Construction estimating is becoming increasingly popular for builders, contractors and tradespersons. While the construction industry was initially slow to move towards digital developments, construction companies big and small have begun investing in construction estimating software to improve their business capabilities and profit margins.
Construction estimating software helps make the process of assessing the costs of a project easier and more reliable. It aids project management and gives construction professionals better insights into their project workflow. We know that traditional estimating practices can result in a higher risk of calculation errors, subsequent delays and unhappy clients. Reliable estimating software can help avoid these common pitfalls and ensure your projects are delivered on time and within budget.
The good news is that there are a wide range of highly rated estimating solutions tailored to the construction market here in Australia.
As a starting point, take some time to assess your business and identify your strengths and weaknesses. Are you a small, medium or large construction company? Or a sole trader? How many workers and/or contractors do you employ? What area(s) could be improved on? From here, you’ll be able to identify which type of software best suits your business needs.
Key things to look out for:
With many options in the market, deciding which construction estimate software best meets your business needs can be tricky. Here’s a list of important features to keep in mind:
Make sure that the software program you choose is compatible with the other programs you use. For example, if you use Microsoft Excel for data collection, choose an estimating software that allows you to integrate your information between the two programs with ease.
ConX Measure is an estimating tool developed by an Australian construction company ConX. The tool is completely online, with no need to download any expensive software. Users can simply upload their plans and start measuring on-screen in minutes. Customers subscribed to the team plan can collaborate on projects in real-time. An added benefit of ConX is the Tender Marketplace, where users of the estimating software get priority access to quote on jobs.
The product is intuitive, really simple to use and teaches you how to use the tools as you go. When you are finished measuring, you can export all of your measurements straight to an excel quoting template and download your marked-up plans to attach to your quote. ConX Measure is a great entry level solution for tradespeople or small construction companies looking to dip their toe into moving towards digital ways of working.
iTWO costX, formerly CostX, is a cloud based estimating software solution. It allows quick and accurate measurement from scanned, PDF and CAD drawings, as well as generation of automatic BIM quantities from 3D/BIM models.
Its applications include masonry, roofing, flooring, shop fitting, landscaping, structural steel just to name a few. The software allows users to measure lengths, counts and areas from CAD drawings and scanned documents.
A handy function is the rate library, which allows for a quick adjustment of rates across a major project, which will then adjust the whole cost of the project. The subcontractor analysis tool is also very useful for contractors to evaluate bids.
BlueBeam is widely popular due to its intelligent and user friendly software. It has a number of different user profiles that are tailored to showcase the various tools and functions. BlueBeam’s features are diverse meaning you can use it as an estimating takeoff tool, an estimating database, document control system and for cloud document storage.
Overall, BlueBeam is a great software option for large-scale detailed projects and is more-so tailored towards larger organisations.
CoConstruct is a household name in construction estimation software, providing some of the highest-rated custom building and remodelling software. They offer a wide range of features including scheduling, communication, client and subcontractor management, file management, change order tracking, construction project management, and warranty tracking.
Another benefit is that CoConstruct software allows you to streamline communication with your network and clients by offering email and text communication programs. Their software includes unlimited prospect and estimate projects, and comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee. If you're not happy with your service within that time frame, you can request a full refund.
STACK offers takeoff and estimating software solutions which aim to speed up your bid process through easy-to-use features. It also allows you to collaborate with your team in real-time from any location. Their biggest selling point is that they offer both free and paid plans. They also offer student discounts for junior tradespeople still at university.
STACK software is intuitive, user friendly and easy to manage.
CostOS is a cloud-based and on-premise solution which aims to increase productivity and accuracy by bringing all estimating tools together in one centralized and synchronized location. It is a great option for teams who are working remotely as it allows for real time collaboration.
The software allows multiple estimators to work on the same project at the same time from multiple locations. Key features include a cost database, bid management, customizable templates, subcontractor management and takeoff.
CostOS includes options for 2D takeoff, 3D BIM takeoff, GIS embedded takeoffs. They also have an Intelligent Assemblies Development Module which aims to reduce takeoff time by up to 50% and increase your estimating accuracy.
Planswift joined ConstructConnect in 2018 who are the market leader of construction data software in North America. It is designed for commercial and residential contractors and can be custom tailored to fit a wide scope of trade needs. Their software allows you to import digital blueprints so that you can mark up the plans and measure quantities with ease.
Key features include accounting integration, estimating, takeoff, audit trail, and custom templates. The main drawback is that their software is limited to Microsoft Windows and they currently don’t have cloud or SaaS capabilities.
Buildxact is another Australian software company designed for specialized builders and trade contractors. It’s a cloud based application and can be easily accessed from your computer, smartphone or tablet. What’s most popular about this software is the ability to carry out quick digital takeoffs based on a 3D model. It provides a quick and easy process to cost up, quote projects and invoice clients without needing to look at an external costing solution.
Cubit is used by a wide range of users in the construction industry including estimators, quantity surveyors, builders, contractors and subcontractors. Their main application features include 3-D takeoff, price lists, job analysis, reporting and auto-revisions. You can also integrate their software with your BIM system if required. They currently don’t offer a costing application but this can be easily set-up by linking an external application via API.
MeasureSquare is a cloud-based estimating and takeoff system built for commercial and residential contractors, designers, and takeoff estimators. The application allows you to share and work on projects with team members remotely.
A useful feature is their “drag and drop” approach for assigning product and service items. It's also possible for you to duplicate rooms and copy floor or wall designs. MeasureSquare is most popular among commercial and residential contractors, designers, and takeoff estimators.
At the end of the day, there are some great options for construction companies big and small here in Australia. What it really boils down when it comes to selecting the most suitable software is the size of the company and the volume of takeoffs you will be completing.
For smaller construction companies, ConX Measure is the most suitable as it’s an easy to use, inexpensive solution which removes the need to manually produce takeoffs by hand. Moving to a much larger company set-up if you have a large budget dedicated to an estimating software look into Cost X, BlueBeam and Cubit by Buildsoft. These programs are best for teams of estimators and quantity surveyors.
Find out how ConX Measure can help digitise your takeoffs, estimating, quoting & ordering process today.