Construction Estimating Software

Hi everyone. I’m was just wondering what estimating software everyone was using and/or could recommend. I have seen a handful on the internet ranging from $60 to $900 and up. I don’t think this would qualify as one of those “you get what you pay for” because the expensive softwares might be over kill for flipping/remodeling houses, but I’m just starting off in REI so I couldn’t really say. Anyways, any thoughts and comments would be appreciated. Thanks!

Getting some estimates from roofers, drywallers, plumbers, electricians, etc as well as looking at product prices at Lowe’s/HD should help you.
Do you really think you need software for this or is that what some “course” is telling you to do?
As your experience grows and you do some deals, you’ll feel much more comfortable in estimating rehab costs yourself.

Both I suppose. I have read some posts on here about people who use estimating software and some of the literature i have been reading about flipping suggests using software until I get the hang of estimating. I guess I just want to be as accurate as possible. Your suggestions about getting estimates from contractors and visiting lowes are definetely ones I have considered and will do. I am just thinking that a program can do this all much faster and with less headache, but like i said i am new so I couldn’t really say.

Ok. Just wondering.
On some of my last few houses, I’ve been able to stay within about $500 of my initial rehab estimate. That’s just from experience.
I guess my point with software or any other automated system is the quality of the information. If the software estimates $125/hr for a plumber, but you can find one for $65/hr your estimates will be way off.

I think these posts are right on. I have done a few flips and never used software, however, my estimates are within a few hunderd dollars. I guess it really comes down to knowing what you’re getting into. If you know the problem areas, you can always ask a professional or a home improvment store what they would estimate for repairs. It might be better off to use an inspection company on your first few deals and learn what to look for.

Good posts…

I agree that with experience you’ll be able to figure out the rehab costs eventually.

I would suggest you spend an afternoon at Home Improvement store and get an idea of prices on the basics - doors, windows, plumbing fixtures, light fixtures, etc.

Get estimates on big items such as roofs, tile, flooring, perhaps landscaping (very laborious!)

Keep good notes and invoices from your 1st rehab. For future rehabs, use $/sq. ft to estimate future rehabs e.g. if on a rehab you spend $2000 to install carpet for a 1500 sq ft home, you know your flooring is going to run $1.30/sf. Do this with all of the cost areas and you’ll have a great system for estimating rehabs in your area.

Hope that helps.

I use the phone software system. Call up a local contractor and have them bid on the project. I figure that if i do it I can budget half of what he quotes. Has not failed in 10 years of doing this.

I do estimating as a profession and I’ll give you a few tips.

There are two parts to estimating a rehab job…

#1 figuring out what the task is to repair the job…
for example… the house you are purchasing has a leaky roof…
Estimating to re-roof the entire house will solve the problem but brings with it a high
Knowing the age of the current shingles and realizing the material is available by
the bundle at home depot, the roof is only 2 years old and the leak is localized to shingle area that can be replaced by 6 shingles… will solve your problem
and keep your costs down

#2 Quantifying your repair and trying to figure out the real $$$ costs

Item #1 is an item that comes with experience in the trade, a good ladder and the willingness to get dirty, crawl thru crawl spaces, climb into attics and rip open tell holes in walls. This will come with your rehabs but at first, your best bet is to get multiple opinions… Think of it as a doctor… if you were diagnosed with a life threatening illness you would get second and third opinions as the solution. Construction is no different. Get three tradesmen to look at the problem and ask them to propose a solution just not list a price to fix.

Item #2 is easy… All estimates come down to three basic items, materials labor and equipment.

Make a spreadsheet quantifying the material you will need. Go to home depot or call your local supply house and you can get material prices with ease. If you dont already own one, pick up a RS Means book… they have one specific to residential type projects… Or you can subscribe to their program online called means construction works. I do not use these books for costs as they are an average cost nationally. What the book is good for are the production rates. It will list next to an item, the crew size (1 carp, 2 elec) etc and their daily output… example a crew of 2 elecs can put up 10 light fixtures a day. Put that production rate into your labor side of the spreadsheet… divide out the quantity by the production rate and multiply by the crew size and you will have the man hours to complete the task… Then you can ask around for the average rate the trade charges and plug it in. Keep in mind if it works out that you will need an electrician for 2 hours… they may charge a min of half day or 4 hours to do the task. The book will also list big ticket equipment items to do the job (backhoes, bulldozers, etc) dont start counting the costs of nail guns and hammers because most trades people figure the basic tools as a part of their overhead. At the end of each trade dont forget to give them a markup… right now most guys will accept 10% because the market is not good but in good times they used to mark stuff up 15 to 20%.

Ive found that if you go to a trade knowing what you think the job is worth before hiring them you will get a much better price in the negotiations. Let me know if you need any help.


Flipper’s Cash Flow Analyzer by Douglas Rutherford.

I have no vested interest, or ax to grind against any other piece of software. However, this is the best software I have found to date, and I’ve been in the software business for 20 years, and the RE business for 10.

It’s not real sophisticated software for building a sky scrapper. This is software for doing exactly what the name implies – software to analyze the cash flow – the costs, itemizing the scope fo work, the schedule, the overall cash inputs and flows over the life of the investment.

Undoubtedly the best $80 I ever spent. Unfortunately, he’s now bumped it up to $99.95, but it’s still a bargain. Helps if you have a good knowledge of what it is you’re trying to accomplish, and if you know Excel or Spreadsheets well.

Good luck, and HTH!

Email me and I will give you for FREE!