Struggling to create a cost estimate for a construction project? Here are eight templates that can make the job easier!
Going over budget on a construction project can immediately wipe out your profits and put you in the red. Though inflation can creep in at any stage of a project, inaccurate estimates at the beginning will act like wedges continuously expanding a project’s budget through its life cycle.
So, it’s critical that you get estimates right at the beginning to avoid problems later. To create professional cost estimates, you can use construction management software with cost estimation functions.
But sometimes, all you need is a simple document that gives your clients and team a clear snapshot of your project. Fortunately, there are plenty of free construction estimate templates available online.
How to use a free construction estimate template
You need a template that is easy-to-use to put together an accurate estimate. Things such as database price updating, charts, and other tools software can offer are important, but the initial basic estimate sheet doesn’t require complex software.
Once you’ve chosen from the template options below, take a look at the following step-by-step list for coming up with a good estimate using a method called unit costing:
- Compile all the line items (assemblies) for the job
- Attach a unit cost to each line item
- Total your numbers and have them checked by a qualified second party
- Apply your standard markup to get a final price
Beware of potential pitfalls before you begin, however, such as failing to read all relevant project documents or forgetting to input an expense. Check and recheck your work.
With those caveats out of the way, which templates will help you handle the basic tasks of coming up with an estimate? We’ve reviewed a number of free templates and chosen the following eight options that can meet a variety of construction estimating needs.
The Best 8 Free Estimate Templates for Construction
1. Construction work estimate template
Work estimate template (Source)
This template works if you have a simple job and need a basic outline of what it’s going to involve. The template, from Template.net, features a construction work description section to describe the project in two or three sentences. Then there are single lines for how much the entire job will cost and who is doing the estimating.
Obviously, there isn’t much here in the way of detail or accountability, so this is suitable only for a straightforward and relatively inexpensive job that doesn’t require a lot of cost breakdowns.
2. Construction proposal contract template
Proposal contract template (Source)
Subcontractors and suppliers can use this basic template to provide a quick snapshot of what their work will cost. The template doesn’t calculate totals for you, so you’ll need to determine the totals manually.
The template enables you to briefly describe the basics of your construction project and what it will cost to complete it for the client. It won’t allow you to include an extremely detailed breakdown of the project, but it will work if you need to help your client understand only the basics.
The template also functions as a contract with the client, with a spot at the bottom to sign and date, as well as additional space to provide a special notice to the owner.
3. Work quote template
Work quote template (Source)
A work quote template takes estimating a step further by including automatic calculations of not only labor and materials but also discounts and tax (if any).
Similar to the two above, you can use this template to describe details such as labor and materials required to complete a project. It also serves as a legally binding document once accepted by the client, with the provision to expire agreed upon rates/terms after a certain period (e.g., project extension).
4. Soft versus hard costs template
Soft versus hard costs template (Source)
This template is useful when clients ask for a detailed breakdown of the estimate. It splits up soft costs (accounting fees, insurance, legal fees, permits, etc.) and hard costs (equipment costs, labor, etc.), which lets clients view the exact project expenses with no surprises when they get the final invoice.
You can use this template to offer clients clarity into nontypical costs that could arise, such as LEED certification costs.
5. Estimating and budgeting template
Estimating and budgeting template (Source)
This free spreadsheet from BuildingAdvisor can be downloaded in either Excel or Word, and it lets you document cost estimates versus the actual costs, as well as payments and balances due. This template lets you track how your estimate does throughout the course of a construction project.
The template offers the following features, according to BuildingAdvisor:
- Checklist for budgeting.
- Checklist for estimating.
- Tracking estimated versus actual costs for each line item (called “job costing”)
- Tracking payments and amount due to all vendors and subcontractors
You can use the template as is for free, but in order to edit and customize the worksheet, you’d need to pay for the premium version, which is $9.95.
6. Construction budget template
Budget template (Source)
SmartSheet provides this template, which enables you to break out the cost data in terms of hours, rates, units, cost per unit, fixed cost, and so on. It also allows you to compare your budgeted cost to your actual cost, which is helpful when conducting similar projects in the future.
This spreadsheet is primarily for building and remodeling projects, allowing you to create a more comprehensive budget for a construction project. The spreadsheet also does the calculations for you.
You can get this template for free using SmartSheet’s 30-day free trial for new users.
7. Bid tabulation template
Bid tabulation template (Source)
Another SmartSheet template helps you organize the many bid items that make up the final bid amount and then compare them between different contractors and the engineer’s estimate.
Many construction projects have hundreds of bid items, so it’s not uncommon to see errors when the amounts are added together manually. This bid tabulation template can verify the final bid amount is correct. It also has a column for an engineer’s estimate to compare to the budgeted amount.
8. Construction estimate template
Estimate template (Source)
Also from Template.net, this template is essentially a spreadsheet of all the other costs that come with a construction project besides materials, such as building permits, warranty insurance, and fees.
When you’re working with a client, it’s important to inform them of these costs so they understand everything that goes into a project and aren’t surprised when they get the bill.
What other free construction estimate templates are out there?
This report only lists a handful of the available free construction estimate templates. Putting together a simple estimate does not need to be complicated, but there are undoubtedly many different templates for different types of construction projects.
Is there a free template that has been helpful for you? Have you created some of your own? Please let us know in the comments below.
Looking for Construction Management software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Construction Management software solutions.