The Top 10 Free and Open Source Construction Estimating Software
When it comes to construction projects, each building is different, and this applies to even similar-looking buildings. Every construction project requires a separate cost estimation, which is quite different from manufacturing products where similar products have the same production cost. Underestimating or overestimating the cost of a construction project can be highly detrimental. Thus, accuracy in cost estimation is the key to the success of a construction project.
Though uncertainty is always there when it comes to estimating the cost of a construction project, experienced professionals aided with the right construction estimating software can definitely help in improving accuracy in this job. Accurate cost estimation can help you in making better decisions and the ultimate success of your business.
Here, we have come up with the top 10 free and open-source construction estimating software, which you can deploy to gain accurate estimation for your construction projects. But, before you go through the details of these construction estimating tools, let us have a look at what exactly is construction estimation software, how does it work, why should you use it, and the features to look for in one to gain maximum benefits out of it.
What is Construction Estimating Software?
Construction estimation software is a tool that helps business owners, contractors, architects, engineers, and other professionals within the construction industry to prepare cost estimates to determine the labor & material expenses, overheads, and profit goals. It helps in checking the feasibility of the construction project, getting a basic idea about how much would be the total cost of the project, and ultimately deciding whether to go ahead with the project or not.
Construction estimating software is a system that can streamline and automate the process of calculating a construction project's total expenditures. It automates the processes and formulations based on the information and data fetched from the database or spreadsheets. The use of construction estimating software can help in improving accuracy, speed, and productivity, which ultimately results in increased profitability of a construction business.
Obsolete Methods of Estimating the Cost of Construction Projects
Many building contractors and construction business owners still rely on manual registers or excel spreadsheets. These manual methods of estimating the cost of a construction project are perceived to be simple to master but fail to provide speed and accuracy. Data entry is prone to errors and highly time-consuming. It is quite common to find mistakes and regret when the project is about to complete as at that stage, nothing can be rectified to recover the loss. Moreover, when it comes to sharing information and collaborating with the team, these manual methods can provide restricted facilities.
Pricing a construction project should not be based on guesswork, inaccurate data, or some other project's figures. Especially if the construction project is huge, it requires a significant amount of investment. In that case, if your cost estimation is wrong, you end up wasting your hard-earned money and efforts.
Thus, in this highly-competitive business era, it becomes essential to adopt the best construction estimation solution. The below-mentioned benefits can tell you why -
Benefits of Using Construction Estimating Software
So, these were the benefits of deploying construction estimating software. If you are looking for one, it becomes necessary to know the basic components of a construction estimating software.
Basic Components of a Construction Estimating Software
Besides these components, you also need to look out for must-have features in a construction estimation solution, as mentioned below -
Must-Have Features of a Construction Estimating Software
The cost estimating functionality in a construction estimation software helps users to save time and achieve accuracy in calculating the overall cost of a construction project. The automated calculations save a lot of time of the contractors and construction cost estimators otherwise wasted in data entry, manually calculating sundry costs and profit margins.
The cost database feature in a construction estimating software helps you in creating the database of regularly used materials, which you can quickly use in your estimate calculations. Automatically pulling out the cost information of the items can eliminate human errors in the calculations and provide accurate results.
The proposal generator helps you in preparing the client proposals that provide complete information about the cost codes, material quantity, unit costs, and calculations. You can customize these proposals that align with your brand identity, print them, and share them online with the client or other team members.
Takeoff functionality helps you in digitally measuring the construction site and calculating the quantity of material required. For example, the user can use takeoff functionality to calculate the number of tiles required on a floor and then cost estimated based on that calculation.
Reporting is one of the essential features which represents the data showing cost analysis in the form of graphs and charts. It gives a better understanding of how much was spent in each construction project, profit & loss, thus helping you to make better decisions for your future projects.
The contractors and business owners can manage their cash flow, track payment invoices like equipment bills, material cost, labor charges, etc.using the accounting functionality in-built in a construction estimating software.
Now, when you know the benefits, components and features to look for, let us have a look at the details of the top 10 free and open source construction estimating tools with a comparison chart helping you to select one as per your business processes & standards.
The Top 10 Free and Open Source Construction Estimating Software Comparison Chart
The Top 10 Free and Open Source Construction Estimating Software
Estimate is a free and open source construction estimating software. It is a fast, accurate, and intelligent solution built for small to large enterprises. It has been released under GNU Affero General Public License and is a community-supported project. Its source code is freely available, and so the companies can customize the application as per their business logic and add new features as per their requirements.
- Ability to maintain Assemblies and Bill of Material (BOM)
- Can maintain multiple costing standards
- Ability to manage suppliers and clients database
- Can generate Bill of Quantity, and extensive cost sheets with breakups
- Can analyze subcontractor and vendor quotes
- Can upload and archive documents for quick reference
- Web-based interface compatible with all the browsers
- Includes simple to use interface
- Includes centralized database for easy backup and maintenance
If you have already used Estimate, please feel free to share your reviews here.
CatalystK is an open source and free construction estimating software that can estimate quotations for all construction projects accurately. It can help you in calculating all types of work estimation like material cost, labor cost, job scheduling, budget planning, etc., quickly and easily. CatalystK also helps in executing all the necessary plans like cost estimation, work tracking, monitoring the work done, etc. It's capacity for integration and creating quotations help businesses to provide a precise estimation of the construction project requirements.
- Can create customized quotations with images
- Allows you to email quotations
- Can create sales orders
- Allows leads and task management
- Includes automated sales order invoice mailing system
- Can generate reports helping to make informed decisions
If you have already used CatalystK, please feel free to share your reviews here.
Stack is an all-in-one free construction estimating software designed for an excellent pre-construction process. It helps in driving maximum efficiency and improving project profitability by streamlining team collaboration, quantity & material takeoff, and project reporting. It works as a centralized hub for construction takeoff and accurate estimations. Whether you are a subcontractor looking to bid and win profitable construction projects or a general contractor looking for flexible takeoff tools, or a supplier requiring to keep customers updated with the material they need, this free construction estimating software can help.
- Helps in organizing plan specifications, and important documents
- Allows accessing documents, project plans, reports, etc., from anywhere
- Increases speed and eliminates mistakes in construction estimating and takeoffs
- Provides in-depth reporting for each task and project, helping to analyze important details
- Keeps team members, contractors, business owners, and stakeholders on the same page of ongoing and upcoming construction projects
If you have already used Stack, please feel free to share your reviews here.
Methvin is an intuitive and user-friendly online construction estimating and procurement software. It helps in estimating projects, publishing tenders, and creating a comparison which can help businesses in grabbing potential business opportunities. It automates the entire process of pre-construction planning accurately, thus making your workflow smooth and seamless.
- Provides fast and accurate takeoffs for any construction plan
- Enables real-time collaboration
- Includes integration capabilities providing extra functionality
- Provides simple and complex estimation with a worksheet
- Includes Gantt scheduler
- Make collaboration easier between the contractor and the client
If you have already used Methvin, please feel free to share your reviews here.
ClearEstimates is an easy to use construction estimating software. It includes powerful templates that allow you to get complete estimates within seconds. It also helps in creating professional proposals with your brand identity. ClearEstimates can easily integrate with CRMs and email marketing tools to provide extra functionality. It can have multiple users and allows for easy collaboration. You can try it for free for 1 month and know whether it suits your business or not before purchasing it.
- Can create accurate estimates in minutes
- Includes pre-loaded data including material and labor costs
- Includes 60 estimation templates which can be customized as per the project requirement
- Helps in creating professional proposals with brand identity
If you have already used ClearEstimates, please feel free to share your reviews here.
EZ Construction Estimator can help you in creating estimates for building contractors seamlessly. It has a simple drag & drop interface, which allows you to build estimates in just a few mouse clicks. Many general contractors, roofers, remodeling experts, and painting contractors use this software to get profitable and accurate estimates. You can try using this software free for 30 days to determine whether it suits your requirements or not.
- Includes database of over 2000 components and assemblies
- Allows you to attach pictures and blueprints in estimates
- Suits to new construction estimating or remodeling bidding
- Helps in creating documents for the scope of work for insurance restoration claims
- Helps in automatically calculating the floor area, wall areas, and wall lengths
- Allows you to break down estimates in small areas
- Generates reports to help in making informed decisions for the future
If you have already used EZ Construction Estimator, please feel free to share your reviews here.
PriMus is the complete construction estimation solution for accurate planning and controlling costs. It is used by project designers, site managers, and construction companies for simplifying collaboration, coordination, and data exchange. This construction estimation software is highly secure with flexibility and convenience at the same time. You can try it for free for 30 days to know whether it suits your business requirements or not.
- Includes extensive construction cost estimation database
- Helps in optimizing work execution costs
- Allows you to obtain fast and accurate construction cost estimates
- Allows extracting accurate metric data directly from the project’s BIM model
- Helps in recording daily site reports easily even from mobile devices
If you have already used PriMus, please feel free to share your reviews here.
iScope is a loss estimating software designed by a public insurance adjuster for accurately estimating losses pertaining to the construction industry. It has a quick and powerful interface with an integrated pricing database. It suits the unique needs of contractors, appraisers, public insurance adjusters, and others involved in estimating losses. As it offers a 30 days free trial, you can use it before purchasing to know whether it suits your type of business or not.
- Includes user-friendly controls
- Has built-in room lists with standard measurements
- Includes customizable policyholder acknowledgment clauses
- Can import pictures
- Has the ability to ad factoring to the entire estimate
- Can add task lists
- Includes powerful search features
If you have already used iScope, please feel free to share your reviews here.
eTakeoff Dimension is a complete electronic viewer and takeoff solution written using advanced database technology for speed and efficiency. It is a perfect solution for estimators across all construction disciplines. It can help you in preparing takeoffs in any file format quickly to improve performance. Whether it is a single page TIF file or a 200 page PDF file with lots of images, the construction estimation is created quickly and accurately.
- Includes simple measurement capabilities
- Allows you to share takeoff details, annotations, and issues with project managers and other team members
- Facilitates advanced measuring and scaling in a construction plan
- Allows you to flip/rotate measurements
- Can prepare a list of all measurements used in a project
- Can annotate drawings with text, lines, shapes, clouds, arrows, etc.
- Includes FTP integration to present construction estimation in the form of a website
- Allows comparing two drawings. For example, comparing two different floors in a construction plan
If you have already used eTakeoffDimension, please feel free to share your reviews here.
#10 BidScreen XL
Takeoffs are a breeze with the help of BidScreen XL. Using this software, you can measure and identify the areas, counts, and lengths from your digital drawing files with just a click on a spreadsheet cell. The takeoff drawings with measurements are saved as an Excel workbook, which can be edited and printed whenever required. Estimating takeoff excel template files are readily available for all types of construction projects so that it becomes easy and quick to prepare estimates and share them.
- Helps in measuring on-screen from PDF, DWG, DXF, TIF, and other file types
- Provides new excel ribbon user interface under Excel 2007 and Excel 2010
- Can work with vector files and get exact measurements by isolating layers and simply snapping to the object
- Allows you to work with actual drawing file with no file conversion required
- Can open multiple quantity takeoff files or multiple pages of a file quickly with a single click
- Can measure the cut and fill areas for each cross-section and deliver takeoff volumes from cross-sections
If you have already used BidScreen XL, please feel free to share your reviews here.
Now that you have gone through the details of these top 10 free and open source construction estimating software, it must have got easier for you to select the one suiting to your business. Still, if you didn't find exactly what you are looking for, just go through the details of one of the most popular construction estimation solution - ProEst.
ProEst is a cloud-based takeoff software that allows you to prepare construction estimating reports with confidence. Instead of spending more time in Excel, you can now focus on profit-driving initiatives with the help of this one of the best construction estimation solutions. Using this software, you get 24/7 access to your cost estimates, digital takeoffs, estimate reporting, client relationships, and much more. It has become the most used construction estimating software among general contractors and subcontractors due to the flexibility, speed, and accuracy it provides.
- Includes intuitive interface helping to create quick and accurate construction estimates
- All estimates are stored in a centralized location for quick access
- Helps in analyzing estimates based on the estimator, work, and department
- Allows users to provide a customized view of the important data
- Includes the ability to search and add new items within the estimates
- Provides an at-a-glance summary to know if the bid is on budget or not
- Provides built-in digital takeoffs helping to prepare estimates quickly
- Ability to create professional-looking reports quickly and easily
If you have already used ProEst, please feel free to share your reviews here.
The art of calculating the cost of a project is considered one of the toughest jobs of running a construction company. Whether you are a contractor, builder, or architect with a lot of experience or just a newbie, setting up the right price of a project is the basic requirement and, if not done accurately, can have an adverse impact on the profitability of your business.
To widen your options, we also recommend you to go through the freemium and paid construction estimating tools like Clear Estimates, PlanSwift, Viewpoint, Active Takeoff, ConstructionOnline, Rhumbix, BuildingConnected, Takeoff Live, CostX, and Elquoto App.
Also, go through the complete list of construction estimating software, compare their features, and reviews to select the best one for your business.
If you have used any of the construction estimation solutions mentioned above, please leave your valuable feedback here.
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