STACK Construction Technologies provides industry leading takeoff and estimating software for professional construction contractors. Our easy-to-use, cloud-based platform helps users to transform and streamline the pre-construction process by empowering them to quickly and accurately measure digital plans, collaborate with team members, customize materials and pricing and finalize project. SmartBid Bid Management Software SmartBid is an online construction bid software designed for general and prime contractors to manage subcontractor data, prequalify subcontractors, share project documents and send invitations to bid. As a web-based system, all communications. Construction Takeoff and Estimating Software Pricing for the Easiest Way to Manage and Complete a Construction Online Takeoff™. Bid Management and Calendar Tool Online Takeoff™ Google Map Takeoffs. Works on Mac and PC iPad Friendly All Web Browsers Supported.
Performing accurate cost estimating is critical to the success of your construction business. Estimate too high and you win fewer jobs, too low and your profits disappear. That’s why it’s so important to get it right the first time.
Estimating by hand is time-consuming, so at some point, you may consider using software to bid more jobs in less time. Although software can be a big investment, not every tool has to break the bank.
In this guide, we highlight five free and open source estimating and takeoff products to try if you’re considering this type of solution for your construction business. We chose products that offer a stand-alone free or open source version, meet our definition for construction estimating software, and rank highly in search. (Learn more about how we chose featured products here.)
Here’s what we’ll cover:
- Free construction estimating and takeoff software
- Open source construction estimating and takeoff software
Free construction estimating and takeoff software
In most cases (but not all), free construction estimating and takeoff software options earn revenue by offering a basic free version to entice users to download, with premium features available for a price.
As a result, you should note that the free version of the products listed below may not have all the features you need.
Easy-Pro Builders Estimator
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Overview: This is a 100% free tool that is based entirely on the Apache OpenOffice spreadsheet program Calc. It has two dozen worksheets that report back to a summary page in order to provide updated estimates.
Easy-Pro Builders Estimator was created by a construction manager who wanted to serve smaller construction firms looking for an accurate and simple program that was free.
The software also comes with a 20-page manual so you can get up to speed on how the program works and you’re not simply left in the dark to figure it out yourself.
Some features include:
- Adjustable taxation rates depending on which country you are in
- Client unbilled reporting
- Printable project reports
- Compatible with Windows, Linux
- 24 trade worksheets available
Overview: Estimator 2.0 is aimed at architects, builders, engineers, and construction companies that want to create detailed estimates for residential and commercial buildings. Estimator 2.0 allows users to prepare tenders, a cost abstract, purchase orders, and other documents needed for a proper estimation.
The free program lets you create an estimation and then print it out, ideal for those who are pressed for time and want to quickly make an estimation without having to spend a lot of money on premier software.
Estimator lets construction companies create estimates for a host of construction projects, including concrete structures, earth work, masonry, plastering, and more.
Some features include:
- An extensive tutorial for new users
- Quickly generate an estimate and then print it out
- Prepares tenders, cost abstracts, and purchase orders
- Compatibility with Windows
STACK Takeoff & Estimating Software
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Overview: STACK offers free construction software aimed at firms looking to streamline the bid process and accurately estimate materials, equipment, and labor. The software also provides access to an “extensive library of prebuilt, industry-specific material libraries,” according to its website. It generates an estimate based on your input of how much of each material will be needed and what labor, equipment, and overhead will be involved.
The software is cloud-based and therefore can be accessed from anywhere there is an internet connection. It is also compatible with all types of platforms, from smartphones to desktop computers.
STACK also includes training with the software for free. A full-featured version is available for purchase.
Some features include:
- Ability to upload digital plans
- Takeoff tools that provide shortcuts for measurements, making it quicker to produce a takeoff
- Prebuilt reports to provide insights to inform your estimates
- Free training
Open source construction estimating and takeoff software
Open source construction estimating and takeoff platforms are also free, but they have an additional wrinkle: the original source code is available. There are some benefits and drawbacks to this you should be aware of.
The benefits are that in addition to being free, you will be able to customize and adapt the software to fit your individual business.
The drawback comes up if you don’t have the know-how to mess with original source code. Lack of technical ability could become a problem if the software needs improvement down the road to fit your firm.
2-plan Team Software
Overview: 2-plan Team is a project management platform geared toward construction firms, and among its three PM tools is an open-source desktop system that can be used for multiple projects and teams. It is mostly meant for managing the entirety of a construction project as opposed to just estimating and takeoff, but there are tools available for that purpose as well.
The source code for 2-plan Team has been published at SourceForge, where you can download it for free. It can be installed on any LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL-4 or higher, PHP-5.1) server, and it may work on some Windows servers.
Some features include:
- Manage virtual teams with shared online workspaces
- View the status of multiple projects at the same time with the Project Dashboard
- Tracks time on mobile devices
- Ability to share estimates and budgets with clients, partners, teams, and staff
- Ability to manage teams via mobile devices
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Overview: ESTIMATE is a cloud-based, open-source option that has been released under GNU Affero General Public License. It’s a community-support project, which means the source code is freely available to anyone who wants to customize it for their own construction firm—ideal for construction managers with a little coding know-how.
ESTIMATE aims to be a simple and fast tool that can be adapted to any firm’s size.
Some features include:
- Ability to archive projects and documents for reference
- Can have up to 200 users
- Can create reports in PDF, complete with tables and charts
- A centralized database for backup
Why you must also consider paid solutions
Free and open source estimating software is a great stepping stone for many small construction firms—especially those using software for the first time. But as job volume increases, paid software often becomes the better choice.
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Why? Higher job volume and company growth means more people, processes, and training are necessary to estimate and complete projects. Paid software offers more “out-of-the-box” functionality than free software, as well as training, support, and integration with other critical applications, such as accounting and construction management software.
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Fortunately, there are affordable estimating and takeoff products that also offer free trials. With a free trial, you can try before you buy and avoid purchasing a product your team won’t like.
You’ll get more functionality
When you opt for free and open source platforms, you get what you pay for a lot of the time. There are a lot of special features that can really take your business to the next level—like customized reports and detailed time tracking—that you may not get with a free option. So while you may save a few bucks on software, you’re spending a lot more in lost savings and opportunities.
The software will be more usable
Free and open source platforms can also be a lot more challenging for an organization to use. You’ll have to do your own troubleshooting and maintenance, and you may have a hard time just learning the software with no help.
To help ensure your software search is sufficiently thorough, download this list of top-rated paid software systems and their offerings:
3 Best Construction Estimating and Takeoff Systems Backed by User Reviews
Download this guide to see top construction estimating and takeoff systems based on real user reviews.
How we chose featured products
For the purposes of this article, we classified a product as free if it offers a free, stand-alone version of the software, and it is not just a trial version of the software that requires you to purchase it after a period of time.
The products that met the above criteria were then evaluated against our construction estimating software definition: Construction estimating software helps estimators calculate material and labor costs for a job and then produce a detailed, professional bid proposal from those estimates. Specialized estimating tools are often used to handle trade-specific requirements, such as electrical, HVAC, plumbing, or earthworks/excavating estimating.
We determined the most popular products to feature by choosing those highest ranked in Google search results for “free construction estimating software” during the week of Aug. 5, 2019.
As the owner of a construction company, you probably have to juggle many things to keep your operation running smoothly. A lot of construction business software promises to streamline your job, but which programs are the most essential and likely to provide the help you need? Fortunately, there are many choices of construction management software to help you handle everything from bidding and vendor quotes, to project management and accounting.
Takeoff Construction Software and Apps
- Stack Estimating software is a takeoff and estimating tool that lets you produce bids that contain accurate costs and pricing. Takeoff is an estimation on how much material is needed for a project. Execute your own takeoffs, or use the Stack To-Go tool to get the Stack team to handle the task. Prebuilt catalogues for some trades shortcut your bid creation process by providing comprehensive lists of equipment, materials and labour needed. A coverage rate calculator is also included to help you figure out the quantity of materials for each job.
- On-Screen Takeoff is designed to help contractors and construction professionals reduce costs and save time. Its tools for managing bids and estimating can help you generate accurate bids, including a bid wizard tool to streamline the process while including all necessary details. This estimating app provides cost databases by trade and an electronic quote system, and integrates smoothly with your construction accounting software so you can access cost management data via a tablet from the field.
- PlanSwift‘s takeoff features include the ability to add hyperlinks to your work, drag-and-drop assemblies, and offers prompts that lead you through the process. Commercial and residential general contractors can use this digitizing system, as can electrical, highway and plumbing subcontractors, or pretty much any business that needs digital blueprints. Calculate labour and material costs by clicking on the screen, and measure both linear and square footage with a single click.
- Countfire is a takeoff solution aimed at residential and commercial companies of all sizes, as well as plumbing, mechanical and electrical contractors. It automates counting from PDF drawings and blueprints, and provides a host of other features, including linear and area measurements, 2-D takeoff, CAD integration and automatic scaling. Users praise its ease of use and the clarity of the spreadsheets it produces.
- Import images from CAD files, Vector PDF, and other image formats using WinEx-GRADE, Roctek’s on-premise site development takeoff software. You can also create and edit accurate site drawings using powerful navigation tools. This program is very easy to learn and use, even for those without much technical knowledge.
- Lumber dealers, home builders and general contracters can build 3-D views of their sites with PrebuiltML, an on-premise takeoff software that helps you minimize waste and time by automating the takeoff process. Choose from three levels of software: PrebuiltML LITE provides basic features including page levelling and point-click digitizing; PrebuiltML X is a premium level designed for framers, builders and dealers; and PROtrade helps traders generate accurate material lists and measurements.
Project Management Construction Software and Apps
- BigTime is a great tool designed for small to medium-size construction companies of all types. This app provides a suite of tools for accounting, estimating, project management, project scheduling and job costing. The interactive dashboard lets you see all the data on jobs in progress, including details such as change orders and invoices, with the ability to share all data with your team while they’re out in the field. You can customize business reports as required, and generate notifications when your crew needs to know urgent information.
- PlanGrid‘s construction software gives you access to all your project drawings, shop drawings specs, and photos via iOS, Android, and Windows apps, with automatic syncing to your entire team as details change. This rich suite of collaboration tools lets you track work assignments and punch lists, complete all job site reports, and file RFIs from the field.
- Connect your subcontractors, field workers and office managers with one another and all the data they need through eSUB, a project management app available on mobile devices and in the cloud. By automating labour communication and tracking, eSUB saves time, while its ability to create paperless projects puts all your important documents in your team’s hands simultaneously. The time card module keeps you on top of subcontractor labour costs, and the software integrates smoothly with accounting software.
- Jonas Construction Software incorporates bid management, service management, project management, CRM and construction accounting into one award-winning suite of tools. With 40 modules available across operations and accounting, this software is particularly appropriate for medium to larger-sized construction companies with an annual revenue of at least $1 million.
- Smartsheet documents every step and stage of your various projects, streamlining communication among your team members out in the field. An award-winning business and project management app, this platform enables incident reporting, subcontractor management, equipment tracking and the creation of RFIs, making it popular among both commercial and residential contractors.
- Honest Buildings, which pairs project management and capital planning, is designed for property and company owners who want to make sure projects come in on time and on budget. Intuitive project management software speeds up project delivery and helps you find ways to reduce your project costs to enhance your bottom line. Features include job costing, change orders, job estimating, contract management, and RFI creation.
- CoConstruct enjoys seamless integration with QuickBooks Online. You enter data once and all of it will flow through every step, including estimating, specs, proposals, change orders and budgeting. Its CRM properties help you manage quotes, sales, time and contracts, with customizable templates and analytics to assist with construction estimating. Take advantage of an entire suite of construction project management features, as well as features specifically designed to streamline home building, remodelling, and all aspects of residential construction.
- Premier integrates smoothly with your desktops, laptops and mobile devices to keep office and field employees in the loop. Because of its SaaS model and free training, it’s a low-risk project management solution for new companies that have to invest their capital carefully, and there’s no need to purchase additional modules. Use it to track budgets, handle change orders and RFIs, and manage contracts.
- RedTeam‘s project management cloud app is ideal for medium-sized commercial construction businesses. Developed by contractors, this app connects team members via any mobile device to share data and manage the preconstruction, construction and closeout stages of any job. As a one-stop project management solution, it streamlines CRM, job cost accounting, estimating, bid management, and tracking of team conversations. The app offers unlimited data storage and backups, and also integrates in real-time with QuickBooks. Users praise its real-time monitoring of bid and cost information.
- Roots is a start-to-finish cloud-based project management solution designed to also help with estimating, work procurement, business management, accounting and progress analytics. General contractors, subcontractors, and government contractors of all sizes find it useful to manage their work pipeline, handle CRM and leads, create bids and stay on top of current projects. Its budgeting features let you track financial transactions and forecast expenses.
- Small residential remodelling contractors are likely to find JOBPROGRESS a handy cloud-based solution for their project management needs. Customize your proposals and contracts, even from the job site, since the app works on your mobile device. Among the many dedicated features in this software are contract management, document control, CRM, photo management and estimating. You can also manage your workflow from the dashboard, schedule jobs easily and even get to your job site quickly thanks to its GPS functionality.
- Fieldwire connects engineers and foremen with their mobile workforce through its cloud-based project management solution. Sync the program to your existing cloud storage to keep copies of every version of your files, blueprints and FRIs, and track the progress of each project daily. Users appreciate the customizable categories and easy-to-use calendar functions.
- Bolt project management software is designed specifically for construction subcontractors of any size. It helps you get rid of paperwork by providing real-time editing of change orders and stores all your files in the cloud. Use it to create crew schedules, and handle takeoff and service management tasks.
Construction Accounting Software and Apps
FOUNDATION is a construction accounting application that’s popular with both government and industrial contractors. It provides job costing, scheduling and project management tools, and is available as installed software and in the cloud. This multi-tasking software tracks multiple jobs, unions, locations and rates automatically, and it makes available hundreds of formats for your job costing reports, as well as letting you create custom reports. Add-on modules include document imaging and routing, unit price billing, service dispatch, inventory, and a consolidated general ledger, among others.
Electrical Contractor Software and Apps
If you’re an electrical contractor, take a look at Electrical Bid Manager Enterprise software. Handy features and tools include conversion calculations, proposal generators, material pricing data, and an integrated pricing database that’s constantly updated and designed specifically for electrical contractors. Also available in this electrical estimating software are thousands of prebuilt assemblies and the ability to customize wiring methods, conduit types, fittings and wire types.
Asset Management and Tracking Software and Apps
- Asset Tracking Solutions from Verizon Connect provide an additional level of security to your construction site and equipment. Geofencing creates a perimeter around your assets, so you know if equipment is moved inappropriately, and equipment tracking capabilities allow you to locate assets when you need them. You can also view usage history or set up notifications of any excessive vibration, door movement, or temperature change.
- Manage assets, deter theft and track equipment with EZOfficeInventory. This asset management software can scan RFID tags, QR codes and bar codes in bulk, speeding up inventory and maintenance tasks. Track everything from tools to your most valuable equipment, and create service tickets when maintenance is called for. Location histories and actionable service reports deter loss, and you can start with a 15-day free trial.
Construction Scheduling Software and Apps
- Take care of all your project scheduling with NetPoint, an interactive tool that brings the elements of risk management and reliability to scheduling. Its network-based process streamlines collaborative planning, with clear communication between everyone on your team. Use this software to help team members focus on the tasks that are project critical and to help stakeholders buy in to your planning.
- ControlBoard dispatching and scheduling software wins raves from operations managers who use it to reallocate resources while a job is in progress. Schedule your resources productively and track the location of your people and equipment cleanly with this handy app designed primarily for commercial construction.
Construction Site Management Software
SiteMax provides a user-friendly solution for site management. With digital time cards, geolocation check-in, customized site reports and progress photos, 24/7 weather reporting and real-time view of the project, this software helps demonstrate transparency to your clients, increasing their trust level. Its use of site and safety FlexForms allows you to transform an existing paper process into an electronic system. Because it comes as SaaS, SiteMax is relatively inexpensive, with a free trial available to get you started.
Construction Communication Software
Procore streamlines project documentation and communication to help enhance your efficiency. The software, which you can buy on a subscription basis, works on any mobile device, laptop or desktop. With it, your crew can share drawings, schedules, contracts, RFIs and submittals with all your collaborators, including engineers, architects and owners, keeping everyone up-to-date on each stage of a project’s progress.
Construction Estimating Software
- Digital takeoff is built into ProEst estimating software, supporting most digital files, including AutoCAD, and lets you work with electronic blueprints onscreen. This app lets you refine bids, run what-if analyses and adjust markups, providing support for cost update services including Allpriser, Trade Service and RS Means. With a comprehensive materials database and visual assemblies, ProEst streamlines job management through its smooth integration with construction accounting software.
- Finish your project estimations for light commercial, new residential, remodelling or service jobs with TurboBid, an estimating software designed specifically for small and medium-size contractors. This app updates vendor and marketing pricing automatically, reflecting pricing from Trade Service, and you can also add pricing for your five favourite vendors.
- Small and medium-size electrical and teledata contractors are well-served by Accubid, an estimating program designed specifically for their needs. Labour and cost codes for more than 14,000 different assemblies and 22,000 items are included in Accubid, which also features 2-D takeoff, automatic scaling, and CAD and digitizer integration. Flexible, user-friendly tools help you manage purchases, change orders, accounting and billing without the need for extra data entry. You can purchase the estimating app alone or bundle it with a takeoff app.
- If you’re in the plumbing and mechanical piping line, McCormick’s Plumbing & Mechanical Estimating software is designed specifically for you, with best-of-breed solutions in estimating, bid management and takeoff apps. Service management is also available, and the software integrates seamlessly with McCormick’s other construction apps.
Construction Bidding Software
- BuildingConnected streamlines bidding and helps you manage all of the preconstruction stage, including vendor qualification and bid invitations. You can monitor everything that’s going on in real-time — and that’s just in the free version. Project teams can also collaborate as they go through bidder notes or review bidder history so everyone in the office is on the same page. Upgrading to the paid version provides access to vendor relationship tracking, historical cost data and performance analytics.
- Transportation, utility, oil and gas, and heavy civil industry construction companies can all make use of HCSS HeavyBid estimating and bidding software. Use it to automate repetitive tasks based on data tracked from standardized libraries, performance data, past estimates, and historical costs. Building estimates and managing bids is easy with this software, as is identifying any errors, thanks to its ability to break complex tasks into manageable pieces.
Construction Lead Management Software
Contractor’s Cloud is sales and lead management software that’s based, not surprisingly, in the cloud. Sales-oriented general contractors can customize workflows depending on the needs of their marketplace, and the app offers a dedicated client portal to let customers view the progress of their job, track task status in real-time and communicate smoothly with you. Lead management features make it easy to manage your sales pipeline. Other features include commission tracking, invoicing, estimating, work and material order scheduling, and expense tracking.
Construction Building Information Management Software
Graphisoft’s building information modelling solution ArchiCAD is a useful program for small to medium-size architecture, interior design and urban planning businesses. Choose between on-premise deployment or cloud-based software to calculate floor area, extract still images and animations, and generate elevations, sections, 3-D documents and building views. In addition, the app’s Solibri Model Checker analyzes the building information model to identify design weaknesses.
Integrating QuickBooks With Your Construction Accounting Software
QuickBooks Online integrates seamlessly with many construction project management apps, including CoConstruct, RedTeam, and many others, to help you control costs, manage data and increase productivity. Keep current with your cash flow and job costs, even through project changes, thanks to the customizable reporting options.
You can also consider QuickBooks Enterprise, it contains more than a few features designed specifically to link your construction management and construction accounting, including job costing tools, change order functionality, estimating, scheduling, work orders and flexible billing rates. Paying your employees and subcontractors is fast and easy. In addition, QuickBooks Enterprise tracks job costs automatically and generates construction-specific reports, including unpaid bills by job, billed and unbilled hours by person and job, job status, cost-to-complete and expenses not assigned to jobs.
Considerations Before You Buy
You want to make a wise investment when you’re purchasing construction management software. Choosing construction software that doesn’t meet your needs isn’t just an expenditure that’s hard to justify. It also hampers your productivity and can slow down your progress on an entire project. Asking some of these key questions can help you choose wisely:
- Is this software going to save you time by automating processes, reducing double entry of data and streamlining your workflow?
- Is the software easy to use in the field, with the ability to access data on a job site and operate all tasks fully from a mobile device?
- Does it make collaboration easy, keeping everyone on your team notified of new information, including change orders, schedule changes and other updates?
- Is this software scalable, and does its parent company provide updates and support to keep it viable as future technologies develop?
- How compatible is it with devices and browsers (and are those the devices and browsers you’re already using)?
- Does the software maintain a full record of all communications between your team, clients and vendors?
- How easy is it to set up a new project, including importing estimates and other job information?
- Does this construction management software integrate and share data smoothly with your accounting software so you can handle purchase orders, subcontracts, time/material billing, real-time job costing and other crucial tasks?
- Is it easy to generate forms with this software, including change requests and orders?
- Can this software manage construction documents and images effectively?
- Is the software easy to use without training, with intuitive navigation, a clean user interface and easy-to-read graphics so everyone on your team can get up to speed right away?
Construction Bid Software For Mac Free
When you consider these questions for choosing construction software, you set yourself up to save a lot of time and money on each job. Not every app or program is appropriate for every type of contractor, and your own style of working may lead you to certain programs rather than others. Most of these construction apps offer demos and ample product support, so check out the ones that look most promising and even take a trial run, if available, to get you off on the right foot.