cost estimation software for architects

Cost estimation software for architects

The intersection of budgeting and design in architectural projects is a critical aspect that determines the success of any construction project. 

This intersection is where the creative process of designing a building meets the practical considerations of cost and budgeting. It’s the point where you as an architect must balance your creative vision with the financial constraints of the project.

For this reason, you need to be familiar with cost estimation – even though, normally, quantity surveyors and other construction managers will be using it.

Cost estimation software is a name for all specialized tools designed to help architects and other construction professionals predict, plan, and control the costs of a project. 

This type of software uses algorithms and data analysis to provide a relatively accurate estimate of all the expenses involved in a construction project.

Cost estimation software can handle a wide range of tasks, from simple spreadsheet-like calculations to complex analyses.

Top cost estimation software features to look for

Good UI

A high-quality cost estimation software should have a user-friendly interface. 

This means that the software should be easy to navigate, with clear instructions and an intuitive layout. This will allow architects to quickly and efficiently input data and generate estimates.


Customizability is another important feature. The software should allow architects to customize their estimates based on specific project requirements. This includes the ability to adjust unit costs, add markups, and create detailed cost breakdowns.

Variety of costs analyzed

Depending on which tool you use, it can factor in the costs of different materials, labor rates, equipment costs, and even the impact of inflation or changes in currency exchange rates. This allows architects to create accurate budgets, manage resources more effectively, and make informed decisions about project feasibility.


Another key feature of cost estimation software is its ability to integrate with other software systems. This can include CAD software, project management tools, and accounting systems

Once integrated with these systems, cost estimation software can pull in real-time data, improve the accuracy of its estimates and allow for real-time cost tracking and management.

Risk analysis

Cost estimation software can include features for risk analysis. They can help architects identify potential cost overruns or areas where the budget may be at risk. If you identify these risks early, you have better chances to mitigate them and keep the project on track.

Reporting and analytics

Ideally, cost estimation software should also provide insights and reports. These can include detailed breakdowns of costs, projections of future costs, and comparisons of estimated costs versus actual costs. 

These reports can help architects and other stakeholders understand where the money is going and make more informed decisions about the project.

The convenient document management module in PlanMan lets you upload these and share them with everyone involved in the project.

Top software for cost estimation


One of the top software for cost estimation is ProEst. ProEst is a cloud-based construction estimating solution that offers automated features for construction companies, helping streamline the estimation process. 

It provides a comprehensive suite of tools for cost estimation, digital takeoffs, and bid day analysis. It also integrates with various project management software, making it a versatile tool for estimating project costs.

Clear Estimates

Another noteworthy software is Clear Estimates. This user-friendly software is designed for contractors. It provides a wide array of pre-loaded templates and a parts database, which can be customized to fit specific project requirements. Its cloud-based platform allows for easy collaboration and sharing of estimates.


CostX by RIB is also a highly recommended software for cost estimation. It is specifically designed for the construction industry and offers a unique approach by allowing 2D and 3D drawing data to be used directly for estimating costs. Its ability to integrate BIM features makes it a powerful tool for architects.


STACK is another cost estimation software that architects might find useful. STACK provides real-time collaboration, which allows multiple team members to view and edit estimates simultaneously. It also offers pre-built and customizable assemblies, making estimating costs for the most common building components easier.


Lastly, there’s PlanSwift, a popular on-screen digitizing software. PlanSwift allows users to import digital plans and perform takeoffs to estimate costs. It’s known for its user-friendly interface and robust features, including adjusting costs based on local labour and material rates.

Accuracy in cost estimation

Accuracy is paramount in cost estimation, as underestimations can lead to budget overruns, while overestimations can result in lost bids. 

You can enhance accuracy through several strategies.

  • Use up-to-date data. The cost of materials, labour, and equipment can fluctuate over time due to inflation, market demand, and supply chain disruptions. Therefore, regularly updating the cost data in estimates can significantly enhance accuracy.
  • Incorporate contingency planning into cost estimates. No matter how thorough an estimate is, unforeseen circumstances can always impact costs. By including a contingency allowance, architects can account for these unexpected costs and enhance the accuracy of their estimates.
  • Regularly reviewing past estimates and comparing them with actual project costs, architects can identify areas where their estimates tend to be off and make necessary adjustments. This continuous improvement process can lead to increasingly accurate cost estimates over time.

Project management software in cost estimation

Project management software like PlanMan plays a pivotal role in architectural cost estimation because it provides a centralized platform for managing all aspects of a project.

This includes the ability to track and control cost-related documents in real-time and communicating effectively to all stakeholders (such as clients, contractors, and suppliers, to ensure everyone is on the same page) through one unified channel. 

You can add quantity surveyors and other cost estimation professionals as co-consultants. Quantity surveyors play a pivotal role in architectural cost estimation. They are responsible for managing all aspects of the contractual and financial side of construction projects. Please check out our recent post on working with quantity surveyors.

This transparency will help to avoid misunderstandings and disputes over costs.

If you want to grow as a professional and make your work more organized, sign up for the free trial today and see how intuitive and straightforward PlanMan is!