Vendors providing construction estimating software solutions for mechanical contractors typically offer a variety of tools specific to piping work, like ductwork and valves. They also may have plumbing cost information and sheet metal estimating templates.
Some products allow users to save assemblies that appear on many plans so they don’t have to count every instance of a symbol like dampers, registers or air handlers from the prints. They can also speed up the takeoff process with pattern search.
While the features of mechanical estimating software vary among vendors, many offer some of the same core functions. These include takeoff and estimating capabilities, supplier cost databases, and customizable items, assemblies, labor costs, and markups. Many also provide a variety of comparison reports that allow estimators to view alternate estimate versions side-by-side for better understanding and evaluation.
Other key tools in mechanical estimating software are a bill of materials and project summary reports. These help estimators track project costs, identify budgets, and highlight areas where rework or change orders may be needed. These features can save time and money by eliminating rework and reducing the amount of non-recoverable change orders.
Some products, like Sage Estimating, allow users to import data from 3D BIM models for more accurate takeoffs and estimates. These systems are a great choice for large projects and can help eliminate the need for physical measurements on the job site. Other estimating software, such as ProEst and Clear Estimates, offers pre-built templates for standard jobs like remodeling or home additions, making it easier to create detailed and professional proposals.
Some estimating software, such as SimPRO, allows estimators to keep a detailed database of items, including the cost, sale price, and markup for each item. The system can then use this information to generate highly detailed and accurate estimates on each individual job. Additionally, the platform integrates with other construction management tools like Groundplan and PlanSwift for more efficient takeoff.
Pricing is a major sticking point for many contractors who consider investing in construction estimating software. However, many products save money in the long run by making estimates more accurate and reducing costly rework and change orders.
Most construction estimating programs include standard features like a regularly updated cost database and pre-built estimate templates. Some also offer city cost indexes with pricing data at the local level. Other estimating systems offer a variety of pricing options for different types of projects, such as piping and sheet metal work.
Some programs allow contractors to store assemblies of frequently used parts that can be reused on future estimates. This feature is a huge time-saver that eliminates the need to take off each appearance of an assembly on every plan. Other programs incorporate smart editing technology that automatically updates costs based on changes to labor rates and product prices.
Other construction estimating software, such as Buildxact, makes it easy for users to create a detailed estimate in a few clicks. Its streamlined process reduces rework and allows contractors to submit proposals faster than manual estimating processes. The program has a clean and intuitive interface and boasts that it helps users complete estimates up to five times faster than with other methods.
Another popular solution, ProEst, offers free estimating software for nonprofit organizations. It provides unlimited phone and GoToMeeting support and offers training and classroom sessions. ProEst also provides a comprehensive library of construction-cost items and assemblies that is tailored to the location where the project will be built.
Choosing the right estimating software for your business can be an investment. That’s why most estimating software companies offer support and training to help contractors use the tools. The most common support options include telephone and GoToMeeting phone support and live online onsite training. Some also offer classroom training sessions once a month and advanced training programs twice a year.
Some estimating software products also allow users to store assemblies that can be reused in future projects, which helps save time. This feature is especially useful for contractors working on repetitive tasks such as drywall or roofing. These assemblies can be stored in the takeoff tool, and the cost estimates will automatically be updated whenever the assembly is changed.
Pricing is often a major consideration for construction professionals when considering estimating software. However, if the software is able to save a company money in the long run by making the estimating process more efficient and accurate, it will usually pay for itself in the first few jobs that it is used on.
Estimating Edge offers a suite of features that allows contractors to “bid smarter and build better.” The platform is designed for commercial construction projects and covers all aspects of the job, from painting, flooring, fireproofing, and drywall to mechanical and electrical work. Contractors can also use the software to track their production and create payable invoices. The platform is cloud-based and includes a database of supplier costs, unlimited estimates and templates, and ongoing material and price-database updates.
For mechanical contractors, the ability to perform digital measurements and incorporate labor, equipment, overage, profit margin and tax is important. Ask the vendor if the software offers this capability.
Also, look for an estimating software that lets you create and store assembly information. For example, if you frequently take off the same type of chiller connection, the program can store this information as an assembly and save you time by eliminating the need to take off each appearance of the assembly in a plan drawing.
Similarly, some programs allow you to store and reuse standard mechanical items like elbows, tees and joints in a library. This means you can simply select the size of the item and the program will calculate a bill of materials with the most current pricing for all the required components surrounding it.
The best estimating programs also have a large database of mechanical-specific parts and items. This includes a full range of light gauge and heavy gauge sheet metal material for heating, ventilation and air conditioning. It should also include the ability to easily build custom assemblies.
Look for a mechanical estimating software that integrates with Building Information Modelling (BIM) tools. This enables you to pass detailed takeoff data from the BIM model into the estimating program, eliminating the need for manual measurement and calculation. Also, check to see if the program allows you to import existing CAD files to speed up the setup process.