Want to jump straight to the answer? For the majority of construction companies, ProEst will provide the best results for a wide range of needs, including creating accurate bids.
Before submitting a bid for a construction project, your business needs to create an estimate. Using a spreadsheet or a pencil and paper to try to come up with an accurate estimate is sure to lead to errors.
The better option is to use one of the best construction estimating software tools available to you. These take all aspects of a construction project into consideration—including materials, time, and labor costs—often with a focus on the local market.
In this list, we’ve compared and reviewed the best software options for generating construction estimates.
The Top 7 Best Construction Estimating Software Tools
- ProEst — Best overall for most construction companies
- Stack — Best for estimating construction labor requirements
- Clear Estimates — Best for residential construction companies
- Sage Estimating — Best for commercial construction companies
- Smartbid — Best for general contractors who use subcontractors
- ConEst — Best for electricians and electrical contractors
- QuoteSoft — Best for plumbers and plumbing contractors
#1 – ProEst — Best Overall for Most Construction Companies
- Versatile software tool
- Handle takeoff and bidding
- Build customer relationships
- Excellent training materials
For the construction company that needs to make estimates while managing customer relationships effectively, ProEst is an excellent choice. It has a wide range of features, including built-in takeoff and bidding software.
Making use of ProEst will greatly simplify the process of bidding for jobs.
Because of its versatility, ProEst works for construction companies of all sizes. It helps subcontractors, general contractors, and companies involved in civil construction.
ProEst even offers a free non-profit program that helps charitable organizations manage construction projects and costs.
ProEst works from a subscription-based pricing model, paid upfront for the year. It does not place limits on the number of people within the company that can use it, providing a nice value for a construction company with many people involved in generating bids.
For companies that need help with generating estimates, ProEst offers multiple training materials, included in the overall subscription price. A free demonstration version of the software is available, but you will have to contact ProEst for pricing quotes.
#2 – Stack — Best for Estimating Construction Labor Requirements
- Versatile construction package
- Easy to estimate labor costs
- Use the historical database
- Receive takeoff and bidding tools
One of the most popular construction estimating software packages is the versatile Stack. But its primary strength lies in its ability to accurately estimate the amount of labor required for various construction projects.
Determining accurate labor costs is challenging for those creating bid estimates. Stack simplifies this process by offering a historical database companies can use to store information on labor costs for past jobs, providing accurate information for future bidding processes.
Many different construction companies can use Stack successfully. It has tools that can drill down to industry-specific needs when creating bids. These can include concrete, roofing, and landscaping companies, as well as general, residential, and commercial contractors.
Additionally, Stack has both takeoff and bidding software packages built into it. These features make it easy to create accurate bids in a short amount of time.
As a cloud-based software package, all discussions and data included with Stack remain stored with the software. Team members don’t have to search through email messages to find the desired information to help with the bidding process.
Stack offers a free trial version of the software, as well as versions that start at $1,999 per year. A customized version is also available, but potential customers will have to call for a price quote on it.
#3 – Clear Estimates — Best for Residential Construction Companies
- Excels for smaller jobs
- Offers proposal templates
- Extremely easy to use
- Reasonable pricing tiers
For a smaller construction or general contracting company that focuses on residential jobs, construction estimating software needs to be extremely easy to use. It also needs to provide accuracy for small jobs. Making mistakes on estimating a small job can cause the company to lose money in a hurry.
Clear Estimates focuses on helping small contractors generate accurate bids with very little time and effort. General contractors will appreciate being able to spend less time crafting bids and more time working on the job site.
The company behind Clear Estimates actually started as a remodeling company, so the company understands the challenges that general contractors face.
Clear Estimates comes with dozens of templates that provide the basic framework for generating bids on common residential construction and remodeling jobs. These templates lead to sharp-looking bid proposals, which can give a small company a professional edge.
The software stores pricing estimates for commonly used parts and materials, and even adjusts the pricing estimates for the local area in which the company works, ensuring a higher level of accuracy.
Clear Estimates offers a 30-day free trial period for all of its pricing tiers, which start at $59 per month. That’s much cheaper than most of the construction bid software packages on our list.
#4 – Sage Estimating — Best for Commercial Construction Companies
- Versatile software package
- Perfect for large companies
- Multiple add-on packages
- Can use 2D and 3D plans
Sage Estimating has a number of advanced features that will appeal to large construction companies that bid on complex projects.
In addition to accurately estimating the cost of commercial-grade jobs, Sage Estimating has a number of cost tracking and project management tools. These features will help the company create an even more accurate bid the next time by recalling information from past jobs.
One of Sage Estimating’s most useful tools for large companies is its 5D BIM feature. This makes use of both two- and three-dimensional product drawings and plans to generate an accurate cost estimate for the project.
Sage lacks a mobile or cloud-based version at this time. It’s only available as a piece of Windows software that users can install on their local computers. That’s not an issue for larger companies that have people dedicated to generating bids primarily working on a desktop computer.
Sage has a wide range of products aimed at multiple industries beyond construction, including accounting, chemical production, manufacturing, and wholesale distribution. It also offers ERP, HR, CRM, and inventory and supply chain management software.
A large construction company may have a need for more than one type of software to operate the company, and Sage can help with these needs. Customers must contact Sage for a price quote and information.
#5 – Smartbid — Best for General Contractors Who Use Subcontractors
- Track subcontractors
- Easily request bids
- Highly useful mobile version
- Add integrations as needed
General contractors often find themselves using subcontractors for specialty work or to handle overflow work. To accurately bid out a job proposal when regularly using subcontractors is challenging, but Smartbid is a strong construction estimating tool for this use case.
Through Smartbid, the general contractor is able to maintain a database of useful subcontractors. It also gives the general contractor the ability to ask subcontractors to submit bids for various jobs, sharing project details and documents.
As subcontractors submit their bids for different aspects of the overall project, Smartbid will track these bids and will make it easy to compare them.
Smartbid even allows the general contractor to prequalify any subcontractors, guaranteeing they have the licenses required.
As subcontractors complete their portion of the overall job, they’re able to submit verification through Smartbid. The general contractor can use Smartbid to ensure the subcontractor is following all compliance rules and regulations.
Smartbid does offer a useful mobile version of its software, as well.
However, it does not have takeoff or bidding features built into it. Users will need to add these features through third-party integrations, if desired. Smartbid easily integrates with some of the popular construction estimating software packages on our list, including Stack.
Potential customers will need to contact Smartbid to obtain pricing information or to request a demonstration.
#6 – ConEst — Best for Electricians and Electrical Contractors
- Perfect for electricians
- Has useful add-on tools
- Import project plans
- Maintain a parts database
Electrical work can range from simple jobs like adding an outlet in a home to complex jobs like wiring an entire commercial building. With so many different types of jobs available for electrical contractors, maintaining accuracy in the bidding process can be a significant challenge.
ConEst provides a number of add-on tools that deliver extra features for the most accurate bidding on jobs. Electricians receive tools for takeoffs and bidding in addition to its general estimation software. The JobTrack tool helps the electrical contractor manage any projects that are in progress.
When ConEst imports project plans, it will keep the information in the platform to help with starting the job after winning the bid. It also stores a list of several hundred thousand parts that help electricians research costs and make accurate bids.
ConEst uses the CE Cloud interface for those who want to run the software from the cloud. For those who want to run ConEst from a Windows environment on a local computer, they’ll use the IntelliBid interface.
Potential customers can request a demonstration version of the software. They will need to contact the company to receive a price quote.
#7 – QuoteSoft — Best for Plumbers and Plumbing Contractors
- Top features for plumbers
- Large parts database
- Easily track subcontractors
- Pull data from blueprints
Plumbers looking to generate accurate estimates for their residential and commercial jobs can rely on QuoteSoft to provide the features they need. With QuoteSoft, plumbing contractors can create bids that take into account up-to-date pricing estimates on materials and labor costs.
With QuoteSoft, plumbers are able to import project plans and blueprints. The software then can pull information from those drawings to generate an accurate bid. This feature also speeds up the process of creating bids, which is helpful for a busy plumber.
For those plumbing companies that are looking to hire additional employees, QuoteSoft gives them the ability to track qualified people in a database. When a plumbing contractor needs extra help on a job, the database in QuoteSoft aids in finding skilled help quickly.
The software maintains a database with tens of thousands of parts and products that plumbers use regularly, which simplifies estimating materials costs when bidding jobs.
QuoteSoft also has products aimed at helping contractors who focus on HVAC work, ductwork, and piping. Potential customers can request a demonstration of the software, or they can contact the sales team for a price quote.
How to Find the Best Construction Estimating Software for You
Finding just the right estimating software for a construction company depends in part on understanding how the company operates. A general contractor that subcontracts a few jobs will need a different type of software than a commercial construction company handling huge projects.
Here are the most important criteria to consider when selecting construction estimation software.
When using a cloud-based construction estimating software package, companies primarily will rely on the web version of the software on a computer in the office. However, at some point, the majority of construction companies are going to want to take the software with them to the jobsite.
Mobile apps for construction software will run the gamut. Some apps have nearly all of the same features and power of the web version. Others will be very simple apps that don’t really help all that much when team members are out of the office.
Estimating software that has the ability to track the company’s past bids and its actual expenses for various projects provides valuable information for generating bids.
Rather than referring to paper records or old spreadsheets for information to add to the estimating software, you should be able to pull the information directly from the software’s data archive. This reduces manual entry data errors and increases accuracy of the bids.
Construction estimating software will give the company the ability to create accurate estimates. This is the basis of this type of software. It gives the construction company the ability to go line by line in estimating costs for things like materials, labor, fuel, and equipment.
Estimating software may provide a couple of other functions that allow it to provide additional accuracy and to simplify managing the submission of bids. These add-ons may include takeoff software and bidding software.
Some construction estimating software contains built-in takeoff software. This will measure information from documents associated with the bid generation process, such as blueprints or specification sheets. The takeoff system then uses that information to help to create the cost estimate for the job.
Some estimating software packages also include bidding software as part of the overall package. This type of software helps the company manage the bids it has outstanding. It also can generate bids and RFPs (requests for proposals), helping the company match the parameters set forth in the bidding process.
Although we believe ProEst is the best construction estimating software for the majority of companies, it won’t be the perfect choice for every situation.
Stack is another highly versatile construction estimating software tool. Its greatest strength lies in generating estimations of the labor costs required to complete a job, yielding highly accurate bids.
Contractors who specialize in plumbing or electrical work will want to focus on software that specifically helps them, such as QuoteSoft or ConEst, respectively. General contractors who often use subcontractors will appreciate the features found in Smartbid.
Construction companies of all sizes know that winning bids is the lifeblood of the company. However, winning bids by going too low because of inaccurate estimations of potential costs does not help any company. Our list of the best construction estimating software packages will allow companies to generate more accurate bids, which helps the bottom line.