Construction estimating is one of the most important parts when landing a construction project. Bid too high and you lose money, but bid too low and you lose the job. From equipment to crew members, construction estimates are one of the more complicated cost aspects to consider. This is where construction project management software can help make your forecast as accurate as possible.
Making the decision to invest in construction estimating software is the easy part. The market, however, is saturated with products. The hardest part is understanding which tool is right for you—one that can accurately estimate and carry you through the project, monitoring costs to keep you on budget. Let’s take a closer look at the top five construction estimate software products available to help you make your decision.
What Is Construction Estimating?
Construction estimating is how builders forecast the costs related to erecting a structure. The process begins at the start of the project and can extend through the concept and design stages. However, the construction estimation process must be completed by the time the final construction project management plan document is delivered.
The general contractor is usually the party responsible for estimating the cost of the construction project. The costs of materials and labor aren’t the only ones included; a dollar value must also be assigned to risk such as requirements, change orders and more. In general, construction estimates are broken into two categories: hard or direct costs (materials, labor, equipment, fees, etc.) and soft or indirect costs (architectural and engineering fees, legal fees, permits, taxes, etc.).
Must-Have Construction Estimating Software Features
When you’re looking for construction estimating software, you’ll want one that’s cloud-based to provide you with real-time data to better monitor and track costs through the project’s execution. This allows you to work in the office, on-site or even at home. Cloud-based software also connects everyone on the team and allows for real-time file sharing and commenting.
You’ll also need a robust Gantt chart, a planning tool that works like a spreadsheet with a visual timeline to see your entire project. This tool allows you to manage costs for all tasks, including human and nonhuman resources. As statuses update, the online Gantt will automatically update your product costs to help you keep to your budget.
It’s important that whatever the features, the software is flexible and allows users to work how they want, whether that’s on a Gantt chart, task list, calendar, spreadsheet or kanban board. There need to be reporting tools to help you keep an eye on costs during the execution of the project and a dashboard offering a high-level view, so you can catch and correct any issues before they become problems.
2023 Best Construction Estimating Software Rankings
We’ve only just scratched the surface of construction estimating, but it’s clear that keeping track of so many variables is more than a traditional spreadsheet can support. If you’re still trying to estimate construction costs in Excel, you’ll love the ease, speed and accuracy of construction estimating software.
The following are some of the top names in construction project management. We explored them all, including how much they cost, whether they have a free version and if they have a mobile app. Apps are important as construction work is done in the field and construction estimating software allows you to take your work with you.
ProjectManager is cloud-based work and project management software that helps create and organize all costs associated with construction projects. It offers multiple project views to easily share budgets with cross-functional teams and connects the crew in real time to foster collaboration whether they’re on-site or in the office. It tops our list of construction estimate software due to its ease of use and powerful features for planning, tracking and reporting. It’s a full-service software that helps you stick to your budget with secure timesheets and offers resource and task management features to prevent overspending.
Create Your Budget on Interactive Gantt Charts
ProjectManager calculates resource costs automatically when you plan your crew’s hours. The planned resource costs and nonhuman resource costs automatically appear on the Gantt chart where users can filter for the critical path and set a baseline to track planned costs against actual costs. This real-time data access helps keep you on budget.
Keep Track of Costs With Real-Time Dashboards and Reports
When you set a baseline, you can monitor costs on the Gantt as well as real-time dashboards that provide a high-level view of progress and performance. Unlike other construction estimate software, ProjectManager’s dashboard requires no setup and delivers real-time cost metrics. For a deeper dive into the data, generate and filter reports with a keystroke and easily share them with stakeholders. The powerful reporting features for this construction estimating software are undoubtedly leading the pack.
Manage Your Teams Workload and Track Time Spent on Tasks
Keeping your crew working at capacity is another way to ensure you’re staying on the estimated budget that you established in the construction project’s planning phase. ProjectManager’s resource management features manage your resource costs and your workload to keep crews balanced and productive. You can keep track of your crew and their material’s availability, skillset, cost and allocation in real time to keep your project from overspending.
ProjectManager is not only the premier construction estimating software but it exceeds in scheduling, payroll and every other aspect of the project you need to manage to stay on schedule and keep to your budget. Get started today for free.
- Starter plan: $0 user/month
- Team plan: $11.50 user/month
- Business plan: $20.50 user/month
- Enterprise: contact sales
- Does ProjectManager offer a free trial? Yes, ProjectManager has a 30-day free trial
- Does ProjectManager offer a free version? Yes, ProjectManager offers a free plan
- Does ProjectManager have a mobile app? Yes, it’s available for Android and iOS
Procore is construction management software used by companies to manage all phases of their projects. It integrates with third-party financial software such as Saleforce and offers accurate and efficient bidding. If that bid is awarded, it can be integrated into project management features to plan and execute the project.
There are features that help organize construction drawings as well as request for information (RFI), request for quote (RFQ) and change events. This software rises to the near top of the list due vastly to customers responding so positively to the company’s focus on customer care.
That said, as sophisticated as the software is, it’s also complex and difficult to use from a user perspective. It’s suitable for larger projects but it’s not as cost-effective if you’re working in smaller enterprises. There’s also no on-premise deployment that may not be ideal for smaller teams.
- Procore requires a custom quote
- Does Procore offer a free trial? No, Procore does not offer a free trial
- Does Procore offer a free version? No, there is no free version
- Does Procore have a mobile app? Yes, it’s available for Android and iOS
CoConstruct is software used to manage everything from custom home-builders t0 remodelers. It has features to manage financials and clients, syncing data from estimates as well as specifications. The software bids and budgets with third-party tools such as QuickBooks.
Estimates can be completed with the software’s single entry financial management system that creates sheets, proposals, budgets, bid requests and purchase orders. All of these facets can be updated for change orders. This software offers preexisting templates that can be customized which makes it easy to start a project.
There are many features which is both good and bad. The software can feel overwhelming and the UI feels outdated. Customers have complained at the high price tag and the pricing model itself can be frustrating. CoConstruct offers a cheaper rate for two months before it increases in price, but it can take teams this long to simply onboard and kick off a project.
- Standard plan: Starts at $99/month and then increases to $299/month after 2 months
- Plus plan: Starts at $200/month and then increases to $299/month after 3 months
- Does CoConstruct offer a free trial? No, there isn’t a free trial
- Does CoConstruct offer a free version? No, there is no free version
- Does CoConstruct have a mobile app? Yes, it’s available for Android and iOS
e-Builder is cloud-based construction software with a suite of features that cover everything from arranging, planning, acquisition, development and operations of construction projects. The software is known for its budget planning and document organization. Users will appreciate its audit and budgetary oversight, allowing you to oversee your budget planning for one project or across your portfolio.
What many customers complain about is the hefty price tag associated with e-Builder, especially as it can feel like a superior file organizer. Its scheduling features aren’t flexible and can pose an issue. There’s also a steep learning curve that loses some users before they see the software’s full potential.
- e-Builder requires a custom quote
- Does e-Builder offer a free trial? No, e-Builder does not offer a free trial
- Does e-Builder offer a free version? No, there is no free version
- Does e-Builder have a mobile app? Yes, it’s available for Android and iOS
Smartsheet is unique in that its construction estimating software that mimics Microsoft Excel with its powerful spreadsheets. Because of that familiarity, most users find it easy to use for construction project management.
Another aspect of the software that’s praised by users is that it’s very customizable and powerful and it also supports automation. In terms of construction estimating, it offers tools to help build a detailed cost estimation template and is easy to share with stakeholders.
However, if you want to track time, use the software for budgeting or resource management, you’re going to have to deal with added fees. The pages also don’t update in real time, which is going to make keeping to your budget more difficult than with any other software review in this roundup.
- Pro plan: $7 user/month
- Business plan: $25 user/month
- Does Smartsheet offer a free trial? Yes, Smartsheet has a 30-day free trial
- Does Smartsheet offer a free version? No, Smartsheet doesn’t offer a free plan
- Does Smartsheet have a mobile app? Yes, it’s available for Android and iOS.
ProjectManager is cloud-based work and project management software that connects hybrid teams and boosts productivity. It is used in industries from construction to IT and manufacturing to professional services. Get started with ProjectManager today for free.