Construction estimating software helps contractors have an efficient process for creating cost, material, and labor estimates for construction projects while reducing the risk of errors. The software may be available as a desktop product, cloud-based, or both. There are versions that were designed for home renovation and building contractors, large commercial construction companies, and for specific trades like electricians or plumbers.
The software is also an upgrade from trying to win bids by using tedious spreadsheets. Studies have shown that 94% of spreadsheets have errors in them. Human input errors multiply small mistakes across spreadsheet formulas that result in shrinking contractor profit.
We reviewed 20 different programs that can help contractors estimate more efficiently and with fewer errors. We found seven perfect for different types of contractors based on price, ease of use, customer support, and key features. Read on to find your favorite.
The 7 Best Construction Estimating Software of 2021
Best Overall: ProEst
Best overall winner ProEst created an all-in-one solution that not only does takeoffs and cost estimating, but also has a built-in customer relationship management (CRM) function so you can keep your client information organized and your notes up to date.
All-in-one software solution includes CRM
Cost is based on what you use
Multiple integrations included
Supports unlimited users
More expensive than most
No “what-if” analysis
Not available for HVAC contractors
ProEst comes with CRM, cost estimating, takeoffs, integrations, reporting, and everything else a user would need from a construction estimating software, earning it the top spot in our list of best construction estimating software programs.
ProEst is one of the more expensive construction estimating software solutions out there, with prices starting at $5,000 per year, making it more appealing to large contractors. While there are no pre-designed pricing models, the final cost you will pay depends on the features you will use.
Buying the software comes with unlimited support and unlimited access to training videos so you can learn the nuts and bolts of ProEst without spending hours digging through a manual.
The software's numerous high-end features include 40+ standard reports, bid management, bid day analysis, CRM, collaboration tools, cost estimating, and much more. ProEst integrates with QuickBooks, Premier, RSMeans Data, CMiC, Foundation, Spectrum, ComputerEase, Acumatica Cloud ERP, and Procore.
Founded in 1976 with more than 8,000 clients and three worldwide locations, ProEst is rightfully titled the best overall construction estimating software.
Easiest to Use: EasyEst
If you’re just starting with construction estimating software and want something simpler and more user-friendly, EasyEst is here to meet your expectations. It’s designed to meet the needs of all users, regardless of their level of experience, making it our top pick for easy-to-use software.
Easy to use
A lot of training and how-to videos
Great customer support
Requires installing on Windows
No integrations offered
The reason why EasyEst has come out on top as the easiest software to use is because of all the resources it offers to users. Every feature is explained with a how-to video, so anyone can learn how to use it on their time, and master the software without having to go through a training period.
For those that want to test out its features, EasyEst offers a 30-day free trial, after which there is a one-time purchase cost of $329, which includes a license to download the software on two Windows-based computers.
There are detailed “how-to” videos on their website you can use to learn the software and use its features. In addition to this, a customer support team works 24/7 through live chat and email.
The software needs to be downloaded and is compatible only with the Windows operating system. Once you download it, you will get access to its unique bid items, custom item level modifiers, the option to check for errors, item selection, and a bid information form. You can organize bid items such as locations, miscellaneous field grouping, header separator lines, and advanced features like standard formulas, super assemblies, bid merge, and tag menu and column.
EasyEst was founded in 1982 to use computers for estimating, scheduling, and accounting. They have earned a loyal list of admirers like Southern Homes of Charleston, Highlander Design + Build, EECON Construction Services, and more.
Best Value: Contractor Foreman
Coming in at only $49 per month for three users, with over 35 modules included, Contractor Foreman's Standard package is the best value option you can find in the market today.
Less expensive than competitors
Free online training, support, and updates
Only three users with basic package
Limited online training hours
Basic package has no integrations
The features included with Contractor Foreman usually come at a high cost of over $100 per month from other vendors, but this software charges just a fraction of that price, starting at only $49 per month for the Standard package, making it our top choice for cheap construction estimating software.
The software also has a free 30-day trial, as well as three higher-priced packages with additional features:
- The Plus plan, at $87 per month, gives you five more users, an additional training hour, and integration with QuickBooks Online.
- With Pro, for $123 per month, you have 15 users, six training hours, and integration with both QuickBooks Desktop and Online versions.
- Their Unlimited plan, at $148 per month, gives you unlimited users and eight free training hours.
There are occasional promotions for further savings. You also have the option to buy two years upfront and get a third year free, making your monthly cost average even lower.
Through the iOS and Android apps, users can access and control their operations remotely. On the downside, though, the Standard package of Contractor Foreman comes only with three users, which may be too few for some bigger companies.
As proof of its reliability and competence, Contractor Foreman has grown to be found in over 75 countries where it has received many awards and recognitions from Capterra, GetApp, and Software Advice.
Best for Small Contractors: Projul
Projul is an intuitive, feature-rich, and affordable software solution designed specifically for contractors and construction companies that have one to 50 employees, earning our highest recommendation as best for small contractors.
Multiple packages to choose from
Price stays the same forever
Easy to access customer support
Not a great fit for large contractors
Expensive package costs
While Projul’s packages support an unlimited number of users, as a solution specifically designed for small contractors, users with up to 50 employees can maximize its features.
- TRACK Hammer: $49 per month if billed annually, or $69 monthly, for one user
- FRAMING Hammer: $99 per month if billed annually, or $129 monthly, for three users
- RIP Hammer: $189 per month if billed annually, or $249 monthly, for six users
- SLEDGE Hammer: $299 per month if billed annually, or $389 monthly, for 15 users
- JACK Hammer: $599 per month if billed annually, or $779 monthly, for unlimited users
All packages come with all the features as well as an unlimited number of projects, files and photos, leads, free training, and support. The cost difference for each level is just the number of users you need.
Projul is a cloud-based software designed for both mobile and desktop, and their apps can be found in the Google Play Store and in Apple’s App Store. It offers lead and task management, photos and document storage, and project management tools like estimating, change orders, time-tracking, and more. There are estimates and change orders with eSignature included in all packages, and Projul also syncs your data directly to and from QuickBooks.
Projul Inc was officially founded in 2019 with the ultimate goal to solve construction management problems that weren’t previously solved for brothers Brock and Kurt Clayson in their specialty construction company Sound Tile & Grout (founded 2013).
Best for Customer Support: CoConstruct
CoConstruct has the highest ratings when it comes to customer support and user training, earning top marks for construction estimating software with the best customer support.
Superb customer service
Training and coaching available
Comprehensive advanced features
Free trial doesn’t display all features
Only month-to-month pricing plans
CoConstruct has phone, email, online chat support, as well as an FAQ page about every feature they offer, so everyone can find the answer they need with a few clicks. It’s no wonder why it has earned top satisfaction ratings and reigns as our best for customer support.
They currently have five different plans.
- Their self-service RAMP plan costs $49 per month for unlimited usage for two months while you learn the basics
- Plus 5 Plan: $299 per month, five active projects, unlimited users
- Plus 10 Plan: $399 per month, 10 active projects, unlimited users
- Plus 15 Plan: $499 per month, 15 active projects, unlimited users
- Unlimited Projects Plan: custom quote
The software has pre-construction features, project management, financial features, as well as day-to-day operation options. CoConstruct also has a mobile app for remote tracking.
In addition to all the features, CoConstruct integrates with some of the most advanced and popular apps and platforms, including Dropbox, Microsoft Outlook, Facebook, Google Calendar, QuickBooks, and Xero.
CoConstruct was founded in 2004 by a wife and husband duo after an unpleasant construction experience that left them with a mess that took them too long to set straight. Today, CoConstruct prides itself with near-perfect satisfaction scores in Trustpilot, Capterra, GetApp, and Top Rated, proving their reliability and the satisfaction others have had with the software.
Best for Large Businesses: Sage Estimating
SageEstimates is packed with high-quality cost tracking, accounting, contract estimating, project management, and digital takeoff features, making it the best pick for large businesses that need advanced features to manage their business.
Customizable price plans
Advanced 5D BIM e-takeoff bridge
Has apps and software for multiple business aspects
Costs start at $99 per month
Windows installation version only
No cloud, no Mac, and no app
Sage specializes in advanced features designed to help large companies simplify the estimation process, decide on a cost faster, and streamline the overall management system, earning it our top pick for construction estimating software for large businesses.
By using Sage, users can simplify the overall quote evaluation, save time in the data entry process by eliminating duplicate entries, automate the purchase order generation, and more. Purchasing Sage also grants you access to Liberty Reports, a feature that connects Microsoft Excel to Sage and turns it into a reporting and analytical tool. Pricing starts at $3,500 and varies by features used and number of users.
What Sage stands out for is the 5D BIM feature that combines 2D digital drawings and 3D models to estimate the cost of a project through its dimensions with the integrated help of eTakeoff and Autodesk.
Sadly, Sage integrates only with its own brand apps, but considering they cover almost every aspect of a business, they may be quite enough for some businesses.
Sage was founded in 1981 by David Goldman to create quotes quickly for his print business and keep track of his accounts. It is now used by 59% of the ENR (Engineering News-Record) top 400 contractors, 33% of the ENR top 600 specialty contractors, and 31% of the Boulder 100.
Best Cloud-Based: Buildertrend
Unlike many cloud-based software solutions that use overcomplicated, complex user interfaces, Buildertrend allows its users to fully customize the look of the platform, making it our choice for the best cloud-based estimating software that's easy to use and simple to understand.
Includes a lot of third-party integrations
Great customer support
Compatible with all operating systems
No bids, warranties, or change orders in the affordable Core option
No forecasting feature
The $99 rate lasts for only three months, then jumps to $299 per month
Buildertrend is ideal for those who want cloud-based software that's easy to use and compatible with all operating systems. It comes with a variety of features and customizable options that make it our top choice for cloud-based construction estimating software.
Prices start at $99 per month for the Core plan and can go far beyond this for the customized Premium pricing plan. Buildertrend doesn't have a free version or a free trial, but they do offer a free demo and a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Buildertrend’s simple setup allows users to keep track of their customers and provide better follow-up by using the activity notes to remember important dates or information about each project. Another striking feature is Buildertrend allows the home-builder to share project updates and images with their client.
The list of integrations is pretty lengthy and includes almost every popular construction-related app or software. Buildertrend currently cooperates with Silverstone Group, Cadsoft, Chief Architect, QuickBooks, Xero, Clear Estimates, Cubit, Dropbox, eTakeoff, Microsoft Excel, Planswift, PrebuiltML, PrioSoft, ProEst, Softplan, Stack, and more.
Buildertrend has been serving the construction industry since 2006 and has become a leading project management software trusted by many renowned companies.
Relying on spreadsheets for material and labor cost estimates can open you up to the risk of input and equation errors, duplicate data entry, and amateur-looking proposals. Construction estimating software has been helping contractors to save time building estimates, increasing their accuracy, reducing errors, and protecting profit margins.
Construction estimating software is a vast market, however, so it requires some sifting to find the features and usability that’s the best fit for you. For example, some software must be downloaded, and some only work on Windows computers. Others are cloud-based and have apps for both Android and Apple users.
We chose ProEst as our best overall because for an industry average price model it offers a robust suite of features, the customer support training needed to help you learn it quickly, extra features like a built-in CRM module, and integrations with other programs.
|Best Construction Estimating Software|
|Company||Why We Picked It||Starting/Average Cost|
|ProEst||Best Overall||$5,000 annually|
|EasyEst||Easiest to Use||$329, one-time-purchase|
|Contractor Foreman||Best Value||$49 monthly|
|Projul||Best for Small Contractors||$49 monthly|
|CoConstruct||Best for Customer Support||$49 monthly|
|Sage Estimating||Best for Large Businesses||$3,500 annually|
|Buildertrend||Best Cloud-Based||$99 monthly|
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Construction Estimating Software
What Is Construction Estimating Software?
Contractors use construction estimating software to record and schedule material, labor, and other job costs to generate a proposal estimate that includes pricing and a timeline for their client.
Construction estimating software is designed to streamline the estimating process, save time, and reduce errors that have been proven to happen when using spreadsheets. As a functional improvement over spreadsheets, construction estimating software can also create reports and estimates with built-in templates, manage client information as a CRM, and integrate with other software that a contractor typically uses.
How Does Construction Estimating Software Work?
Many construction estimating software programs integrate with a supplier pricing database. When the software creates a materials list, either user-generated or digitally generated through what is called a “take-off,” the program grabs the cost of those materials from the database and assigns them to the contractor’s specific materials list for the job.
Many estimating software programs take it a step further and have bundled costs for assemblies. An assembly of bundled materials that create a more developed end-product can save the contractor time when reviewing plans and lists, and when communicating with the client or sub-contractors.
Who Should Use Construction Estimating Software?
Contractors from large commercial construction companies to small business home builders, and even specific trades professionals, will all benefit from the time-saving, error-reducing, and report-generating features that construction estimating software provides. The software creates clean, professional-looking proposals for bids and calendars to communicate key stages to clients. In short, it is a communication tool that helps contractors communicate job tasks to subcontractors as well as bigger picture progress to their clients.
What Does Construction Estimating Software Cost?
Construction estimating software is often priced to begin at $49 per month among the least expensive options. Be careful to ask how long that rate will last; some companies grab your attention with a $49 monthly rate only to raise the price by $200 or more per month after a two- or three-month introductory period.
On the higher end, feature-rich programs with a CRM, robust materials cost database, 2D and 3D building information management (BIM) tools for quicker take-offs, with multiple software integrations can cost between $3,500 and $5,000 annually.
How We Chose the Best Construction Estimating Software
After reviewing 20 construction estimating software programs, we found seven that are ideal for certain construction business needs. To make it to our shortlist, the software had to offer a lot of features for the money, preferably integrate with other programs contractors typically rely on, and be easy to use with enough online support and training to get you up to speed quickly.
We called out software that was a particularly good match for certain business sizes and, most importantly, we chose companies that had stellar customer testimonials and won quality awards from software evaluators.
Cornell University, arXiv.org, "What we don't know about spreadsheet errors today."
Accessed Jan. 7, 2021.