Contractor Estimating Software

Written by Blaire Chandler-Wilcox
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The number one goal of any professional contractor is to come in on a project at-, or ideally under-, budget. Not only does this protect his profit margin, but it also directly affects customer satisfaction. In order to stay on top of budget, the professional contractor must be able to accurately estimate job costs before the first nail is hammered into the first 2x4.

In the years before contractor estimating software was around, estimating was often really "guess-timating." Very few contractors had the manpower, or patience, to carefully do hand counts of every single element involved in a project. And of course, every time even a single design change would occur, the list would have to be updated by hand.

Many professionals relied instead on their previous experience with jobs similar to the one at hand. They would provide their customer with a loose estimate, and pray that these expectations would be met at the time of bill presentation. Unless the contractor in question was also a CPA--carrying within his mind every single element of the project and the corresponding cost--there could be no certainty at the top of production that final costs would be at or under the original bid. It was often a gamble.

Contractor Estimating Software: Eliminates Guestimating

Today, contractor estimating software eliminates guesswork. By plugging in specifications, "to the nail" cutlists are automatically generated. These highly detailed lists are organized into categories and subcategories reflecting each piece of wood, framing materials, finish materials, and hardware. Many programs have automatic formulas that calculate to the pennynail what the job will cost, giving contractors the ability to present firm estimates that can always be relied upon for accuracy.

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