Landscape Estimation Software Buying Guide

Excessively high bid prices may lead to losing a project to another professional, while overly low bids can reduce profits. Overestimating materials can lead to unnecessary purchases, which become wasted expenses if the materials cannot be used on another project.

In this landscape estimating software buying guide, we will explore the meaning of landscape estimating software, standard features, and types and choose the most suitable for your business.

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What are estimations and takeoffs?

In landscaping, estimations and takeoffs are crucial to assess the materials, costs, and quantities required for a landscaping project. Let’s look at the meaning of each term.

1. Estimations in Landscaping:

  •  Estimations involve predicting the various costs associated with a landscaping project. This includes materials, labour, equipment, and any other expenses.
  • Estimations also encompass determining the quantities and types of materials required for the project, such as plants, soil, mulch, stones, and irrigation equipment.
  • Estimating labour costs involves calculating the labour hours needed for planting, excavation, hardscaping, and maintenance.
  • Estimations are vital for budgeting and project planning, helping landscapers and clients understand the financial aspects of the project.

2. Takeoffs in Landscaping:

  •  Takeoffs are quantifying the materials or components needed for a landscaping project. This can be for everything from the number of plants to the volume of soil or gravel required.
  •  In landscaping takeoffs, professionals measure and calculate precise quantities to ensure that there is neither a shortage nor an excess of materials.
  •  Takeoffs are typically done using blueprints, site surveys, and other project documentation to determine the exact dimensions and specifications of the landscaping elements.
  •  Accurate takeoffs are crucial to ordering the right quantities of materials, minimizing waste, and ensuring the project proceeds smoothly.
Attentive ai aerial takeoffs landscaping

Together, estimations and takeoffs in landscaping enable contractors, designers, and clients to plan and execute landscaping projects efficiently, within budget, and with minimal material wastage.

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Example of estimating a landscaping job

Example to illustrate the process of the total price for a landscaping project. You are estimating the cost of landscaping a garden. Here are the details:

– Overhead Cost (10% of direct costs): $1,000

– Materials Costs:

  – 100 shrubs at $20 each: $2,000

  – 500 square feet of sod at $1 per square foot: $500

  – 10 bags of mulch at $5 each: $50

– Subcontractor Cost: $3,500

– Labor Costs (300 hours at $15 per hour): $4,500

– Markup (15%): $1,325

Now, calculate the total price:

– Total Price = Overhead + Materials + Subcontractor + Labor + Markup

– Total Price = $1,000 + $2,000 + $500 + $3,500 + $4,500 + $1,325

– Total Price = $12,825

So, the total price for this landscaping project is $12,825. This example demonstrates the steps involved in estimating and calculating the total price for a landscaping project.

Also Read: Best Landscaping Estimation Software for Businesses

Why is it important for you as a professional?

Understanding the financial side of your landscaping business is critical. It starts with budgeting and setting goals. But winning projects is where it counts. To do that, you need to know how to price a job and understand your costs.

Whether you give estimates or quotes, you must get your numbers right. Estimates are ballpark figures, while quotes are the exact amount the client pays. We stick to our quotes unless there are unexpected issues.

If you forget something in your quote, it’s on you, not the client. Change orders only come into play if the client asks for extras or approves upgrades.

Critical considerations for pricing a job as a contractor:

1. Calculate your direct costs, which include materials, labor, and subcontractor expenses. These are typically straightforward to determine because you know their costs. Estimate the quantities you’ll need and add them up.

2. Determine your overhead costs and the expenses required to run your business. This includes insurance, utilities, vehicle expenses, fuel, and even the owner’s salary. Your job proposal should account for direct and indirect costs (overhead) to ensure your business remains sustainable.

3. Decide on the profit margin you desire. Make sure not to confuse your take-home pay as the owner with profit. Your salary is an expense of the business. Profit profit, or “net” profit, remains after covering direct costs, overhead, and depreciation expenses. In other words, it’s what’s left once all the bills are paid. Gross profit, on the other hand, is what’s left after covering direct expenses but before deducting overhead costs.

Manual estimation & the rise of “estimation software”

Before the digital era, estimators used manual tools like scales, coloured pencils, and calculators. With the rise of personal computers, electronic spreadsheets and complex formulas replaced calculators. Many landscapers still manually inspect printed plans to assess material needs for irrigation, trees, shrubs, etc. Irregular shapes, common in flower beds and rock gardens, made manual area calculations time-consuming.

While some estimators persist with manual processes, they are labour-intensive. Landscape businesses investing in these methods could benefit from digital Takeoff and Estimating (TOE) applications. These tools can significantly enhance estimation productivity, helping companies submit more accurate bids in less time, leading to more lucrative opportunities.

Planswift landscape construction estimate

What is landscape estimating software?

Landscape estimating software is specialized computer software designed for individuals in the landscaping and construction field. 

It assists landscape contractors and designers in precisely calculate the expenses of different landscaping projects.

Landscaping experts utilize this software to facilitate the estimation of project costs, aiming to submit accurate bids. Estimating software streamlines tasks through databases, reducing costs and ensuring no crucial information is overlooked.

The cost of estimating software varies depending on the provider and features offered. However, investing in quality estimating software can result in cost savings by enhancing the accuracy of bids, thus minimizing unexpected expenses and overruns. It also helps contractors enhance their overall bidding process.

Also Read: Best Landscaping Estimation Software for Businesses

How to choose landscape takeoff software

Selecting the Right Landscape Takeoff Software

When it comes to choosing the ideal landscape takeoff software for your business, there are several key considerations to keep in mind. These tools can significantly streamline the process of calculating project costs and submitting bids. To ensure you make the right choice, here are some crucial factors to assess.

1. User-Friendly Interface

Ease of use is paramount. Look for software with an intuitive, visually appealing interface that requires minimal support or tutorials for your team to navigate. Efficiently importing blueprint images and creating cost sheets should be a straightforward process, enabling you to create accurate bids with ease.

2. Efficient Estimation

A robust software solution should offer features like instant material takeoffs and the ability to adjust item costs for speculative estimates. Consider the range of estimating tools available, including the capacity to merge multiple bids into a single estimate. Opt for a program that allows you to generate estimates using editable uploaded blueprints.

3. Integration with Project Management

After winning a bid and commencing work, it’s essential to track costs during construction. Integrating your takeoff software with project management tools can help keep expenses in line with the original estimate, allowing you to monitor materials and stay alerted to any cost overruns.

4. Availability of Support

Even with user-friendly software, construction takeoff tools can be complex. Ensure that tutorial materials and 24/7 support via phone or live chat are readily available. Some companies offer extensive training resources, including remote seminars or in-person classes.

5. Compatibility with Excel and QuickBooks

Check if the software seamlessly integrates with business software like Excel and QuickBooks. This is particularly important if you rely on spreadsheets for estimating. Easy file import and compatibility are crucial for a smooth workflow.

6. Post-Bid Project Management

An ideal software solution should act as a centralized repository for all project-related documents. This allows the entire team to stay updated on changes, modifications, and new plan pages. Collaboration is enhanced through features like note placement on pages.

7. Cross-Device Accessibility

Ensure that the selected software is compatible with various devices, allowing your staff to work on tablets or smartphones with equal ease. This flexibility enables efficient collaboration among team members.

Ultimately, the choice of landscape takeoff software must align with your specific business needs. Landscaping companies can also explore the option of outsourcing estimating services to companies using software like Plan Swift. This can save time, reduce software costs, and enhance accuracy, ensuring a seamless bidding and project management process.

Features to die(buy) for!

Standard features and functions found in landscape estimating software are:

1. Cost Calculation: These tools aid in computing the expenses related to materials, labour, equipment, and other necessary resources for landscaping projects.

2. Project Planning: Users can create comprehensive project plans encompassing measurements, designs, and specifications, which are vital for precise estimations.

3. Materials Database: Often, these software packages come with extensive material databases, complete with current market prices, simplifying the selection and costing of materials.

4. Labor Expenses: They can account for labour costs, encompassing wages, work hours, and specialized skills needed for specific tasks.

5. Customizable Templates: Users can frequently craft and save templates for common project types, streamlining the estimation process.

6. Reporting: Generate professional estimates, quotes, and reports that can be easily shared with clients.

7. Integration: Some landscape estimating software seamlessly integrates with other business management tools, such as accounting software, project management systems, and CRM platforms.

8. Cost Tracking: Once a project is underway, these tools can be used to monitor actual costs compared to estimated costs, ensuring adherence to the budget.

9. Visual Tools: In some cases, the software may incorporate design and visualization features, enhancing clients’ understanding of the proposed landscaping project. 

Lmn software

Types of Estimating Software

There are several types of landscape estimating software available, each meeting different needs within the landscaping industry. 

Here are some common types:

1. Basic Estimating Software: These are straightforward tools for cost calculations and project planning, ideal for smaller landscaping businesses with simple projects. An example is LMN (Landscape Management Network).

2. Advanced Estimating Software: This estimating software offers extensive features, including material and labour cost databases and integration options, suited for larger landscaping companies with complex projects. Examples are DynaSCAPE, STACK, DeepLawn, Active Takeoff,  Planswift e.t.c

3. 3D Design and Estimating Software: These tools not only estimate costs but also allow 3D design and visualization of landscaping projects, helpful in presenting proposals. PRO Landscape by Drafix is an example.

4. Online Estimating Software: These cloud-based solutions provide estimating tools accessible from anywhere with an internet connection. Jobber, primarily a field service management software, offers online estimating and quoting features; another notable example is SatQuote. 

5. Integrated Landscaping Software: Some software suites combine estimating with project management, CRM, and accounting, offering all-in-one solutions for landscaping businesses. Examples are  QuickBooks Online, Service Fusion, SingleOps, Plexxis, etc.

6. Mobile Estimating Apps: These apps enable landscapers to create estimates, take measurements, and manage projects directly from smartphones or tablets. Examples are iScape and GoiLawn.

7. Specialized Estimating Software: Niche solutions cater to specific landscaping subfields, like hardscaping or irrigation. An example is Rain Bird ESP-ME3, specializing in irrigation estimating, SiteRecon, etc.

8. Custom Estimating Software: Larger landscaping firms may choose custom-built estimating tools tailored to their specific workflows and needs.

Also Read: Best Landscaping Estimation Software for Businesses

Factors to consider when choosing Estimation Software

When it comes to choosing the right landscape estimation software, there are several important factors to keep in mind:

1. Features and Capabilities:It’s crucial to look for software that offers the essential features your landscaping business needs, like project cost estimation, materials tracking, labour management, and generating client proposals. Start by making a list of these specific requirements.

2. User-Friendliness: The software should be easy to use with an intuitive interface. You and your team should be able to learn and navigate it without a steep learning curve quickly.

3. Customization:Find software that allows you to personalize your estimates and proposals with your branding, logo, and the specific services or products you offer.

4. Integration:Check if the software can smoothly integrate with other tools you use, such as accounting software or project management platforms. Seamless integration can significantly improve your workflow.

5. Cost: Keep your budget in mind and consider the pricing structure of the software. Some options have a one-time purchase fee, while others charge monthly or annually—also, factor in any additional costs like training or support.

6. Mobile Accessibility:Since you’ll often be in the field, accessing your estimation software on mobile devices is crucial. Make sure the software either has a mobile app or is mobile-responsive.

7. Customer Support:Reliable customer support is a must. Look into the software company’s reputation for providing timely assistance when needed.

8. Reviews and Recommendations:Don’t forget to read reviews from other landscapers or businesses in your industry. Seek recommendations from peers to gain insights into what works best for them.

9. Trial Period:Many software options offer a free trial. Take advantage of this to test the software’s suitability for your business needs before committing.

10. Scalability:Think about your future growth. Will the software be able to accommodate a growing team and client base?

11. Security:Ensure the software adheres to industry-standard security practices to safeguard your data.

12. Updates and Maintenance:Check how often the software receives updates and whether these updates are included in the pricing.

13. Training and Resources:Assess the availability of training materials, tutorials, and documentation to help you and your team make the most of the software.

14. User Feedback: Gather feedback from your team members who will be using the software daily to understand their preferences and requirements.

15. Compliance:Verify that the software complies with industry-specific regulations or standards relevant to your landscaping business.

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By thoughtfully considering these factors and comparing various estimation software options, you’ll be able to choose the one that best aligns with the specific needs and goals of your landscaping business.

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