Estimating Software?


I’ve been in business for almost 2 years and a builder said that maybe I should get estimating software. Can anyone recommend estimating software? Also, will that have standard prices built into it? I am still not sure if I need the software or should I buy a 2020 estimator book and just work with that.


Senior Member
There are numerous options all depending on your budget and the time you want to invest.
I’ve tried a low cost one but never took the time required to master it. Even tried the 30 day free trials on a couple better ones but again could not bring myself to invest the time.

Hindsight, take the time now while you’re young and ambitious.


Senior Member
Similarly, I've been in business 3+ years.
Pretty much right off the bat, knowing I'd need to be able to estimate jobs in order to get work, I bought Holt's book on estimating. It's a good informational book about the process of estimating.
I also went ahead and bought the software, Turbobid. I don't do a ton of estimating, I just wanted something to use to put together a bid.

If I had to give a customer review of the Turbobid product, I would say it's a little too regimented. It wants to walk you through the whole process of estimating from start to finish- sometimes I don't want that. It has pre-made assemblies that it wants to use, I would like to create my own assemblies based on how I want to put a bid together but I can't figure out how to do that (I'm sure you can do it though). Sometimes I just need to quickly throw together a bid for hooking up a hot-tub, or even a simple task of wiring up a 2-car garage. I find the Turbobid to be a little too involved for those types of jobs.

Dont get me wrong, I'm not bashing Turbobid, it's a good well thought out product, and they're constantly doing upgrades to add new assemblies. I just find, for myself, that when I start bidding a job (of the type I'm regularly encountering) if I use TB I find myself going down a rabbit hole where I get lost in all the minute details and I end up not using it for the smaller jobs that I regularly encounter.

That said, if I was to get associated with a GC that did whole-house new construction, and maybe had several jobs that I was working with him on, I can't imagine bidding and keeping track of jobs without some type of software. Then I would definitely have more incentive to invest the time to learn all the particulars about how to use the software.

From following this type of topic on this forum, I know you're going to get a lot of feedback about creating your own Excel worksheet and starting from scratch to personalize it to your needs. I find that's the direction I keep getting myself steered towards, and have been working on for the last year or so.

Nothing is easy! Any path you take is going to require an investment in time (& some $).


Senior Member
I'm curious as to how this builder came about suggesting you get an estimating system.

I used Excel for all my stuff starting back in 1990 (actually it was Lotus 123 that I started in). I was bidding pump and tank work at the time, taking up concrete/asphalt, digging tank holes, canopy footers, ditches, installing pipe, backfilling, pouring concrete, setting dispensers, wiring everything, etc. I took a 2-3 hour process and could do it in about 15 minutes after building my spreadsheet. The person that followed me in that position told me he thought it was a great template but he thought the labor was about 10% high. I can live with that.


Senior Member
We use ConEst intellibid; it takes a little time to get familiar with it. They will spend some time with you on the computer training you how to use it, and they have classes nationwide you can attend.

Other contractors have told me Accubid is easier to use for creating your own assemblies but I can’t personally verify that. I’m so deep into intellibid now and have so little time to learn something new that I can’t see making that switch, but I will say it’s not terribly hard to make assemblies in Intellibid.

The most difficult part is making sure you are building them with the same part SKU’s that you buy from your local supplier to keep pricing and purchase orders correct. We use NetPricer to connect to our suppliers for pricing updates. Out of the box the pre-made assemblies are very useful, but as we do very repetitive work I’m able to better fine-tune the take-off and costs using my own.

If you have any specific questions about this software I’ll answer the best I can. I’ve been using it for prob 5-6 years now so I’m decently familiar with it.

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