When the estimating software company Jack Moore was using unexpectedly went out of business, he needed somewhere to turn. Clear Estimates came to the rescue with a collection of tools perfectly suited to Moore's small remodeling business. The software was developed 10 years ago by Nolan Orfield when his remodeler father started looking for a customized estimating solution for his own company.

Today, Clear Estimates is on its eighth version and Moore says it offers great solutions for his business. "We're a small outfit for remodeling and flipping houses," says the president of Ajacks Remodeling.Pro, Champaign, Ill. "There are estimating software options out there for two or three grand, but we don't need all that."

Steve Petersen agrees. In launching his new company Masimo/Bastidas Construction Services in Pittsburgh, Peteresen says he was looking for something that would help him handle his wide scope of projects. "When you're starting a business, you have to do everything, so I'm the one painting, I'm the one finishing drywall," he says. "That's what I like about this program - it covers just about every kind of work you can do."

Moore says much of his estimating is done on Saturdays and Sundays, since he's on the jobsite during the week. Knowing that, he needed a software that would help him build estimates quickly so he wouldn't have to sacrifice his whole weekend. "The previous software we used has a couple of thousand different items included, but Clear Estimates has about 12,000," he says. "It's so easy to put an estimate together, and when you're a small company, easy is cool."

Simplified Estimates

The Clear Estimates product library includes material cost, labor cost, and a product description for each item. The software also features dozens of room templates ideal for companies that provide estimates for the same room types on a regular basis. For instance, the "bathroom remodel, premium grade" template is pre-set with the parts required for that type of project. "We can leave a template like that on as a dummy and all I need to do is enter the dimensions of the room, whether it's 6-by-8 or 8-by-10, and the estimate will update automatically," Moore says. "A bathroom can easily have 30 procedures in it, and a kitchen can have 60 or 70, so the templates really simplify the estimating process."

Jack Dean, director of sales for Clear Estimates says the software has a total of 62 templates for all types of interior and exterior projects, all of which can be customized by the user, or built from scratch if need be.

Petersen says he appreciates the fact that Clear Estimates updates product costs automatically, as opposed to Excel fields that users must update by hand. Clear Estimates' partner company RemodelMax updates the data on material prices and labor every quarter for 400 regions around the U.S. so users can be sure they're estimates are accurate for their area. Remodelers will also be interested to know that the annual Cost vs. Value report is built around Clear Estimates and RemodelMax techonology. RemodelMax uses Clear Estimates software to create an estimate for each Cost vs. Value project in each region. Read more about the methodology.

Other Clear Estimates features include:

  • Customizing reports with company logos and contact information
  • Database customization for frequently used products or trades
  • Subcontractor bid requests
  • Change order processing to show how changes will affect project cost
  • Cost Status Reports to track the changing project costs and payments
  • Detailed line item or summarized tabular report displaying project contents
  • Integration with Quickbooks Pro
  • Customer contacts management

Moore says he uses the desktop version of Clear Estimates software. Petersen opted for the new web-based version launched this year, which is gaining attention. Both remodelers say the low $59 per month fee for the software is ideal for their smaller operating budgets, and is a great value for the service. The online version updates regularly and automatically, and can be used on PCs, Macs, tablets, and smartphones.