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Using CAD for Construction Estimating

In a business with razor-thin margins, inaccurate estimates can wreak havoc. Fortunately, construction estimating software can help improve accuracy, streamline the process, and boost team productivity.

The best CAD software for construction estimators has the ability to handle electronic CAD files, paper plan digitizing, or PDFs. Some options also include a graphical display of build assemblies for easier visualization.

Streamlined Process

Using CAD software for construction estimating allows architects, engineers, and other design professionals to create precision two-dimensional drawings or three-dimensional models of new buildings. This streamlined process saves time and money by eliminating the need to re-enter data or transfer information between programs. It also helps reduce the potential for errors by providing a single source of truth and increased collaboration.

A CAD system can also streamline the process of creating bid specifications and proposals. Once a contractor has calculated their estimated costs for a project, they can use those numbers to prepare a proposal for the client. This step can be especially helpful for smaller construction companies who may have a harder time generating competitive quotes without the help of advanced technology.

Buildertrend’s Construction Estimating program offers all of the standard features you might expect from a top-tier estimating solution, including regularly-updated cost databases and industry-standard templates. But what really sets it apart is its full integration with the rest of Buildertrend’s platform. After users import a takeoff file from AutoCAD Revit, SoftPlan, Cadsoft Envisioneer, Planswift, or eTakeoff, the ConstructionSuite system automatically builds an estimate complete with categories, subcategories, and items. It can even calculate labor and material quantities, and use the data to generate a bill of materials or schedules of work. Then, builders can use QuickBooks integration to easily create a chart of accounts, purchase orders, invoices, and budgets.


The accuracy of a construction estimate is greatly improved through the use of CAD software. This software makes it possible for teams to spend less time measuring and counting, and more time analyzing the cost of materials and labor. Additionally, it eliminates the errors and miscalculations that are often caused by manual processes.

Lastly, a CAD tool helps contractors account for changes in plans or design during the takeoff process. These changes can have a big impact on project costs and timelines if they are not addressed properly. For example, if a lighting fixture is changed from a standard light to a high-efficiency fixture, the quantity must be adjusted accordingly. Fortunately, many estimating solutions offer change management features that allow users to make these adjustments easily and efficiently.

When selecting a CAD solution for your construction estimation needs, look for one that integrates with other software tools your team uses. For instance, if you prefer the metric system over imperial or you have custom classifications for your projects, make sure the software supports those preferences. You should also choose a solution that works well with your existing workflows and offers flexibility for future upgrades.

The integrated 2D+3D construction takeoff and estimating solution in UDA ConstructionSuite is a powerful, cloud-based software that can help you win more work with accurate estimates. Our platform provides easy access to the latest drawings/plans, 3D models, and quantities across teams, resulting in improved collaboration.

Time Savings

CAD has long been used as a design, drawing and modeling tool by architects, engineers and other professional designers. But it is increasingly becoming a powerful tool for construction estimation as well.

Construction estimating software makes it easier to take off quantities and produce detailed material lists with visual blueprint images that clearly show the location of each item. This allows team members to work more efficiently with a reduced need for manual calculation and hand-sketching. It also helps eliminate miscommunication that can lead to costly mistakes and delays.

With a best-in-class system like PlanSwift, you can do CAD takeoffs and calculations directly on your screen, saving a significant amount of time compared to traditional methods. This enables you to focus more of your time on the tasks that matter most.

While takeoffs help quantify resources, estimates move this process a step further by factoring in costs for materials, equipment and labor. Teams can use a variety of tools to create an estimate, including quotes from subcontractors and unit prices of similar projects.

As the world continues to evolve at a breakneck pace, it is more important than ever for businesses to invest in technology that streamlines their operations and keeps them competitive. Warehouse robots, construction site drones and robust project management computer programs are just some of the tools that are helping to drive efficiency and reduce errors across many industries.


Using CAD allows for easier collaboration between teams. It eliminates the need to rely on paper blueprints, making it easier to share information and create estimates. Plus, it saves time and money by cutting down on the need to reprint estimates and rework due to miscommunication.

Construction estimation software also provides a more accurate estimate, which leads to better project outcomes. This can mean fewer rework requests and staying on budget—which, in turn, can help you win more work.

In addition, CAD software offers a variety of features to meet all kinds of needs. For example, it can be used in both 2D and 3D mode. It can also be integrated with other software tools, such as construction takeoff and cost estimating solutions. It can also be utilized on a variety of platforms, including PCs, tablets and mobile phones.

The right estimating solution can give your business the edge it needs to compete in the industry and stay profitable. With an integrated CAD takeoff and measurement tool, you can reduce calculation errors, while a bid comparison feature helps you win more projects by leveraging standard pricing information as well as your own historical data. And, with cloud-based data management, you can collaborate on projects in a centralized platform and get your estimates right the first time. Ready to start winning more work? Try Causeway Estimating.