Mastering the Art of Construction Estimating: A Beginner’s Guide to Understanding How Software Works

8 min read

So, you’ve heard of construction estimating software.

Top contractors are using it to create accurate estimates faster and prevent delays. Even some of your competitors have mastered the art of construction estimating with software.

Since you’re reading this, you likely want to try it too. But there’s one problem.

You don’t understand how the software works. How does a software automatically create construction estimates in minutes? Will the estimate really be accurate?

Not to worry! This beginner’s guide will answer your questions about how construction estimating software works.

And, by the time you finish reading, you’ll be able to use construction estimating software to generate construction estimates in a fraction of the time it usually takes you.

Let’s get started!

Construction Estimating Software Defined

Construction estimating software is an innovative tech that enables contractors to estimate the comprehensive cost of a construction project accurately and quickly.

It eliminates the challenges and errors associated with creating estimates manually. This ensures that construction projects are not underestimated, preventing delays and customer dissatisfaction.

Before we delve into the nitty-gritty of construction estimating software, let’s take a look at the key components of construction estimating.

Key Components of Construction Estimating

People often wonder if the software factor key components of construction estimating. And, the answer is yes. It factors all these key components to create accurate construction estimates.

  • Materials

Imagine a residential building construction estimate without plumbing or electrical fixtures. That project would be incomplete.

The materials estimate must include everything you need to complete your project, from bricks, wood and roofing sheets to nails, door handles, and wall sockets.

  • Equipment

Sure, many contractors and construction companies already have equipment. But, most don’t have all the equipment they need for every project.

So, construction estimates must include additional equipment that may need to be rented, such as excavators, cranes, lifts and even power tools and temporary lighting.

  • Labor cost

There’s no project execution without labor. Hence, construction estimates must include the cost of hiring professionals to work on the project, including sub-contractors.

Also, the number of professionals needed and how long they would work should be considered. For instance, hiring two electricians to wire a small building would take more time than hiring five.

  • Overhead cost

Overhead costs are indirect expenses that help ensure your project keeps running smoothly. This includes costs like permits and licenses, insurance, equipment maintenance, etc.

You don’t want your project halted because you didn’t get a permit. Or, lack funds to repair or fuel tools and equipment during construction.

  • Profit margin

Every contractor is in business to make a profit. So, the profit margin must be included in construction estimates.

Also, care must be taken not to set the margin too low to provide a buffer against unforeseen costs. And, it shouldn’t be too high to turn off customers.

Challenges of Manual Estimating & the Benefits of Construction Estimating Software

Construction estimating is more or less a game of prediction. It requires you to accurately predict the expenses of completing a project.

To do that, you must consider several factors, from the project size and location to the current market prices. And, if we’re being real, doing everything manually is daunting.

Let’s explore the challenges of manual estimating and how using construction estimating software helps.

- Takes too much time

If you’re an experienced contractor, you know the drill. Otherwise, picture yourself analyzing multiple spreadsheets and crunching numbers for hours on end.

And, that’s after combing through stacks of catalogs and surveying the market for prices from different suppliers.

Creating estimates manually is just time-consuming.

On the other hand, with construction estimation software, you can automate the entire process. All you have to do is input your project details, and an estimate will be generated in minutes.

- Prone to errors

With manual construction estimating, you’re one miscalculation away from an insufficient budget that would have your project delayed for months.

Sure, you may rely on your experience to determine the units of material you need. And, you may do your calculations carefully and double-check them.

But, even the most vigilant contractor can make a mistake, especially when doing calculations manually.

Using construction estimating software will streamline your data entry process to avoid missing data. And, calculations will be done automatically to eliminate human errors that can affect your project budget.

- Access to cost data is limited

Creating accurate construction estimates requires up-to-date construction cost data for materials, equipment, sub-contractors, etc.

When you’re doing it manually, your access to this data is limited to the couple of suppliers or connections you have on speed dial. And still, you won’t get the information you need immediately.

Construction estimating software leverage advanced algorithms to access multiple databases and provide you with real-time access to the data you need.

So, you can get the current cost of different items instantly. And, even compare prices from numerous suppliers, vendors or subcontractors to choose the best for your project.

- Incorporating changes is difficult

Say your customer downgrades or upgrades a part of the project. They’ve changed their mind about wanting a marble countertop and think quartz is just fine.

This means you’ll have to go through the stress of re-estimating to get the accurate cost of installing a quartz countertop. The nightmare!

But, if you’re using construction estimation software, you only need to note the the material change on the software, and you’ll have a re-calculated estimate in minutes.

- Communication is inefficient

“No, I wanted hardwood floors.” “You changed the pendant light to recessed lighting.”

When construction estimates are created manually, it’s easy to lose track of communication. Your customer may forget a conversation you had, or you may misplace a note about the changes they requested.

This won’t happen with construction estimating software.

Customers can share feedback about the estimates with you easily. They can even add and remove items on the estimates and see the real-time cost changes.

Essential Features of Construction Estimating Software

Construction estimating software are different. Some have more features and benefits than others. But, here are the essential features you should look out for when selecting a good software.

  • Calculate material quantity: A construction estimating software should have the ability to calculate the unit of materials or items you need based on the project information you provide.
  • Estimate cost fast: It should be able to automatically estimate the total cost of your project expenses. You should also have real-time access to an extensive cost database to ensure accurate pricing.
  • Create comprehensive reports: A good software should enable you to create comprehensive estimate reports that show a breakdown of all costs and other details relevant to the project.
  • Allows collaboration: It should make collaboration easier by allowing your customers and other stakeholders, such as architects and subcontractors, to have access and make changes to the estimate.
  • Integrates with other tools: You shouldn’t have to download and upload details from one tool to another. A good construction software integrates with other tools, such as CRM and accounting tools.

We may be biased, but we think CostCertified is the best software on the market. In addition to all of these features, our construction estimate software also:

  • Offers interactive estimate presentations that provide customers with a virtual shopping experience.
  • Allows you to upsell customers by offering optional items that they may choose to add to their project.
  • Has an in-built automated project management tool for managing schedules and tracking progress.
  • Enable you to collect payment online safely and eliminate the hassle of checks and bank deposits.

How CostCertified Construction Estimating Software Works

Now, let’s get into how construction estimating software works, step by step. Let’s say you’ve been contracted to remodel a kitchen. Here’s how CostCertified would help you create an accurate construction estimate.

Step #1: Enter your project details

The project details include the construction type and the construction items’ measurements or dimensions. To do this on CostCertified, you first choose an assembly or template.

In this example, you’d search for and select “kitchen.” Then, the estimation system would open for you to enter the kitchen dimensions, such as ceiling and floor area, interior wall perimeter, kitchen island dimensions, etc.

You may also exclude features/sections that your customer doesn’t need. For instance, you may remove the floor area if they don’t want the floor changed.

Step #2: Calculate cost estimate in real-time

Next, the construction estimating software would calculate the total cost estimate of all the items you need to complete the project.

With CostCertified, click “done” to save your project details. And it would generate the quantity of materials needed and calculate the costs using real-time pricing.

For instance, with the floor area dimensions entered, the software would generate all the line items needed for the flooring, such as the floor material, the underlayment, and the labor cost.

You can also enter other details like your profit margin, tax fee and discounts, and the total cost estimate will be calculated automatically.

Step #3: Share construction estimate with customers

After completing the estimate, you can then share it with your customers to review and make changes or approve it.

On CostCertified, you can preview the estimate and include your company logo before sending it to the customer’s email.

When the customer opens the estimate, they’d be taken to a virtual showroom where they can interact with the estimate in real time. This interactive platform would allow them to change/upgrade items themselves and see the price changes to the estimates immediately.

For instance, say the customer doesn’t want a basic kitchen cabinet; they may select a premium cabinet with decorative finishes. And when they do this, the new line item would be automatically added to the estimate, and the total price would change in real time.

Customers may also request revision and let you know the part of the estimate they want to be reviewed. And when they are satisfied, they can approve the estimate and proceed to make payment.

If you’d like to watch how this works, check out this video guide that shows how CostCertified helps you create construction estimates in minutes.

Get Started With CostCertified Construction Estimating Software

Now that you’ve learned how construction estimating software works, you can get started using one to create your estimates. And, of course, we recommend you choose CostCertified.

CostCertified is the fastest construction estimating software on the market. It creates accurate construction estimates in 7 minutes and gives customers a virtual shopping experience.

With this software, you can say goodbye to construction delays. No more spending hours creating estimates manually. No more errors that cause underestimation and customer dissatisfaction.

Whether your construction project is a small residential building or a skyscraper, you can create accurate construction estimates faster with software.

Ready to create accurate estimates with construction estimating software?

Request a demo to see how CostCertified will work for your business!

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