Article Date: 10/11/2013

Spreadsheet Tools or Specialized/Homegrown Software: What Makes the Most Sense for Construction Estimating?

By Steve Rizer


For construction estimating, is it best to rely on a spreadsheet tool, or does it make sense to invest in either customized software or software that is specifically designed for the construction industry? Overall, the industry is divided on this front. The results of a recent Software Advice survey show a near-even split between respondents using specialized/homegrown software and those who use MicroSoft Excel or comparable spreadsheet tools for their construction estimating, but how well is the software meeting their respective needs?


Respondents using specialized/homegrown construction estimating software reported higher ratings, in terms of how well their software has met their needs, than did spreadsheet users, regardless of the size of their companies, according to Software Advice. However, both medium companies (those with annual revenue of $1-5 million) and large companies (those whose annual revenue exceeds $5 million) reported higher ratings for how well their specialized/homegrown software was meeting their needs than what companies whose annual revenue does not reach $1 million reported.


Survey results suggest that these smaller companies, overall, are less satisfied with construction estimating software than their larger counterparts because they are not bidding on the same volume or complexity of jobs that larger companies bid on. In some cases, the functionality in construction estimating software exceeds what a small company needs, possibly making such a company less efficient and therefore less satisfied with the fit of its system, according to Software Advice, an Austin, Texas-based company ( whose stated mission is to “help software buyers buy the right software.”


The survey also yielded the following other results:

  • Almost four in five users of construction estimating software reported that they “very rarely” or “somewhat rarely” underestimate bids. For spreadsheet users, that share totaled 76 percent.
  • “Construction estimating software users expressed the highest satisfaction with the onscreen takeoff, cost calculator, and subcontractor bidding functionality of their software. They also reported high satisfaction levels with the cost database of their software.”
  • More general contractors (43) were represented in the survey than any other group. Representatives of organizations specializing in residential remodeling, mechanical/HVAC, electrical/teledata, construction managers, earthwork/excavating, design-build, heavy/highway contractors, homebuilders – custom, engineers, utility contractors, roofing and siding, plumbing, finishing contractors, architects, concrete, and other areas accounted for the remainder of the survey population.

To access all of the survey results, visit To access ConstructionPro Week’s article on the results from last year’s comparable survey, click here.



Purchase a Subscription
with a money-back guarantee
and immediate access


Buy This Item Individually
Price: $20.00

Already a member?



WPL Publishing - 5750 Bou Avenue #1712 - Rockville, MD 20852

Phone: (301)765-9525  -  Fax: (301)983-4367

All Content and Design Copyright © 2022 WPL Publishing
About Us

Contact Us

Privacy Policy

My Account