/5
5 reviews

2-plan Team is entirely free and open source software with some capabilities helpful to estimators (Source)

Overview: 2-plan Team is a project management platform geared toward construction firms, and among its three PM tools is an open-source desktop system that can be used for multiple projects and teams. It is mostly meant for managing the entirety of a construction project as opposed to just estimating and takeoff, but there are tools available for that purpose as well.

The source code for 2-plan Team has been published at SourceForge, where you can download it for free. It can be installed on any LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL-4 or higher, PHP-5.1) server, and it may work on some Windows servers.

Some features include:

  • Manage virtual teams with shared online workspaces
  • View the status of multiple projects at the same time with the Project Dashboard
  • Tracks time on mobile devices
  • Ability to share estimates and budgets with clients, partners, teams, and staff
  • Ability to manage teams via mobile devices

ESTIMATE

  N/A
No reviews yet

ESTIMATE is free and open source software, meaning you can customize it for your business (Source)

Overview: ESTIMATE is a cloud-based, open-source option that has been released under GNU Affero General Public License. It’s a community-support project, which means the source code is freely available to anyone who wants to customize it for their own construction firm—ideal for construction managers with a little coding know-how.

ESTIMATE aims to be a simple and fast tool that can be adapted to any firm’s size.

Some features include:

  • Ability to archive projects and documents for reference
  • Can have up to 200 users
  • Can create reports in PDF, complete with tables and charts
  • A centralized database for backup

Why you must also consider paid solutions

Free and open source estimating software is a great stepping stone for many small construction firms—especially those using software for the first time. But as job volume increases, paid software often becomes the better choice.

Why? Higher job volume and company growth means more people, processes, and training are necessary to estimate and complete projects. Paid software offers more “out-of-the-box” functionality than free software, as well as training, support, and integration with other critical applications, such as accounting and construction management software.

Fortunately, there are affordable estimating and takeoff products that also offer free trials. With a free trial, you can try before you buy and avoid purchasing a product your team won’t like.

You’ll get more functionality

When you opt for free and open source platforms, you get what you pay for a lot of the time. There are a lot of special features that can really take your business to the next level—like customized reports and detailed time tracking—that you may not get with a free option. So while you may save a few bucks on software, you’re spending a lot more in lost savings and opportunities.

The software will be more usable

Free and open source platforms can also be a lot more challenging for an organization to use. You’ll have to do your own troubleshooting and maintenance, and you may have a hard time just learning the software with no help.

To help ensure your software search is sufficiently thorough, download this list of top-rated paid software systems and their offerings:

3 Best Construction Estimating and Takeoff Systems Backed by User Reviews

Download this guide to see top construction estimating and takeoff systems based on real user reviews.

 

How we chose featured products

For the purposes of this article, we classified a product as free if it offers a free, stand-alone version of the software, and it is not just a trial version of the software that requires you to purchase it after a period of time.

The products that met the above criteria were then evaluated against our construction estimating software definition: Construction estimating software helps estimators calculate material and labor costs for a job and then produce a detailed, professional bid proposal from those estimates. Specialized estimating tools are often used to handle trade-specific requirements, such as electrical, HVAC, plumbing, or earthworks/excavating estimating.

We determined the most popular products to feature by choosing those highest ranked in Google search results for “free construction estimating software” during the week of Aug. 5, 2019.

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