For large projects, a simple notepad and pen are not sufficient to provide accurate and timely cost estimates to clients. The good news is that there are some pretty good estimating software programs now available that do the job. Both residential and commercial contractors can save time, money, and win more bids by providing professional job estimates. These programs also offer the ability to manage projects, bill clients, and keep track of change orders. They feature a wide range of options for any size of contractor.
TurboBid Estimating Software
TurboBid is one of the most well received and fully featured estimating programs on the market. It contains a user-friendly graphical interface and offers training courses through their website. The software can connect to national and local material supplier databases to keep pricing updated throughout the bidding process.
Change orders and revisions are simple. The software will generate automatic reports and professional presentations for clients. It also allows fine adjustment of man-hour estimations in different locations of the building. This includes ceilings. The program can account for different worker skill levels and upcoming wage increases for longer projects.
The built-in database includes tens of thousands of parts and full assemblies to allow for quick and easy estimation. The program incorporates national and local electrical code requirements to ensure bids are code compliant. In addition, it has a value engineering feature that suggests code-compliant changes to the customer’s blueprints. This can ultimately save money by adding, removing, or relocating devices.
AccuBid Estimating Software
Made by Trimble MEP, AccuBid is a spreadsheet-based suite of programs that have led the market for years. There are currently four tiers of programs:
- PowerBid, an entry-level program for small projects
- Accubid Classic Pro for large commercial, industrial or multi-unit buildings
- Autobid Mechanical for plumbing contractors, commercial mechanical and piping
- Autobid Sheet Metal for HVAC and sheet metal estimators
Their top tier program is a fully featured estimating software program with a large database of materials and assemblies. The AccuBid suite of software also includes AccudBid ChangeOrder for managing project changes in real time. This one is chocked full of helpful features such as Time and Material Billing for easily tracking and billing clients. ConstructJob is a centralized web-based program that facilitates project management and the transfer of data between other programs. It includes email functionality to quickly send quotes and project updates to clients and suppliers. While the interface may not be as user-friendly as others, its versatility and long history in the industry are invaluable.
Electrical Bid Manager
Vision InfoSoft’s Electrical Bid Manager can handle anything from small projects to multi-million dollar installations. The unique feature of this program is its massive database of parts and materials known as EPIC. The database lists over 2 million items from more than 100 manufacturer catalogs. This allows the user to find the best prices on materials easily. Consequently, it offers the ability to create custom assemblies of parts and value engineering capabilities. The software includes functionality to transfer data to QuickBooks for accounting. However, EBM does not include built-in project management or client billing features.
McCormick Estimating Software
McCormick Systems’ range of software includes options for electrical, plumbing, high voltage transmission, and building automation. They also feature an on-screen interface that allows for easy selection of take-off lists directly from drawings or from CAD prints. A multi-window system lets the user select and manage take-off lists while using column labels to quickly pull up all relevant parts and assemblies. This program integrates with a variety of accounting software and is available in four tiers to allow a contractor to select the version tailored to their business.
For any residential or commercial contractor looking for estimating software, personal preference is just as important as the features of the program. Most companies offer free trials so be sure to try before you buy.