Construction estimate templates are used as a way to approximate the cost of a project. Estimate templates are used in different ways and what’s included in the estimate will depend on the type of project. For example, general contractors and subcontractors have specific estimate templates they use for residential or commercial projects and construction firms have specific templates used in commercial and building projects. Estimates are also used in the bid process for selecting who is awarded the project business.
At a very high level, estimates are created by construction companies to deliver to the client so that all parties can sign and agree to what the approximate cost could be.
Typically an invoice, bill, or quote would be used when giving the actual cost, whereas an estimate just accounts for what the expected cost would be given the scope of work. Of course, the estimate can not account for all of the hidden costs that arise – so the actual cost of the project is different than the estimate.
Getting an accurate estimate is critical for construction companies to set reasonable expectations and gain the confidence of the owner or customer. That’s why many companies are starting to leverage digital technologies to streamline the process for estimates.
Software platforms can provide digital forms that simplify the estimate process for everyone involved and provide free templates that can be used to get started. Continue reading to learn more about digital templates for estimates and how construction firms and contractors can benefit from modernizing their operations.
How do you write a construction estimate?
Estimates are used by construction companies and contractors for various purposes and at different stages of projects. While there are many types of estimates that exist, most estimates will include some basic information about the project.
Here are some of the common form fields that you might use on a construction estimate template:
- Basic project information. Examples include things like company name, client name and information, type of project, estimate number, and more.
- Scope of work. Description of the work to be performed and setting expectations on what is included within the scope of work.
- Cost estimates. Detailed line items for material costs, expected labor costs, additional fees or permits, and any other relevant details related to the expected project costs.
- Summarized cost. Total of materials, labor, and additional costs as a summarized view including taxes and the total project cost. Be sure to also factor in profit and overhead costs in your calculations.
- Signatures. Estimates are designed to be signed by both the company representative and the client involved, so signatures are required to ensure an agreement has been reached on the estimate for the project.
Templates should provide a basic framework for what to include in the estimate, but ultimately they should be customizable to suit your specific project needs. Starting from a template can be useful to bring in standard calculations, but you will likely need to customize the template to fit your needs.
Why You Should Avoid Excel, Word, and Google Sheets for Free Estimate Templates
There are many options for free construction estimate templates available for Excel, Word, or Google Sheets. Although these options are free to use, there are many hidden costs and risks involved when using spreadsheets or word documents. Here are some things to consider:
Risk #1: Human Error
When working with any of the free tools like excel spreadsheets, Google Sheets, or Word documents, there is a very real risk of human error. Research actually shows that almost 90% of all spreadsheets contain errors.
Using these free tools for construction or contractor estimates can lead to errors unknowingly ending up in the spreadsheet. For example, you may accidentally mistype the formula for calculating labor cost and not notice that the final calculation is wrong.
With a spreadsheet or document, there’s really no way to ensure that human error doesn’t happen and they can often be hard to find.
The hidden cost: When we’re talking about an estimate given to a client for work to be performed, there is no room for error. This can lead to an inaccurate estimate that takes away from your profit or cause frustration from the client that the initial estimate was inaccurate and now over budget.
Risk #2: Lost Work
The second common risk involved with excel spreadsheets, Google Sheets, or Word documents is the risk of lost work. This happens many times by accident when a computer crashes and the document isn’t saved, or similar cases where the data gets lost or deleted by mistake.
The hidden cost: Your business can’t afford to lose important documents. In case of an audit or dispute, you need the information to be readily available. Additionally, re-work is often needed when work is lost by accident, creating additional time spent by staff to re-create the lost paperwork.
Risk #3: Version Control Issues
One of the biggest challenges with using free tools like Excel or Word documents is the potential for version control issues. If you have multiple versions of the same document being used, it can be difficult to keep track of the latest version.
This becomes more of an issue when you have multiple people or subcontractors that need to collaborate on the same document. It becomes difficult to manage the different versions of each Excel file and make changes to the documents over time.
The hidden cost: Your business can’t afford to lose productivity when it comes to managing estimates and other forms of paperwork. While it may seem like a simple solution to use free tools like Excel and Word, they can also drain staff time by creating additional busy work to manage the documents and issues with multiple versions.
Software and Forms for Construction Estimates
With all the risks and hidden costs associated with some of the free tools available for construction estimates, many companies are moving their operations to using software and forms that are designed specifically for construction and contractor estimates.
These types of platforms provide estimate templates for construction firms and contractors to use. Instead of using a paper form or a word document to generate a PDF, companies are turning these into digital forms that can be completed from a computer, mobile device, or tablet.
Digitizing construction estimates can bring a number of benefits to an organization, including:
Secure Cloud Platform for Estimates. Using software and mobile forms for estimates can help contractors and construction firms create a secure and centralized platform for managing digital forms. Leverage templates and store estimates in the cloud so that your team can review and update them anytime, anywhere. This helps to limit risk, create accurate estimates, and streamline the process for everyone involved.
Automatic Calculations. You can automatically calculate materials and labor costs using software and forms for estimates. Contractor and construction estimates can be quite complex in terms of the different calculations involved. Pre-build the calculations and ensure that they are always accurate so that all you need to do is input fields and have the calculations performed by a computer program.
Digital Signatures. With digital signatures available for estimates, simplify the process for the client by giving them a digital PDF and digital signature field to complete from anywhere. Streamline the process even further by sending them a copy automatically via email to retain for their records.
Image Capture. For contractors, it can be helpful to provide an image as part of the estimate process. Software and mobile forms allow contractors to capture images and attach them to the estimate, clarifying the work to be performed and providing an additional level of detail within the estimate.
Reference Data. Auto-populate data like material costs and labor to reduce manual input time and eliminate errors. This data can be dynamically pulled from any database, ensuring that you have the most up-to-date information for estimating. Should costs change in the future due to inflation, this information can be pulled in automatically so estimates account for current prices and jobs are estimated accurately.
Modernizing your processes for estimates can simplify the process for staff and clients. This helps to ensure that estimates are accurate and profits are maximized by avoiding the common pitfalls that happen with free tools like Excel, Word Documents, or paper sheets. The next section covers free templates you can use to get started with GoCanvas for estimates.
GoCanvas is a mobile platform that makes it simple for businesses to automate how work is done, replacing outdated processes and expensive paperwork. The GoCanvas App works on smartphones and tablets, helping companies easily collect information across their organization, share it instantly with others, and gain real-time insight into their business. Construction firms and contractors rely on GoCanvas to streamline their processes for estimates, work orders, inspections, and much more.
Free Templates for Construction Estimates
GoCanvas has many types of estimate templates for contractors and construction firms. Simply choose from one of the templates listed below or check out our application store for a full list of customizable templates you can use to get started for free.
Basic Estimate Template
The basic estimate template provided by GoCanvas allows you to create a professional-looking estimate that includes labor, material, and equipment costs. No job is too big or too small. Provide transparent estimates that allow the customer to see the full breakdown of costs, including: hours of work and cost per hour; number of materials units and cost per unit; fixed costs; tax rates; and more.
Subcontractor Estimate Template
Subcontractor Estimate template allows project managers, general contractors, and subcontractors to complete a paperless construction subcontractor estimate for subcontracted services, labor, and construction subcontractor work, using a smartphone or tablet to complete a competitive bid and construction proposal. The app also allows construction subcontractors to act as a material supplier and include construction industry materials in the construction proposal.
Start with this simple handyman job bid template, including job specifications and estimated costs, and email the estimate to the customer before leaving the site. Include all the required legalese to protect you and your company and collect everything you need right from your smartphone.
General Building Contractors Estimate Template
The General Building Contractors Estimate is a template that allows general contractors to produce estimates for construction projects right then and there on the job site. Enter specifications such as customer details, materials needed, labor hours, unit rates, and material costs, and the app will provide the total work estimate calculations for you.
Roofing Contractors Estimate Sheet
Designed for any contractor or business that provides roof repair, this roofing contractors template makes it easy to estimate the cost of the service, which may include materials and labor costs, warranty information, and square footage of the area to be repaired. It’s easy to customize the Roofing Contractors Estimate templates to include the type of roof being serviced, which could be a flat roof, asphalt roof, shingle roof, or one made of slate or wood shake. You can also create fields that will affect the price, such as roof slope and pitch, or the extent of leak damage. Once all the information is entered, this app uses a calculator to provide a free estimate quote in a PDF format. This roof cost estimate may be emailed directly to the customer, who may use it in an insurance claim.
Painting Estimate Template
Painting companies can customize the estimate template form to include the square footage of the areas to be painted, a list of services to be performed by the painting contractors, estimated gallons of paint to be used, specialty materials needed, labor, and other details for the customer. The business can also add more specific details about the job as needed, including paint colors to be used and the number of coats to be applied.
Remodeling Subcontractor Estimate Template
The Remodeling Subcontractor Estimate template allows project managers, general contractors and subcontractors to complete a paperless remodeling subcontractor estimate for subcontracted services, labor and remodeling subcontractor work, using a smartphone or tablet to complete a competitive bid and construction proposal.
Electrical Contractors Estimate Template
The Electrical Contractors Estimate template makes it easy to provide free estimates for electrical work while in the field. Use this form to process the client’s contact information, details about the materials required, labor rates, final costs, and additional information. This reporting app automatically calculates job costs for you, making it easy to determine the final estimate, get customer approval and begin work. Save time on each electrical services estimate, get to work faster and complete more jobs over time with this handy app for residential contractors, licensed electricians and electrical contracting companies.