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  1. #1

    Default Residential Remodeling Estimating Software

    Everyone,

    I was looking for advise and discussion on the estimating software people use and find helpful in the residential remodeling sector. From what I have found there is little information out there either on the web or in the magazines regarding this topic. I do know the major ones, Bid4Build, Procontractor MX, Goldenseal, Bid2Win, etc. Specifically we have used HomeTech for the last five years.

    It seems to me there are two critical components; the underlying costbooks and the interface.
    I really like the HomeTech interface, but I just don't think they are continuing to put dollars into improving the system. I demoed the Bid4Build, and while they have a ton of cost book information, it is not user friendly at all in my opinion. And specifically for our business, as time progresses the costbooks become less important than the interface because we do small and unique projects that aren't really found in the costbooks, and I am constantly adding our own costs to the database.

    Lastly, we are really just looking for a computer based estimating software. I don't care if it is tablet based, and do not want the extra bundled items like those found in Procontractor MX. Any comments would be much appreciated.

    Thanks

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Lancaster County, PA
    Posts
    653

    Default Re: Residential Remodeling Estimating Software

    If you are doing a lot of 'small & unique' projects, then the boxed programs will always fall short. I use a custom made (by me) Excel spreadsheet that has both unit cost items (for materials & labor like production work) and materials prices built in that I get directly from my suppliers. I update their pricing every 4 months. I've tried some of the boxed programs, but still find myself having to enter custom data anyway.

    No extra bundled items with Excel.
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  3. #3

    Default Re: Residential Remodeling Estimating Software

    Jeremy,

    Thank you so much for the follow up. I completely agree with you. The inherent problem is that while we do some unique projects, we also do some projects that would benefit from a cost database, such as developing quick budgets for large scale additions. While it might not be 100% accurate, it gets us into the right ballpark so the client knows generally how much they will be looking to spend. From there I refine it with actual material and subcontractor costs for the final contract amount.

    The obvious other benefit is that you are basically paying someone to develop the interface for you, which would be far less money than the time that I would have to invest to create a system that works for me. At a minimum, I could choose not to use the costbooks, and just populate the database myself, but at least someone has created a solid framework. At least this is what I am thinking. That is why I have liked HomeTech because they have a user friendly interface, but they have not really updated it in all the time that I have used it, so I don't think they are really developing the software any more.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Lancaster County, PA
    Posts
    653

    Default Re: Residential Remodeling Estimating Software

    For quick budget type numbers, I use Superbuild.com. I find that on a typical addition project their numbers are close enough overall. You can use it for all your estimating needs, but I just use it for budgets. It is a free web-based program.
    Contact us for all you mailbox post installation needs!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    New York
    Posts
    701

    Default Re: Residential Remodeling Estimating Software

    I do remodeling exclusively and I'm in the same school as Jeremy using a 6 page home based Excel estimating sheet.

    As Jeremy mentioned, out of the box estimating programs will fall short, and IMO fall dangerously short.

    I've been doing remodels for a long time and each is so unique with its own set of variables that you must build the project piece by piece, line by line at your desk.

    You really need to become familiar with Excel and get your mindset into the pre-build mode.
    Excel can be tweaked and after a few estimates it will get better and more inline with your needs making it easier and more complete over time.

    I've also just started using SpecBid which gives me real material costs since I'm getting real time pricing from local suppliers for my estimates. It not only eliminates the "seat of your pants" cost game going by what you think it costs from memory or by your last purchase, but also saves a ton of time since you can do it at your desk 24-7.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Burlington, Vt
    Posts
    6

    Default Re: Residential Remodeling Estimating Software

    I too have tried quite a few pre-built programs over the years, but have found nothing better than the Excel spreadsheet I have developed for remodeling over the last 20 plus (I hate to admit it) years. It not only estimates by category and items with accurate SF labor & material costs, is totally customizable by line item, and tabulates into a detail or by category estimate, but now inegrates with Quickbooks and turns out jobcost and estimated completion costs for reports to clients on T&M jobs.

    Nothing works better than experience and (like remodeling) ingenuity to solve problems and adapt to the circumstances to get the job done. I can share this spreadsheet (7 pages) and teach anyone how to use it.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Knoxville, TN
    Posts
    38

    Default Re: Residential Remodeling Estimating Software

    My company uses Xactimate's Remodel version exclusively. We have seen our gross profits jump up by almost 20% over the past year. It's a very powerful software program espically because of the monthly database updates. It's not perfect though and some prices are just too low but since we control each of the line items in the scope I can change the unit price values as I see fit to match reality in the cases where the prices ate low. What is very useful in this software is the Scope of Work it produces. I recently priced out repairs on a rental property for a client that came to over $10k. They didn't even bat an eye at the price because of the level of detail we gave them on the scope of work. Also we run the scope that it only shows the total price with the a breakdown of the units....LF, sq ft, ea., etc. we have had great success with this software...oh and it's the only language the insurance companies speak when we di insurance jobs.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    Boulder, CO
    Posts
    11

    Default Re: Residential Remodeling Estimating Software

    Kip,

    On some level, I'm sure it's tough to want to share something that you've earned the hard way. But I've changed my own personal mind-set a bit of late. I've been working somewhat in isolation. But the more I read and the more I do talk to others, I'm becoming a believer that "opening-up" more and talking with others in our business is a good thing. I think it's better to view them (you) less as competition and more as colleagues who are in the same battle and as such, are simply good resources to share with and learn from.

    So I for one would very much appreciate seeing how your Excel spreadsheet compares to the (admittedly imperfect) one I've developed over the years. I used to work with GoldenSeal and found it reasonably "workable". But there were bugs-a-plenty and I had NOTHING but bad experiences trying to "talk" with Dennis - the only customer support rep I ever was able to speak with when problems arose. He would only want to hear a question the way he wanted to hear it. Drove me absolutely crazy. So I gave up on that program, particularly when I had to pay for updates....

    Anyway, estimating is obviously not a science in the remodeling real-world. And it simply takes a lot of time. I can surely acknowledge that it is, by far, the aspect of my business I like the least.

    So anything that can help me, help us all, get through this process faster, more accurately, less painfully would be a very welcome asset. Thanks in advance for whatever you are willing to share.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Burlington, Vt
    Posts
    6

    Default Re: Residential Remodeling Estimating Software

    Hi Fuller House,

    I can't agree more that we are better to share than hold our "secrets" close. Even working in the same neighborhoods, there is more to be gained by supporting each other than under-bidding. Shelter is a necessity, after all, and even in the toughest times, there is work to be done.

    That being said, I would be pleased to share my Excel spreadsheet. After suffering a fall (always wear your safety harnesses, guys) and other life choices, I am moving away from actual construction toward mentoring small residential remodeling companies. I am also writing a book "How to Remodel Your Home and Save Your Marriage Doing It" and am available to coach home owners on how to get along with their builder.

    Drop your email at http://artisanbuildersworkshop.com and I'll send the spreadsheet along. (sorry if this reads like an advertisement)
    Last edited by HardleyWorkin; 04-10-2013 at 04:31 PM. Reason: fixed website reference

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Posts
    44

    Default Re: Residential Remodeling Estimating Software

    I actually have been using bid4build for years now and love it. there is a lot of flexibilty with the box software but you just need to know how to use it for your purposes. I have been able to do small and large estimates and create my own database very easily. the folks at bid4build can explain how to do this based upon how you run your business and what information you are trying to provide to customers.

    In fact, i saw this on their website which is how you can use the software to create an estimate for even a cleaning company.

    http://www.bid4build.com/User/Clean_Labor_Report.pdf
    Last edited by JohnThomas; 05-02-2012 at 01:13 AM.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Ann Arbor Michigan
    Posts
    144

    Default Re: Residential Remodeling Estimating Software

    CPI....

    Try the search feature on this forum if you really want to see all your options.....and give yourself some time to read....

    I started by hand estimating, then using excel, and eventually went with Clear Estimates.

    If your mindset is with excel, you need to purchase Jay Christoferson's book, estimating with excel. It comes with templates and is a great resource. I used excellent for years and had success with it.

    I eventually moved over to CE because it produced a written scope of work, on top of all the estimating....AND it's extremely customizable, from text output to database manipulation.

    My two cents.....good luck..

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Posts
    1

    Default Re: Residential Remodeling Estimating Software

    Please share! Sounds awesome.

    Kevin@ksdesignbuild.com
    Last edited by KSDB12; 01-04-2013 at 10:02 AM. Reason: Forgot Email

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    San Francisco, CA
    Posts
    16

    Default Re: Residential Remodeling Estimating Software

    Hey guys,

    I just stumbled across this thread, lots of great discussion. I'm wondering if any of you would be interested in talking offline about the pros/cons of the solutions you are currently using? I'm a co-founder at EZGC.co and in the midst of building out a cloud-based estimating tool and would love to hear feedback from any of you.
    ==============================================
    Colin Whooten
    Co-Founder, EZGC.co
    colin@ezgc.co
    ==============================================

  14. #14

    Default Re: Residential Remodeling Estimating Software

    Kip, I would love to see your spreadsheet! Sounds like an interesting move you are making into helping remodelers and homeowners participate together. (davidshow4@aol.com) BTW, I LOVE Burlington. My daughter went to UVM.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Posts
    1

    Default Re: Residential Remodeling Estimating Software

    I'd be interested in looking at this spreadsheet. spectrumcm@comcast.net Thanks, Jay
    Last edited by Jayg20; 01-23-2013 at 12:57 PM. Reason: forgot email address

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