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Should Subcontractors Use Construction Estimating Software?

Subcontractors need to be able to get accurate, comprehensive bids out to general contractors as quickly as possible. Completing estimates by hand can be a difficult process, which is prone to human error and takes time and resources. In this article, we’ll discuss the advantages of using a construction cost estimating software for subcontractors. Many people mistakenly believe that construction cost estimating software is only advantageous for general contractors or larger firms. This couldn’t be further from the truth. We’ll break down the advantages that construction cost estimating software provides for subcontractors, regardless of the size and scope of their operations. Subcontractor software solutions have capabilities that range far beyond simply producing estimates. Understanding what these capabilities are and how they can be applied to your operations is crucial to figuring out if cost estimating software is right for you.

Quickly Place Bids

Subcontractors need to be able to submit bids quickly to general contractors if they hope to secure the project. The ability to more quickly produce accurate and profitable estimates is one of the most significant advantages of subcontractor estimating software. As we explore the range of features of cost estimating software, you’ll begin to see how this software can help subcontractors significantly reduce the amount of time it takes them to create an estimate.

Streamlined Estimate Process

Construction cost estimating software streamlines the entire process of creating an estimate. From gathering all of your information together into one place to allowing for the creation of digital takeoffs and material lists for vendors, construction cost estimating software functions as a centralized platform from which you can do everything you need related to estimates. By consolidating the data you need into one place, this ensures that you can quickly and easily access crucial data no matter where you are in the estimate process.

Cost estimating software is designed with functionality in mind. The user interface allows you to quickly assess key data, move from one phase of your estimate to your next seamlessly, and easily navigate through different types and formats of data. Users don’t have to be computer programming specialists to use cost estimation software. Rather, intuitive user interfaces and layouts allow users with moderate to basic computer skills to create robust and detailed estimates.

At-a-glance summaries enable you to quickly assess whether your bid is on-budget and profitable throughout. Construction cost estimating software also enables users to create customized views of their data. This allows the user to show only the data they need for where they are in the process of creating an estimate. At the same time, users can avoid the clutter of information that typically accompanies creating an estimate by hiding data that isn’t relevant.

Superior Organization

Construction cost estimating software offers much better organization functionality for subcontractors than doing cost estimating the old-fashioned way. First, construction cost estimating software eliminates the need to use multiple different databases to store your information by instead creating a centralized database. This is advantageous because you can pull data from that central database without ever leaving the software. You can also configure how that data is displayed in a way that makes the most sense to you. You can choose to customize data views based on what phase in an estimate you are working with, the type of building or project you are building an estimate for, or for different estimates themselves. The ability to change what data you see and how you see it facilitates producing top quality estimates in a short period of time. The ability to simultaneously keep multiple different estimates organizes separately in the same program is also a boon to subcontractors that are bidding on multiple projects.

Eliminate Guesswork

One of the ways that construction cost estimating software helps speed up the process of creating detailed estimates is by eliminating the guesswork involved. Estimates can be a messy business, particularly when done by hand. Estimators must juggle a variety of different data sources, use a multitude of formulas, and keep track of the minute details along every step of the way. Construction cost estimating software helps with this by integrating intuitive calculation functions that can dynamically update your total bid as you progress through the different phases of the process. Integrated markup functionality is an important aspect of this. Cost estimating software makes applying markups to your estimate easy, intuitive, and fast. This ensures that your bid will remain profitable.

Intelligent Markups

Construction estimating software for subcontractors incorporates the ability to intelligently apply markups throughout your estimate. As both subcontractors and general contractors know, markups are essential in order to maintain profitability over time. However, markups need to be applied in a way that doesn’t impact the overall success of securing the bid. With construction cost estimating software, subcontractors can flexibly apply markups to their bid. This enables subcontractors to apply markups in a way that allows them to take full advantage of their bid opportunities. The integrated ability to apply and adjust markups to your estimates quickly and easily enables subcontractors to secure more bids and increase their profits on each bid that they secure.

Digital Takeoffs

Creating a material takeoff is a time-consuming process. Takeoffs are an important part of an estimate because they list all of the raw materials that are required for a project. For material takeoffs, accuracy is incredibly important. Not only must estimators correctly account for an adequate amount of building materials, but they must also ensure that they don’t overestimate the material they will need to complete a project because this will impact their estimate. Complete accuracy on a takeoff isn’t realistic, but estimators want to get as close as possible to the actual number of materials they will require. At the same time, estimators must account for market fluctuations that may impact the price of the materials they will be using. This adds even more time to the process, as estimators must contact each vendor to get a quote for the materials for the project.

Construction cost estimating software like ProEst have the capability to produce a digital takeoff from your blueprints and data loaded into the program. This allows estimators to make a detailed and comprehensive takeoff directly from their blueprint, without having to do any calculations by hand. Digital takeoff capability can reduce the total time spent generating a takeoff by about half for most subcontractors. This allows subcontractors to spend much less time producing bids, and more time seeking out new projects. It should be noted that not all construction cost estimating software contains digital takeoff capability. Those software packages that do represent a leap forward in regards to the efficiency, accuracy, and speed associated with creating a material takeoff.

Integrated Reports

Construction cost estimating software for subcontractors helps maximize efficiency and reduce the time it takes to create estimates, but that’s not all that it does. Construction cost estimating software empowers subcontractors by integrating robust reporting functionality into the core program. Creating reports is a time-consuming process that requires a deft hand and skill in a variety of different programs. Subcontractors wishing to create reports must import their data into a reporting or spreadsheet program, organize their data, and present it in a way that makes the most sense to the person, group, or business that the report is intended for. The process of creating a report can cost a subcontractor a significant amount of time, particularly if the report is unique, complex, or requires a large amount of data to be imported.

The integrated reporting functionality addresses the shortcomings associated with generating reports in standalone software. Integrated reporting functionality is both faster and more accurate than standalone reports. Reports generated directly from your construction cost estimating software are more accurate because there are reduced opportunities for human error. Specifically, integrated reporting functionality draws information for your reports from the centralized database in your cost estimating software. This both speeds up the process of generating a report by eliminating the need to input the same data into two different programs, while also increasing accuracy by minimizing errors that result from data entry.

Drawing data from your centralized construction cost estimating software database also carries the advantage of giving access to multiple different types of data in one place. This allows subcontractors to generate multiple reports using different data, or generate a report using multiple different types of data. This gives subcontractors the ability to create more detailed and complex reports than they otherwise would be able to in many other programs commonly used for generating reports.

Integrated reporting functionality in construction cost estimating software also carries the added advantage of report templates. Report templates in construction cost estimating software allow the user to very quickly generate a report that is commonly used in estimates and bidding. Anything from a detailed cost analysis to a comprehensive list of materials for vendors can be quickly generated. Additionally, subcontractors can make their own report templates. This allows subcontractors to quickly and efficiently run reports that are required on an ongoing basis, without having to create a report from scratch each time.

Integrated reporting enables contractors to generate professional looking reports without requiring specialized skills or knowledge of external reporting software. Creating reports in construction cost estimating software is fast and easy, while allowing for greater depth of detail and complexity. Subcontractors can generate reports that are as broad or granular as they wish. Some construction estimating software like ProEst also allows subcontractors to export reports to the external program of their choice, which allows them to export to the program they are most comfortable with.

Final Thoughts

Construction cost estimating software fulfills a number of different functions beyond simply estimating that can help subcontractors. Cost estimating software consolidates all of the data a subcontractor needs to complete their estimate in one place. This eliminates the need to bounce between different sets of data when crafting your estimate, and saves time throughout the process. The ability to create a centralized database of information related to your project is also leveraged by a number of other features contained in construction cost estimating software that helps subcontractors stay competitive. Foremost among these is the ability to produce digital takeoffs directly from blueprints you have loaded into the program. This is a powerful tool that can save subcontractors roughly half the time they would have spent producing a takeoff manually. Digital takeoffs are also more accurate in addition to be quicker to produce. It should be noted that not all cost estimation software has the ability to produce digital takeoffs, so if that is an important feature for you as a subcontractor you should select a software package that includes this capability.

The centralized database that is at the core of construction cost estimating software for subcontractors also facilitates easy report generation. From their centralized database, subcontractors can create reports with a variety of different data without having to juggle between multiple programs or sources of data. Construction estimating software like ProEst has dozens of report templates that can quickly produce reports containing the data you need, while also presenting your information in a professional looking report. This is particularly beneficial to subcontractors that don’t have the time or the skill set to produce high-quality reports.

Construction cost estimating software is useful for subcontractors of any size or specialization. Construction estimating software streamlines the process for creating an estimate. This is critical for subcontractors, which need to get their bids over to general contractors as quickly and efficiently as possible. By utilizing the power of construction cost estimating software, subcontractors will spend less time creating estimates and more time seeking out further business opportunities. Although learning a new program can be intimidating, cost estimating software is built with ease-of-use in mind and doesn’t require any specialized coding or computer knowledge. For subcontractors looking for a means to streamline their bidding process, increase the number of contracts they secure, or gain an edge over the competition, construction cost estimating software like ProEst should be a primary consideration.