As a builder, creating an accurate budget estimate is key to the success of your construction project. A well-planned and detailed estimate helps you stay on top of things, but it’s no secret that the estimation process itself has many complex steps.
First, you need to analyze the layout of the construction site and estimate the material and labor that’ll be required. Then you create the project budget by finding the cost of materials from distributors or third-party cost databases. Finally, you present the data as a building cost report to the client.
Performing these tasks manually can not only be time-consuming but also lead to poor-quality takeoff and, as a result, unrealistic estimates. To ease the burden, you can use construction estimating software. These solutions offer takeoff measurement features, built-in calculators, proposal generators, and integration with cost databases to make the cost estimating process easier for you.
Purchasing a construction estimation solution can be expensive. Keeping that in mind, we’ve listed three free construction estimating software tools you can use for cost control. These products are listed alphabetically. Click here to read how we chose the featured products.
eTakeoff Dimension is a construction takeoff solution that helps you estimate the quantity and calculate the cost of labor and materials required to complete a project.
The tool allows you to take digital measurements of a construction site using tools such as extensions and assemblies. It integrates with Microsoft Excel, allowing you to drag and drop material quantities and measurements for performing cost estimation.
eTakeoff also offers a separate paid program called Bridge. Bridge allows the Dimension program to integrate with Sage Estimating, a cost estimating tool, to seamlessly transfer takeoff measurements for creating cost estimates.
Other features include:
- Overlays for comparing two different drawings.
- Simultaneous batch printing of drawings on multiple printers.
- Multiuser collaboration on the same drawing.
The software offers a takeoff tool that lets you measure the area, perimeter, etc., of site drawing and layouts, helping you estimate the quantity of materials needed for a project. Also, your team members can collaborate on the calculations and export the takeoff report as an Excel or a PDF document.
Other features include:
- Gantt charts to schedule tasks for project team members.
- A tender portal to publish your tenders online for subcontractor bids.
- Document management to store and share project files with stakeholders.
STACK is a takeoff and estimating solution that lets you create construction cost estimates and perform takeoff calculations. It offers an item and assembly library that you can use to estimate the cost of labor, equipment, and materials required to complete a project.
The software allows you to markup and measure site drawings using area, linear, and count tools. You can also upload project documents (blueprints, drawings, etc.) to the takeoff template library, which can be accessed by multiple users for collaborative editing.
Other features include:
- A bid calendar to track all contractor bids in one place.
- Project status tracking to check the progress of projects.
- Takeoff and cost estimating reports for further project analysis.
What should you do next?
While free tools provide a starting ground to explore estimation software, they may not be the best option for all kinds of businesses. The primary reason being, free tools often come with limitations in features and the number of supported users.
These tools can work well if you’re a startup with a few clients or projects. But if your construction company is planning to scale up projects in the near future, consider purchasing a cost estimating solution with all the features your business needs to create detailed estimates.
Check out our construction estimating software directory to learn about common software features, products most recommended by our advisors, and top-rated tools based on reviews from real users like you.
How we chose the featured products
This article was updated on May 10, 2021. Products considered for this article had to:
- Offer a free, stand-alone version of the software (not a trial software version where you must purchase a product after a limited amount of time).
- Meet our construction estimating market definition: Construction estimating software helps construction firm owners and managers to accurately determine the total cost of a construction project, from materials to labor to equipment, and then to draft invoices, change orders, purchase orders, and other necessary documents over the course of the construction project.
- Offer the following core features: estimation and proposal generator.
Product ratings are as of May 10, 2021.