5 Free Construction Estimate Templates that General Contractors Need to Know



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Creating estimates from scratch is tedious and time-consuming, to say the least, and in the eyes of a good contractor, any time saved is worth its weight in gold. Estimators have to contend with various competing deadlines, especially when multiple bids need to be fulfilled - that’s where having a suite of on-hand estimate templates comes in handy.

In this article, we’ve compiled the most commonly used estimate templates available with links to the download source. The estimate templates listed here are fully-customizable, and accessible through Excel or Google Sheets which makes them easy to incorporate into existing preconstruction workflows.

What is a Construction Estimate?

Construction cost estimating is the process of forecasting the potential budget required for a construction project based on the following factors:

  • Materials
  • Labor
  • Equipment
  • Subcontractor Pricing
  • Risk Management 
  • Overhead Costs
  • Profit Margin
  • Miscellaneous Fees

At the core of the estimate is the material takeoff which measures all the material quantities based on the scope of work. Estimated costs based on known market prices are then assigned to every single item on the takeoff to produce a final price tag for each one.

Accurate and timely estimates are one of the most critical components of any preconstruction service. Estimates give clients an idea of the potential costs that a project can incur, and this is particularly important for decision-makers that need to decide whether to proceed with a project or not. Project owners also use the estimate for budget allocation and financing approval.

Finally, performing a well-calculated estimate for a construction project is one way of ensuring you stay within budget.

Why General Contractors Need an Estimate Template

Creating a construction estimating spreadsheet from scratch is time-consuming because you’ll have to make a new one for different estimating requirements. Typical estimates include a work description, a list of products and services, an overall price, payment terms, and a validity period.

Construction estimating spreadsheets help break down the total cost by itemizing materials and labor along with the other required fees. It enables contractors to efficiently provide presentable and professional-looking estimate documents.

Savvy estimators use customizable and pre-calculated templates, eliminating the need to manually create formulas and link them together every time it is needed.

Estimate templates make it easier for you to:

  • Look professional 
  • Produce automated calculations
  • Save time
  • Stay organized
  • Avoid costly missed details
  • Find areas for cost optimization

Free Construction Estimate Templates For General Contractors

If you’re struggling to create an estimate or simply looking for inspiration, our list of free construction estimate templates for general contractors is definitely for you. Each option within this list is fully customizable, and all you have to do is fill in the blanks to begin.

We’ve compiled a list of free construction cost templates that can be done in Excel or Google Sheets. Read on to see the commonly used estimating templates that general contractors use.
As a reminder, always make sure to double-check the scope of work and attend pre-bid meetings to make sure that you abide by the project’s specifications. 

Basic Construction Estimate Template

Basic construction estimate templates provide the bare minimum of information and are useful for smaller jobs or ad-hoc estimate jobs. Its simplicity makes it very versatile, but you can make it your own by customizing the fields or adding new sections.

It features a simple layout with sections for essential details: client contact information, work description, itemized costs, and an estimated total, including taxes and fees. 

Construction Estimate Template
Courtesy of SmartSheet 

Download the template here: https://www.smartsheet.com/sites/default/files/2020-11/IC-Simple-Construction-Estimate-10964.xlsx

Commercial Construction Estimate Template

Spreadsheets like this example from leading construction consultant Shawn McCadden can help prevent missed fees that could otherwise put contractors in negative profit territory. This commercial construction estimate template is best suited for large projects where a more detailed approach is required. Estimators will find this spreadsheet handy because it lays out all the important details required in submitting a construction cost breakdown. 

A great feature of this template is it also includes a useful section for calculating your profit margins and all the other fees you need to cover.

Project Estimate Sheet
Courtesy of Shawn McCadden 

Request the template through this link: https://www.shawnmccadden.com/request-shawns-excel-estimating-template

Subcontractor Bid Tabulation Template

Bid tabulation templates are used by project owners to cross-check and vet received bids against their estimate, but this template can also be used for vetting subcontractor bids that general contractors outsource. Simply edit the column headers to customize the document to suit your needs. This way you can keep track of all subcontractor prices in order to simplify the selection process.
This template works well because it effectively organizes all the items in one section against multiple columns where subcontractor pricing can fit in. 

Bid Tabulation Template
Courtesy of SmartSheet 

Download link here: https://www.smartsheet.com/sites/default/files/2021-07/IC-Bid-Tabulation-8531.xlsx

Soft vs. Hard Costs Template

Some clients prefer to view their potential costs through a detailed budget sheet that separates hard costs from soft costs. Hard costs refer to the tangible elements that are directly necessary for the physical construction of a project such as materials, site components like HVAC, interiors, exteriors, and landscaping.

On the other hand, soft costs are expenses that are indirectly related to construction activities, such as feasibility studies, architectural fees, permits, licenses, and safety inspections.
This template from Template Archive succeeds at providing clients with an easy-to-understand spreadsheet.

Construction cost estimate worksheet
Courtesy of Template Archive

Download link here: https://templatearchive.com/download/15571/

Residential Estimate Template

Most residential projects are typically straightforward projects. Estimate templates will contain fewer line items as compared to more complex commercial estimates. Thus the emphasis on residential estimates is on their readability and simplicity. 

This great residential estimate template contains all the frequently itemized elements of a new house construction project listed out in a clean easy-to-read format. 

New home construction estimate template
Courtesy of SmartSheet 

Download link here: https://www.smartsheet.com/sites/default/files/2020-11/IC-New-Home-Construction-Estimate-10964.xlsx

Save Time and Fulfill More Bids with Togal.AI 

Estimate templates are suitable alternatives to estimating software, but despite their versatility and usefulness, estimate templates still require painstaking manual measurement of drawings.
Performing material takeoffs in an estimate can take several hours even for just a simple project, and up to weeks when dealing with complex projects consisting of hundreds of pages of drawings.
Through the use of deep machine learning AI technology, Togal.AI helps automate the takeoff process so reports are completed in minutes and not days.Learn how general contractors are using Togal.AI to win more bids and save more time. Try Togal.AI today