Best Contractor Estimate Book and Software: Streamline Your Project Bidding Process

Contractors must create accurate estimates to win bids and complete projects within budget. The right contractor estimate book or software can help streamline the process and increase accuracy. Knowing which options are the best can be difficult with so many options available.

Contractor estimate book on wooden table with candle and inkwell.

When choosing a contractor estimate book or software, it’s important to consider factors such as ease of use, customization options, and compatibility with other software programs. Some of the best options on the market include Buildxact, PlanSwift by ConstructConnect, and QuickBooks Online Plus/Advanced. Buildxact is a comprehensive solution offering job scheduling, invoicing, and project management features. PlanSwift by ConstructConnect is a great choice for tradesmen and offers customizable work-breakdown structures and standardized estimate templates. QuickBooks Online Plus/Advanced is ideal for on-location estimating and invoicing and allows for direct payments from electronic invoices.

Contractors should carefully evaluate their needs and consider each option’s features and benefits before deciding. With the right contractor estimate book or software, contractors can save time, increase accuracy, and ultimately improve their bottom line.

Essentials of Contractor Estimate Book and Software

Contractor estimate books and software are essential for construction professionals to determine a project’s cost accurately. These tools help contractors create accurate project estimates, which are critical to the success of any construction project. This section will discuss the key features of the best contractor estimate books and software and the benefits of integrating estimation with project management.

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Best Contractor Estimate Books

Contractor estimate books are essential tools for contractors to create accurate project estimates. The best contractor estimate books are designed to be easy to use, accurate, and customizable. They should include cost estimating, labor and material calculations, overhead and profit calculations, and project planning and scheduling.

Some of the best contractor estimate books available today include the Craftsman National Construction Estimator, the RSMeans Building Construction Cost Data, and the BNi Building News Cost. These books are widely used by contractors and are known for their accuracy and ease of use.

Top 3 Contractor Estimate Books

Several top brands stand out in the market for contractor estimator books. This article will discuss the top three brands and choose the best based on their features, reliability, and user reviews.

RSMeans Cost Data Books

RSMeans is a well-known and trusted brand in the construction industry. Their cost data books cover various construction sectors, including residential, commercial, and industrial projects. These books provide accurate and up-to-date cost information for materials, labor, and equipment, making it easier for contractors to create precise estimates.

Key features:

  • Comprehensive cost data for various construction sectors
  • Updated annually to ensure accuracy
  • Available in print and digital formats
  • Includes city cost indexes for adjusting prices based on location

BNi Building News Cost Books

BNi Building News is another reputable brand that offers cost estimating books for contractors. Their books cover various construction trades, such as electrical, plumbing, and mechanical. BNi’s cost books are known for their detailed breakdowns and easy-to-use format, making them a popular choice among contractors.

Key features:

  • Detailed cost breakdowns for various construction trades
  • Includes material, labor, and equipment costs
  • Available in print and digital formats
  • Provides regional cost adjustments for different areas

Craftsman Book Company Estimator’s Books

Craftsman Book Company is a respected publisher of construction-related books, including estimator’s books for contractors. Their books cover construction specialties, from carpentry and masonry to electrical and plumbing work. Craftsman’s Estimator books are known for their accuracy, clarity, and user-friendly layout.

Key features:

  • Covers a wide range of construction specialties
  • Provides detailed cost breakdowns for materials, labor, and equipment
  • Includes helpful illustrations and diagrams
  • Available in print and digital formats

Top Pick: RSMeans Cost Data Books

Home renovation plans concept with worker reading a contractor estimate book.

After considering these three brands’ features and user reviews, our top pick for contractor estimator books is RSMeans Cost Data Books. Here’s why:

  1. Comprehensive coverage: RSMeans offers the most comprehensive cost data, covering various construction sectors and project types. This makes it a versatile choice for contractors working on various projects.
  2. Industry recognition: RSMeans is the gold standard in construction cost estimating. Many professionals and organizations rely on their data for accurate pricing and budgeting.
  3. Annual updates: RSMeans updates their cost data books annually, ensuring contractors can access the most current and accurate pricing information.
  4. User-friendly format: RSMeans books are well-organized and easy to navigate, making it simple for contractors to find the information they need quickly.
  5. Digital access: In addition to print books, RSMeans offers digital formats, including online access and integration with estimating software, which provides contractors with more flexibility and convenience.

While all three brands offer valuable resources for contractors, RSMeans Cost Data Books stand out for their comprehensive coverage, industry recognition, and commitment to providing accurate and up-to-date cost information. By choosing RSMeans, contractors can feel confident in creating precise estimates and making informed decisions throughout the construction process.

Key Features of Top Estimating Software

The best estimating software is designed to be accurate, functional, and user-friendly. It should include features such as cost estimating, project management, integration with other software, and customization. The software should also be scalable so that it can grow with the contractor’s needs.

Some top estimating software available today include QuickBooks Online Plus, PlanSwift, and B2W Estimate. These software packages are known for their accuracy, functionality, and ease of use.

Integrating Estimation with Project Management

Integrating estimation with project management is essential for the success of any construction project. By integrating estimation with project management, contractors can create accurate project estimates, manage budgets, schedule tasks, and track progress. This ensures that the project is completed on time and within budget.

Some of the best project management software available today include Procore, CoConstruct, and Buildertrend. These software packages are designed to be user-friendly and customizable and integrate seamlessly with estimating software.

Understanding Construction Estimating

Construction estimating is the process of determining the cost of a construction project. It involves calculating the cost of labor, materials, overhead, and profit. Accurate estimating is essential for the success of any construction project, as it ensures that the project is completed on time and within budget.

The estimating process can be complex and time-consuming, but contractors can create accurate estimates quickly and easily with the right tools and software. By understanding the construction estimating process and using the best contractor estimate books and software, contractors can create accurate project estimates, manage budgets, schedule tasks, and track progress, ensuring the success of their construction projects.

Software Solutions for Efficient Estimating

A contractor's estimate book and software displayed on a desk with a ruler, pencil, and computer

Efficient estimating is a crucial part of any construction project. It helps contractors to accurately calculate the cost of materials and labor required for a project, which in turn helps them to create realistic bids and budgets. While traditional estimate books are still in use, many contractors now use software solutions for more efficient and accurate estimating.

Top 3 Contractor Estimate Software

When it comes to contractor estimate software, several top brands offer powerful and user-friendly solutions. In this article, we’ll discuss the top three brands and choose the best one based on its features, ease of use, and customer satisfaction.

Jobber Estimate Software

Jobber is a well-known name in the field of service management software. Their estimate software is designed to simplify the estimating process for contractors, allowing them to create professional-looking estimates quickly and easily.

Key features:

  • Customizable estimate templates for a professional look and feel
  • Ability to add photos and line items for clear communication with clients
  • Mobile app for creating and sending estimates on the go
  • Integration with Jobber’s scheduling and invoicing tools for seamless workflow
  • Client portal for easy estimate approval and communication

QuickBooks Online Contractor Estimate Software

QuickBooks Online, a popular accounting software, offers a contractor-specific version that includes estimate creation tools. This all-in-one solution allows contractors to manage their finances and create estimates in one place.

Key features:

  • Customizable estimate templates that match your branding
  • Ability to create and send estimates directly from QuickBooks Online
  • Integration with QuickBooks’ accounting features for easy financial management
  • Mobile app for creating and managing estimates on the go
  • Option to convert estimates to invoices with just a few clicks

Buildertrend Estimate Software

Buildertrend is a comprehensive construction management software that includes a robust estimating tool. It offers a wide range of features designed specifically for contractors and construction professionals.

Key features:

  • Customizable estimate templates for a professional presentation
  • Ability to create detailed cost breakdowns and profit margins
  • Integration with Buildertrend’s project management and scheduling tools
  • Client portal for easy estimate approval and communication
  • Change order management for handling project updates and revisions

Top Pick: Jobber Estimate Software

Computer screen exploding with dollar sign and financial symbols for contractor estimate software.

After considering these three brands’ features, ease of use, and customer satisfaction, our top pick for contractor estimate software is Jobber Estimate Software. Here’s why:

  1. User-friendly interface: Jobber’s estimate software is designed with simplicity, making it easy for contractors to create and manage estimates without a steep learning curve.
  2. Mobile app: Jobber’s mobile app allows contractors to create, send, and manage estimates from anywhere, at any time. This flexibility is crucial for contractors who are always on the move.
  3. Seamless integration: Jobber Estimate Software integrates seamlessly with Jobber’s scheduling and invoicing tools, creating a smooth workflow that saves time and reduces errors.
  4. Client communication: Jobber’s client portal makes it easy for clients to view, approve, and comment on estimates, streamlining communication and reducing back-and-forth emails.
  5. Positive user reviews: Jobber consistently receives high praise from users who appreciate its ease of use, comprehensive features, and excellent customer support.

While all three brands offer strong estimating solutions, Jobber Estimate Software stands out for its user-friendly interface, mobile app, seamless integration with other tools, and excellent client communication features. By choosing Jobber, contractors can streamline their estimating process, save time, and create a more professional image for their business.

Enhancing Productivity with Advanced Tools

Construction estimating software systems come with a range of advanced tools that can help contractors enhance their productivity. For example, some systems offer digital takeoff tools that allow contractors to quickly and accurately measure a project’s dimensions. Others offer Gantt charts and timesheets that help contractors manage their projects more efficiently.

Specialized Software for Different Construction Disciplines

While many construction estimating software systems are designed to be used across different construction disciplines, many industry-specific systems are also available. For example, specialized software systems for residential, HVAC, plumbing, electrical estimating, and heavy civil construction exist. These systems are designed to meet the unique needs of each discipline, and can help contractors to create more accurate estimates.

In addition to industry-specific software systems, many templates and proposals are available for different types of construction projects. These templates and proposals can help contractors create professional-looking estimates quickly and easily.

Overall, construction estimating software systems are excellent for contractors who want to create more accurate and efficient estimates. By choosing the right software system and using its advanced tools, contractors can save time, reduce errors, and create more competitive bids.

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Contractor Estimate Book Frequently Asked Questions

What are the key features to look for in high-quality estimating software for contractors?

High-quality estimating software for contractors should have a user-friendly interface, accurate cost estimating, and project management tools. It should also provide real-time collaboration, customizable templates, and integration with other software tools.

Can you recommend any free construction estimating software that is reliable for professional use?

While some free construction estimating software options are available, they may not offer the same level of accuracy or features as paid options. However, some reliable free options include PlanSwift, Estimator 2.0, and OpenProj.

How does ProEst estimating software compare to other leading options in the market?

ProEst is a popular construction estimating software that offers advanced features such as digital takeoffs, cost databases, and bid management tools. It is comparable to other leading options in the market such as PlanSwift, STACK, and Sage Estimating.

What are the top-rated construction estimating software applications for small businesses?

Some top-rated construction estimating software applications for small businesses include Buildertrend, CoConstruct, and QuickBooks. These software tools offer project management, cost estimating, and invoicing features.

Are there any comprehensive books on contractor estimating that are considered industry standards?

Yes, several comprehensive books on contractor estimating are considered industry standards. Some of these books include “RSMeans Building Construction Cost Data,” “Construction Estimating Reference Data,” and “Estimating in Building Construction” by Frank R. Dagostino.

What advancements have been made in contractor estimate software since 2020?

Since 2020, contractor estimate software has seen advancements in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and cloud-based computing. These advancements have led to more accurate cost estimating, improved collaboration, and streamlined project management.

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