Hey there! If you're like me, a seasoned residential contractor based in the U.S. who specializes in estimating, you know that the foundation of a successful project starts with accurate estimates. As the industry evolves, so does the technology that supports it. And with the digital age, it's essential to keep up. So, here are the top five features you should be looking for in modern estimating software.


1. User-Friendly Interface

Remember those days when we had to shuffle through papers and binders to get our estimates? Yeah, I don't miss them either. Modern construction estimating tools should have a straightforward, user-friendly interface. Tools should be intuitive and easy to navigate. After all, we want to spend our time building stuff, not fumbling through complicated software!

For instance, Bolster offers a platform that is not only user-friendly but also keeps things interesting with their cutting-edge technology. Their entire website, especially their detailed guides on subjects like how to calculate concrete volume and the difference between an estimate, bid, quote, and proposal, is a testament to their commitment to making things simple for us contractors.


2. Flexibility and Customization

Each project is unique, and our software should cater to that. Whether you're working on a home remodel or a commercial build-out, your estimating software should allow you to customize your estimates. This can include breaking down costs by materials, labor, overhead or even by different phases of the project.

I'll tell you a quick anecdote. A buddy of mine, Frank, was once stuck with a software that was so rigid that he had to input data in a particular format. This rigidity led to miscalculations, which eventually cost him a project. You don't want to be in Frank's shoes, trust me.


3. Real-Time Data Access

It's essential to get real-time updates, especially in this fast-paced construction world. Material prices fluctuate and labor costs change, so having software that provides real-time data is a game-changer.

This reminds me of a project I was once working on in San Diego. Halfway through, there was a sudden spike in steel prices. Had it not been for my software giving me real-time updates, I would have seriously under-quoted, and you can guess how that would've turned out!


4. Cloud-Based Features

Ah, the beauty of the cloud. Not having to worry about data loss due to system crashes or accessing your estimates from anywhere is a blessing. Plus, having software that allows for collaboration in the cloud? That's the cherry on top. With the benefits of cloud-based estimating software, teams can work seamlessly, ensuring efficiency and accuracy.


5. Integration with Other Tools

We use a myriad of tools in our line of work. Whether it's project management software, accounting tools, or CRM systems, the best estimating software should easily integrate with other tools we use daily. It helps streamline our operations, making everything run smoother. If you're looking to take your estimates to the next level in 2023, you might want to check out how to recession-proof your construction business and the latest construction tech trends.


In Conclusion

Picking the right estimating software is crucial. It can make or break a project. With these features in mind, you're on the right path to ensuring that your estimates are accurate, saving both time and money. And as you dive deeper into your search, remember that Bolster's plethora of resources, like their guide on calculating overhead costs in construction, are there to assist. So go on, embrace the technology, and happy building!


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