Choosing Construction Estimating Software
Contractors preparing to make the transition from spreadsheets and legal pads to professional construction estimating software are faced with an intimidating selection of various construction estimating software. With dozens of solutions running the gamut in quality, prices and features, how can you select the correct construction estimating software for your business?
The first step in slimming down the number of choices is to identify your required features. Common requirements might include:
- Detailed or professional costbooks for government and commercial work
- Level of detail
- Integration with your accounting software
- The ability to generate proposals, bids and reports from estimates
- Platform: Desktop vs Web-based
Make a list of your desired features and compare products against it to narrow your choices down to a few construction software candidates. Once you've got your list, call each vendor and request detailed pricing information. After all, if the construction software you're interested in is outside your price range there isn't much use in giving it a trial run.
Construction estimating software spans a huge level of prices. While some smaller, simpler solutions might cost as little as $200-$800, larger installations could be as much as $10,000-$20,000. Likewise, some estimating solutions are going to be included in a full-fledged project management solution which normally have subscription pricing.
Once you've eliminated solutions which are out of your price range you're ready to try out the remaining ones. We strongly discourage contractors from considering construction software solutions that don't offer a free trial or have a trial that you must pay for. Things to keep in mind when testing out various construction estimating software:
- Does it handle change orders?
- How long do you estimate it will take you to learn?
- How does the accounting integration work? Will you have to double enter values between the estimating program and your accounting program?
- Is it faster or more accurate than your previous method of estimating?
- How is company margin handled? Are costs correctly pro-rated with your margin?
Remember that if you're like most construction businesses the speed and accuracy with which you can generate estimates is one of the most important factors of your business. Test each solution extensively, ask questions and make a knowledgeable, informed decision about your purchase.