Concrete Estimating Software Buyers Guide
Last updated: December 05, 2023
Accurate, fast estimates are pivotal to winning any concrete job. You can’t just make-do with manual “ballpark” methods when it comes to building projects that require large amounts of concrete. Even minor miscalculations can cost you hundreds or maybe millions of dollars. Which is why you need a proper concrete estimating software for your construction business. A concrete estimating system is designed to help construction businesses determine costs accurately. You can use this accuracy to find leaks in revenue and efficiently plug them up.
When looking for a concrete work estimating system that will let you put together an accurate estimate of what a project will cost, you need to know exactly what to look for so you can avoid buyer’s remorse. This guide will walk you through the basic criteria for selecting and evaluating the right concrete estimating solution for your construction business. We will take a data-driven look at the most popular products as well as the key features you should consider when purchasing concrete estimating software. The guide will begin with a brief overview of concrete estimating systems and then dive into the strategies for choosing the most suitable vendor. Overall, it will help you make a more informed purchase decision.
What you'll find inside:
- Understanding concrete estimating software
- Benefits of concrete estimating software
- Tips on how to identify your needs
- Common features of a concrete estimating software
- Specific features to look for
- Cloud-based vs onsite
- Assessing the expenses
- Potential Challenges
- Popular concrete estimating software
Understanding Concrete Estimating Software
Concrete estimating systems are designed to help contractors and construction professionals calculate labor and material costs for concrete and masonry projects. These technology-driven products enable you to quickly quantify costs, share access to project details, and collaborate on plans in real-time. Instead of using outdated systems or pouring hours in manual estimates and takeoffs, you can use these software to make quick work of measurements and determine the costs for any and all materials needed to complete a job profitably. These robust tools also help users in measuring areas, lengths, and calculating the volume of concrete in just a few minutes. All in all, they automate the task of estimating costs for various processes and materials so that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time.
Benefits of Concrete Estimating Software
The key benefits of concrete estimating software include, but are not limited to:
- Accurate cost estimates
- Increased productivity & efficiency
- Better collaboration
- Consistent estimates
- Fewer resources required
- More bidding opportunities
- Instant budget creation
- Better project management
- Visibility into project life stages
- More professional proposals
- Up-to-date cost databases
- Reduced rework
- Faster project delivery
Goal Setting: Areas You Want to Improve
Before you begin to evaluate any concrete estimating software vendors, you should first understand why you need to implement one. You need to be certain of your construction business’ current needs and requirements in order to figure out what areas you want to improve. Once you are done understanding your current needs, you need to make sure you do the necessary leg-work to find the most relevant software vendor. After all, you don’t want to end up with a tool that doesn’t work for you or just can’t get to grips with.
Define Your Current Problems Before Seeking a Solution
To select the right concrete building cost estimator platform for your business, you should first and foremost highlight the pain points and deficiencies in your current setting. Point out the areas you need to improve so that you can look for a system that aligns with your needs and is within your budget.
Vendor Shopping: Salient Features
Now that you have determined the concrete estimating needs of your business, it’s time for you to shortlist software vendors that perfectly align with your requirements. Compare price and features of products that closely match your unique business needs. It is important to note that concrete work is a visual niche that requires you to outline detailed plans for accurate estimates so you must look for companies that offer the graphical element to let you digitally articulate your construction projects at hand. Keep a few features of concrete estimate software in mind as you evaluate the potential vendors because you don’t want to invest in a software that causes problems for your workflow or lacks a fundamental feature.
Concrete estimating software systems come with a variety of different features, depending on the functionalities you need from the vendors and type of your construction business. Make sure that the software system you choose to implement for your construction business meets the specific concrete estimating needs before you lock yourself into a contract with the software company.
When purchasing concrete estimating software for your projects, be sure it comes with the following features:
- Concrete material and labor costs
- Document scanning and recognition
- Proposal generator
- Point-and-click concrete calculator
- Pre-built templates
- Historical database
- Up-to-date estimating database
Point-and-click concrete calculator: The point-and-click calculator feature helps construction professionals by indicating linear lengths & angles, linear square footage, and pitch of a project site. This way, the calculator accounts for unknown pitches, overlays, or elevations and automatically generates modified estimates for the concrete requirements of a construction project based on all variables.
Proposal generation: This is one of the staples of concrete estimating software. It allows contractors and construction professionals to create an accurate bid proposal based on the costs of labor and materials.
Document scanning and recognition: Your transition to a paperless concrete estimating system will require you to scan paper plans and import them into the software. The best concrete estimating systems will offer these standard features to enable you to convert a paper blueprint into a digital one. Make sure that your scanner is able to complete multiple scans throughout the day.
Pre-built templates: Pre-built templates is another must-have feature for your concrete estimating solution. Most estimating tools offer some templates to help users display cost estimates. You should look for the one that offers multiple custom templates to help your present costs.
Historical database: This feature allows construction professionals to store all of their past projects with related concrete material and labor cost estimates in a single database.
Concrete material and labor costs: A software dedicated to this subspecialty will provide an accurate estimate of labor costs and raw materials to help you win more bids. These software solutions also support integration with project scheduling and ordering systems to form an all-inclusive solution that will also include project management and accounting capabilities.
Estimating database: Concrete building cost estimator software offers an estimating database that uses the internet connection to keep track of the continuously changing costs of concrete materials. Constructors and other construction professionals use that information to bid for projects more accurately.
Cloud-based vs. On-Premise Concrete Estimating Software
Concrete estimating software vendors offer two main deployment options for users—hosting the software onto the vendor’s servers and getting instant, online access from any device that is connected to the internet or installing it on your company’s personal computers or servers.
Cloud-based or online products are instantly available to your employees and can be easily accessed via any internet-enabled device. Today, many concrete work estimating tools are offering solutions that handle infrastructure over the network. These support instant updates, mobility, and real-time collaboration.
On-premise or onsite products are installed locally on your computers or servers. You need a physical server or PC to store and run data. In this environment, you deal with infrastructure onsite or at organizational premises.
Assessing the Expenses
The concrete estimating systems are typically very affordable, especially when compared to complex, enterprise-level estimating tools. These software solutions are designed to automate the process of totalling and calculating costs for construction projects that require large amounts of concrete. Construction professionals and contractors can save a significant amount of time. The pricing model for these tools can vary from vendor to vendor, but the cost of purchasing concrete estimating software is largely influenced by the following three factors:
Number of features – Concrete work estimate software companies are crossing boundaries with their combination of features. You will have to pay a higher cost if you choose to add more optional and advanced features in the deployment.
Number of users – Most concrete estimating software providers charge businesses according to the number of users that will be given access to the system.
Cloud vs. onsite deployment – The up-front cost of purchasing an on-premise software system is much higher as compared to the cloud-based products, which don’t have to be installed on your physical servers or PCs.
The estimate concrete costs software options range from Excel add-ons to complex enterprise-level estimating tools. Pricing for these systems start at $99 and can go all the way up to a $100,000+ investment.
There are some issues associated with concrete building cost estimator software that need to be figured out before you adopt one. Firstly, you have to decide how dense you need your new estimating software to be. There are systems that are solely dedicated to concrete and general cost estimating capabilities and include integrated functionalities related to cost estimating and digital takeoffs, and then there are systems that offer concrete estimating capabilities as part of an all-inclusive construction project management solution.
If you already have a construction project management software system in place to manage your projects and are just looking for more advanced estimating capabilities, you probably just need an exclusive estimating solution. But if you’re a new construction business or in need of a one-stop-shop solution, you should consider a system offering concrete estimating as part of a larger suite of features.
The Top Concrete Estimating Software
The following integrated concrete estimating tools have positioned themselves as market leaders:
- ConX Measure
- Acumatica Cloud ERP
Choosing What's Best for Your Company
Selecting the right concrete estimating software for your construction business isn’t a walk in the park, but it’s better to deal with the process before t making million-dollar estimating mistakes. Make sure that the system you choose is intuitive, easy-to-use, logical to operate, and specifically designed for your business type. The right tool for your business can help you win more concrete jobs by offering accurate cost estimates for building projects. When deciding which software to go with, it's crucial that you consider how many people are in the organization, what challenges you want to address, and how you want to move things forward.