I am not familiar with the programs you mentioned, but here is my 2 cents. What you choose should be a good match for your business – how detailed you like to be, how much control you want over the method and assumptions used by your bidding program. In our case, we use 2 programs. The first --for new construction – is based number of “openings” in the plan. You just count the number of lights, plugs, switches, etc. and it uses a set of factors to estimate man hours and materials. Based on that, it computes an estimated cost for the job. You then can apply a profit target and you have your bid. Nothing wrong with that approach for small to mid size tract homes, but you need to be confident that the factors it uses to estimate labor and materials are realistic for your operation. It usually does not work well for custom homes since there are usually a lot of changes and add on extras. The second program we use if for Service and Remodel jobs. Here you look at the job and estimate how much labor and specific materials you will use for each part of the job. The program then calculates the estimate based on the prices of materials used and labor rates you need to charge to make a profit.
Hope this helps… VinceR
#157377 - 11/02/0508:25 PMRe: Your opinion: Estimating Software
I use Electrical Bid Manager by Vision. I've been using it so long I could not imagine going back to "yellow tablets" or "spread sheets". All of the programs you listed are good programs. The deciding factor for me was the price. These programs can be custom talored to fit your business. In fact they must be. They usually come with a pricing database. The only advantage to this is you are able to import any part made into your estimating software. The pricing given on the material I found to be highly inaccurate for my area. You can create your own custom assembly's specific to the type of work you do. Everything you enter is broken out on spread sheets for you to check for errors.
If you can't tell I wouldnt bid any other way. These programs are highly accurate and leave little to chance. There is to much fear when bidding large projects these programs make me feel better at bid time.
#157378 - 11/02/0509:29 PMRe: Your opinion: Estimating Software
I've been using Electrical Bid Manager by Visions as well. Have so for 7 years now. Actually the comapany I just left stepped up and bought their newest and greatest version Bid manager 2000. I tried it a few times and went back to the old bid manager. When we first shopped for a computer estimating program I demo'ed just about every one you mentioned. They all seemed great but the cost were so much higher, and all the extras features only left room for mistakes. I have customized the program to my taste, and now am completely confident in any bid I do. I have found the labor units provided with the program do not work well in Resid. construction. But we do mostly commercial work. We recently finished a 4 year renovation project with a $1.3 million contract I took off on visions. I myself was shocked when a ran a finsihed job cost report and only missed the actual labor by less than 40 hours.
#157379 - 11/30/0502:53 PMRe: Your opinion: Estimating Software