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Top 10 Plumbing Estimating Software for Contractors: Pros and Cons

In plumbing estimating and ductwork business, productive and accuracy is the most important. Many estimators still do measurements manually and it wastes much of the time. Luckily, you can save time and work efficiently with hi-tech software product.
By Rachel Phan | EnvZone Staff
on November 21, 2019 | 7 min read
Image credit: Press Associate

What Is Plumbing Estimating Software?

If you are a builder and are looking for an estimated solution for plumbing and pipe trading, plumbing estimation software should be on your list. This software is beneficial to plumbers, general contractors and professionals who fix and renovate residential, commercial, plumbing and electrical companies. The best software can provide every kind of financial estimates for companies and help them manage them effectively. All your estimated plumbing and drainage needs are easily met. 

The unique point about plumbing estimation software is that it has numerous features which are not found in other general estimation software platforms. Therefore, plumbers much prefer the software estimating plumbing to other estimated applications. 

Benefits and Features of Plumbing Estimating Software 

Whether you deal in general plumbing services, sprinklers installation or mechanical services, plumbing software is important to you. These software include color dispatch coded board. The unassigned columns let your dispatchers know that what is still left. Instead of wasting time and money, your technology can easily schedule every important task. The software also allows scheduling and sending, task building, proposal formulation, device tracking, full accounting, marketing suite, CRM and many other functions. 

Benefits:

  • Save time 
  • Error detection 
  • Determine pipe size 
  • Streamlined daily reporting 
  • Easy scheduling 
  • Better work production 
  • Remote access 
  • Communication improved between plumbers and office staff

Features:

  • Plumbing item database 
  • Plumbing assemblies 
  • Plumbing-specific Pricing Integration 
  • 3D modeling 
  • Time and materials billing 
  • Project management 
  • Scheduling 
  • Inventory control 

Plumbing Estimating Software Deployment 

Estimation software for plumbers is usually deployed in one of two ways. Generally, software was installed directly on users' computers (and paid for under a perpetual license). This is called "on-premise" software. However, most modern software is deployed in the cloud, or is "cloud-based". This means that the software is accessible via a web browser on any internet-connected computer or smart device. 

There are advantages and disadvantages to both. With cloud-based software, you can estimate when you're on the go, but you might have trouble if you're at a working site without WiFi or adequate cell reception. With on-premise software, you may have more restrictions when estimating on the move, depending on whether the on-premise software is accessible to any type of mobile application. 

Top 10 Plumbing Estimating Software 

#1. Buildertrend  

Top 10 Plumbing Estimating Software Pros And Cons-bodyimage1
Courtesy: Buildertrend

Overview:

Buildertrend is a construction management system for builders, remodelers, special contractors and general contractors. It combines project planning, project management, financial management, customer management, and service management in a single suite. As a cloud-based platform, this system can be accessed online by computer or mobile device. 

Buildertrend provides pre-sale tools including integrated customer relationship management (CRM) system, bids, and proposals. Project management tools include planning, budgeting, timesheets and more. Customer management tools include change management and selection management, warranty claims and payment processing. The system also integrates with other solutions such as QuickBooks, Xero, and various specialized takeoff and estimation tools.

Platforms: 

  • Mac 
  • Windows 
  • Linux 

Deployments: Cloud 

Pricing: 

  • Free trial 
  • $299/month/3 users 
  • $39.00/month/additional user 

Pros: 

  • Daily logs and customer ability to follow their daily project progress 
  • Ability to sign projects electronically 
  • Receiving payment online with minimal fees 
  • Easy communication with everyone involved with each project 
  • User-friendly selections function 

Cons: 

  • It is a little convoluted and cumbersome for the small company 
  • Difficulties in some areas of the program, and upgrades sometimes require even more training 
  • Buildertrend Flat Rate Code can cause some problems as you can't edit 

#2. PlanSwift 

Top 10 Plumbing Estimating Software Pros And Cons-bodyimage2
Courtesy: PlanSwift

Overview:

PlanSwift provides advanced tools for takeoff and estimation. Versatile and fast, PlanSwift is using an on-screen digitization system that helps general contractors, subcontractors and estimators save time and win more bids. 

As a market leader in pre-construction project data, contractor networks, and software in North America, ConstructConnect has the largest network, strongest project data, and industry-leading takeoff and estimation software. With over 1.1 million registered users, ConstructConnect reports on more than 600,000 projects in the United States and Canada and has over 100,000 users of its take-off and estimation tools. 

Platforms: Windows

Deployments: Cloud 

Pricing: 

  • Free trial 
  • $1,195/one-time/user 
  • Single enterprise pricing plan: $1,595 
  • Licensed support and upgrade program: $200/user/annual 
  • A 3-hour 1-on-1 training program: $295/trainee 

Pros: 

  • High-level of user control for the published result of the takeoff 
  • Easy modifying a takeoff shape or color 
  • Pre-built templates provided to users can customize 

Cons: 

  • The loading time 
  • High cost (you can get cheaper with more PER installations) 
  • Not high-efficient customer service 

#3. RSMeans Data Online Software 

Top 10 Plumbing Estimating Software Pros And Cons-bodyimage3
Courtesy: RSMeans Data Online

Overview:

Established in North America, RSMeans Data Online is cloud-based access to an intuitive database of construction pricing estimation. The application details costs for materials; device and equipment; workforce; and workflow at the unit, assembly and square foot level of detail. 

The software is a piece of efficient equipment for users who execute a variety of different construction projects such as capital planning, conceptual estimates, unit and assembly estimates, cost validation, facilities maintenance, and repair. 

Platforms: 

  • Mac 
  • Windows
  • Linux 

Deployments: Cloud/On-premise 

Pricing:  

  • Free trial 
  • $230 per year/user 

Pros:

  • Amazing database of materials and labor 
  • Great Square Foot model 
  • Setting labor zip code is available 

Cons:

  • Narrowed columns 
  • Hard-to-follow layout 
  • Some revisions needed: capability to adjust the quantity in Square Foot model; ability to delete multiple line items at once; available defining more of the characteristics of a building

#4. Spectrum (formerly Dexter + Cheney) 

Top 10 Plumbing Estimating Software Pros And Cons-bodyimage4
Courtesy: Viewpoint

Overview:

Spectrum construction software is a cloud-based ERP solution for small, medium and large businesses. Key features include accounting, document management, work costs, project management, equipment management, human resources, payroll, purchases, inventory management and reporting. 

The accounting module provides general ledger, accounts payable, accounts receivable, cash management and salary features. Project management features allow users to maintain project logs including submittals, transmittals, meeting notes, RFIs, daily logs, change orders and others. It offers integration with Comdata, LCP Tracker, Textura, Prophix, FYI Soft, TopBuilder, B2W, ConEst, ProEst, QuoteSoft, Sage Estimating, Procore, FieldConnect, and others. 

Spectrum offers apps for iOS and Android devices such as time tracking, equipment management, and Plan Room. Support is offered via phone, webinars, white papers, videos, and podcasts. 

Platforms: 

  • Mac 
  • Windows
  • Linux 

Deployments: Cloud/On-premise 

Pricing: Pricing not available 

Pros 

  • Simple navigation 
  • Transparent customer support 
  • Customizable reports 

Cons 

  • If a report has been previewed/exported in a form such as pdf, it can't be immediately exported in another
  • Local income tax tables errors
  • Draw Request low experience: Not showing total schedule of values 
  • The database lacks several things that is specialty or modern technology

#5. Sage Estimating (formerly Sage Timberline Estimating) 

Top 10 Plumbing Estimating Software Pros And Cons-bodyimage5
Courtesy: Sage Estimating

Overview:

Sage Estimate is a building-based estimation software designed specifically to serve contractors and subcontractors in the construction and real estate industries. The solution provides interactive tools to build and share accurate bidding estimates for both commercial and residential plumbing and mechanical piping contractors. 

Sage Estimation Software provides a variety of takeoff methods that can be used to get individual or group item details from industry-specific databases directly into the bidding sheet. Sage estimation also helps forecast labor, raw materials, and other costs, thereby helping contractors prepare bids accurately. 

Platforms: Windows

Deployments: On-premise 

Pricing:  

  • Free trial 
  • $115/month/user 

Pros:

  • Great integration 
  • Quotation/Procurement allows users to create, email, discuss and customize one quote sheet from take-off items
  • CAD provides the material components and quantities
  • Estimate reports are virtually unlimited in terms of formatting capabilities
  • Database formulas work efficiently and warn users when something is missing
  • Parametric estimates - increase the production of an estimator without increased rework or errors

Cons:

  • Tedious program installation 
  • Slow technique support 

#6. Knowify 

Top 10 Plumbing Estimating Software Pros And Cons-bodyimage6
Courtesy: Knowify

Overview:

Found in the United States since 2012, Knowify provides construction professionals for commercial subcontractors and residential remodelers to manage their contracts, projects, invoices, adjust orders, scheduling, and purchasing. 

Syncing with QuickBooks Online, Knowify is a cloud-based all-in-one construction and cost management solution developed for residential and medium-sized commercial subcontractors: Budgets, bids, tracking and invoices all in one place. 

Platforms: 

  • Windows
  • Mac 

Deployments: Cloud 

Pricing: (billed annually) 

  • Free trial 
  • Essentials: $54 per month 
  • Plus: $68 per month 
  • Growth: $149 per month 
  • Enterprise: $264 per month 

Pros:

  • Easy mobile accessibility 
  • Great online signatures 
  • Providing well offline access 

Cons:

  • It takes a long time to enter bills because of the detailed billing module 
  • Time tracker not sync 
  • Non-editable estimate/Invoice template formats 

#7. QuoteSoft Duct & QuoteSoft Pipe 

Top 10 Plumbing Estimating Software Pros And Cons-bodyimage7
Courtesy: QuoteSoft

Overview:

QuoteSoft is a bid, estimating and takeoff management solution developed to meet the specific needs of plumbing, piping and ductwork contractors. 

It helps contractors prepare bids and run estimates, from HVAC and ductwork to piping, plumbing, and refrigeration. The solution includes a pre-build customizable material database to add labor tables. The solution also offers TakeSoft Mobile Takeoff, which allows users to submit additional lists of pipes, ductwork, and other accessories from their mobile device. The data is displayed in real-time so there are no more faxes, calls, or other error-prone ways to get data to the office. 

QuoteSoft also provides a full range of digitizers and stands that integrate perfectly with the solution. 

Platforms: Windows

Deployments: Cloud/On-premise 

Pricing:  

  • Free trial 
  • Custom pricing 

Pros:

  • Immediate tech support 
  • Allowing to provide fast and accurate bids 
  • Capability to do take-off without the need to print or have physical blueprints. 

Cons: 

  • Working on-screen only 
  • Expensive cost 
  • Key access only allows users to use the software with the physical key in hand 

#8. McCormick Estimating Software 

Top 10 Plumbing Estimating Software Pros And Cons-bodyimage8
Courtesy: McCormick Systems

Overview:

McCormick's mechanical & ductwork system estimation software was developed specifically to meet the needs of construction companies operating in the plumbing and mechanical industry. The power of the software predominates in cost management, takeoff and bid management applications provided in the form of the best solutions. For contractors who are also involved in a bit of service work, McCormick offers the best service management application. 

Platforms: Windows

Deployments: On-premise 

Pricing: Custom pricing 

Pros: 

  • Reliable customer support system 
  • Friendly and useful platform 
  • Fast takeoff speed 

Cons:

  • Running on a 32-bit system 
  • Lack of refine features in auto-count 
  • Updates performed frequently is request

#9. FastPIPE & FastDUCT 

Top 10 Plumbing Estimating Software Pros And Cons-bodyimage9
Courtesy: FastEST

Overview:

FastEST is US-based and estimated solution developers are designed specifically for plumbing, mechanical, HVAC and sheet metal contractors. 

FastPIPE and FastDUCT are two of the company's comprehensive construction cost estimation solutions. FastPIPE is designed to meet the unique needs of mechanical contractors managing both industrial and commercial work. This solution supports a variety of estimates, from plumbing to industrial process piping, HVAC piping, and insulation. FastDUCT helps businesses sign contract automation processes for HVAC management sheet contractors and industrial piping contractors. 

They maintain and update prices in their databases, which is a unique point to their competitors. 

Platforms: 

  • Mac 
  • Windows
  • Linux 

Deployments: Cloud/On-premise 

Pricing according to: 

  • Demos: free 
  • Customization - integrate with systems: from $2,500 (1-2 systems) 
  • Records: from $500 with a quantity of 1000 records 
  • Training sessions: from $500 (1-2 sessions) 

Pros: 

  • Offering in-house online and technical support 
  • Ability to install on any Windows-based platform 
  • FastDUCT reports integrate directly with FastPIPE 

Cons:

  • High cost 
  • Need of more fitting button locations 
  • No checkbox to confirm a project or a plan that has been completed

#10. Trimble Estimation (formerly ViewPoint Estimating) 

Top 10 Plumbing Estimating Software Pros And Cons-bodyimage10
Courtesy: Trimble MEP

Overview:

Trimble Estimation (formerly known as ViewPoint Estimating) is a fully-featured estimation solution that is suitable for the needs of mechanical, plumbing and HVAC contractors. Developed with capabilities designed specifically for your dealings, Trimble Estimation allows you to automate the estimating process, lower costs involved in bidding, and most importantly, to earn wages work to maximize your profits. 

This software includes Digital Takeoff, integrated pricing tools for quick access to pricing from your suppliers, technical-driven takeoff and dynamic assemblies. Trimble Estimation also includes auto-creation, in which fittings are automatically created and counted, speeding up your time and accuracy estimated. 

With the ability to connect directly to Digital Takeoff, you don't need to import or export between digital estimates and takeoffs to save you extra steps and time. 

Platforms: 

  • Mac 
  • Windows
  • Linux 

Deployments: Cloud/On-premise 

Pricing: 

  • Free trial 
  • Trimble Connect Personal: free 
  • Trimble Connect Business: $10/month 
  • Trimble Connect for Mixed Reality: $50/month 

Pros:

  • Ability to do a lot of accounting needs 
  • On-premise or cloud-hosted solution available 
  • Integrating with Viewpoint solutions, including Vista, TEAM, and Spectrum 
  • Providing many ways to manipulate the data to match users' way of estimating 

Cons:

  • Not suitable for small companies 
  • Lack of functions 
  • Poor quality in Vista transformation 

Conclusion: 

In order to grow a ductwork business, you have to stay nimble and productive. Therefore, applying hi-tech product is significantly important: It’s the arm to launch your small business. It helps to manage the progress of projects, save time and also, optimize strategy and aims. Plumbing estimating software is a great tool for creating efficient work production and getting revenue goals. 

Obviously, there's no perfect answer when it comes to compare the ten products. However, this review should give you some serious insight into. 

Let us know your favorite plumbing estimating software in the comments so that we can get a better idea of your technical needs. If you have any problems, don't hesitate to contact us. 

This article is also credited to Capterra, Software Advice

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