Construction estimating software programs range in cost, be sure to ask how much it costs and if any extra options are included. Most come with a fee to use the program and technical support.
Some estimating software programs can import data from accounting programs, which will save time. They can also include a database of industry standard labor units.
Trimble estimating software is designed to work with the workflows of mechanical contractors bidding on smaller commercial piping and plumbing projects. It combines Digital Takeoff, material pricing from suppliers, specification-driven takeoff and dynamic assemblies into one solution that is easy to learn. It also includes automatic fitting generation and value engineering. It is available as a cost-effective subscription that covers the entire process of estimating through bid submittal.
The software comes with a library of standard fittings and joints which can be used in your estimates. It can use many types of pipe, fittings and joints including soldered, brazed, welded, grooved and pressed joints. It can also include various sizes of copper and carbon steel pipes. The system can also be set up to include different piping materials that you typically work with like Chilled Water, Heating Hot Water or Condenser Water.
Most construction estimating programs come with an extensive database of industry standard labor units from MCAA, PHCC and SMACNA which can be used in the estimating process to get accurate unit price calculations. This can help you create estimates more quickly and increase the accuracy of your results.
Some mechanical estimating software is cloud-based and allows you to access it from any device that has an internet connection. This can make it easier to collaborate with team members and share information. Some programs allow you to customize your reports and isolate specific areas for review. Others provide standard reports that can be used to generate your estimates.
Trimble has several different license options for their Mechanical Construction Estimating software. These range from a single user license to a multiuser or combo license such as Piping/Plumbing & Sheet Metal. They also have an annual maintenance fee that is a reoccurring expense for any upgrades or technical support. These fees usually run anywhere from a few thousand to upwards of $7,000 for a combination license that includes Piping/Plumbing & sheet metal. They are not cheap, but they more than pay for themselves if you use them for bidding projects.
They have a variety of pipe databases including copper, PVC, CPVC, steel, cast iron and various acid resistant plastics. They also have a database of unit labor for the various trades. Using these databases saves time when creating your estimates. They also have a database for material prices from the various suppliers and the ability to import them into your estimate.
Trimble Accubid Anywhere is a SaaS-hosted mechanical estimating software solution that provides estimates, change management, pricing, takeoffs and submittal management. It also provides a mobile application for doing a field takeoff and then importing it into the main estimating program back at the office. They have many other features, including multiuser support and a flexible specification library. They also offer a free trial period so you can see if their solution is right for you.
Many programs offer free software training and videos to help your estimators learn how to use the program. Some also have technical support staff that can assist with any questions or problems. Ask the software vendor if they are willing to come to your office or have a training class that you can attend. This can save on travel costs for your estimators and also allows them to learn at a time that is convenient for them.
Some of the mechanical estimating programs come with a mobile application that can be used to do field takeoff and then imported into the main program back at the office. This can be a huge labor saving and allow you to execute your estimates without spending hours doing the takeoff. Ask the vendor if this is an option and what other features it comes with.
The estimating programs will also have a database that includes different piping material types and the different ways they can be joined together. This can include soldered, brazed, welded, grooved or pressed joints. It will also have the sizes of pipe and fittings that are set up in a particular system, such as Chilled Water, Heating Hot Water or Condenser Water.
Some of these mechanical estimating software programs are connected to the CAD/BIM detailing program and they share an integrated database. This can save a lot of time in the field and keep consistency between the estimating, detailing and fabrication department.
Trimble offers a complete set of software tools for MEP contractors. Its solutions are used by 73% of the top mechanical and electrical construction firms according to a recent industry report. These software solutions include graphical takeoff, project management, bid reporting, specification-driven item property determination and more.
Using the software, estimators can perform a graphical digital takeoff from a paper plan or CAD file without the need for printing and hand marking. Its onscreen capabilities allow the software to be used on the desktop or in a mobile app to reduce takeoff time and costs. This enables the user to focus more time on estimating and creating value engineered alternatives.
Other important features of the estimating software program to consider are its ability to produce accurate hanger and attachment counts. It also includes a full set of piping materials that can be incorporated into an estimate, including copper, steel, polypro and press-fit type fittings. The system can also create piping assemblies for a specific section of the job based on pipe size, reducing and connecting pipe and all of the equipment connections in that assembly.
Another key feature of the estimating software is its ability to calculate the total cost of ownership of the system. This includes the software license, subscription fees, training, customizations, hardware (if needed) and maintenance and support.