The Best Construction Bidding Software for General Contractors: Downtobid

Written by Bridget Cooper

DateApr 20, 2024
Reading time9 min read

As a general contractor, you likely collaborate with hundreds, if not thousands, of subcontractors each year. These subcontractors, whether swinging hammers, laying pipes, or wiring fixtures, are the driving force behind your projects.

For this reason, starting off on the right foot with them is crucial. Many GCs think this starts when work begins on-site. But the truth is that the foundation for these partnerships is laid much earlier — right from the moment you send your first invitation.

Unfortunately, many construction bidding software platforms don't make this early collaboration easy. Outdated interfaces. Impersonal bid invites. Limited document-sharing capabilities. These are just a few of the challenges GCs face when engaging subs on most platforms.

For this reason, we believe that Downtobid is the best construction bidding software, and in this article, we’ll show you exactly why.

Downtobid in a Nutshell

Downtobid is a preconstruction software tool that uses AI to:

  • analyze construction drawings and identify bid packages automatically
  • match subcontractors with relevant bid packages
  • generate custom subcontractor invite lists tailored to their project's specific requirements

With Downtobid, you can use AI to turn your construction plans into bid invitations in just a few minutes.

Let's dive into some essential features your construction bid management software should have to ensure seamless collaboration with subcontractors.

Is the Subcontractor Network Updated?

You may already have a trusted network of qualified subcontractors in your local area. But what happens when you land a project outside your usual geographic radius? How will you access qualified subs when you decide to expand into new markets?

Quick fixes like using Google Maps, asking for referrals, or posting ads on Craigslist can provide temporary solutions, but they don't address the underlying problem.

If you're frequently operating across state lines or in new territories, you need a reliable way to connect with qualified subcontractors without resorting to time-consuming methods.

Many GCs turn to construction project management software with subcontractor networks to quickly build high-quality sublists in new areas. There's a significant drawback, however.

Most construction bidding software platforms rely on subcontractors to update their own data. Unfortunately, this system is prone to inaccuracies because subcontractors are often juggling multiple construction projects, leaving profile maintenance as a low priority. This presents a few challenges:

  • Retirees and inactive subcontractors may remain on lists as active employees
  • Trades are often misallocated.
  • Subcontractors may inaccurately claim to perform work in certain areas.
  • Contact information is frequently incorrect.

These issues make it challenging to determine which subcontractors are genuinely interested and available for a project.

Recognizing this challenge, we've used several measures to ensure that our subcontractor database remains current and responsive. We:

  • pull information from multiple reliable sources, including Google Maps and local trade associations, to ensure comprehensive coverage
  • use AI to accurately categorize the trades listed by subcontractors on their websites
  • determine project preferences and project type preferences based on subcontractor portfolio pages, if available.
  • reach out to subcontractors via email to verify contact information and confirm the active status of their companies in the construction industry
  • update subcontractor information regularly, especially after receiving responses, to maintain the accuracy


Using our database, you can create targeted lists based on specific criteria such as:

  • trades performed
  • area of work
  • MWBE status
  • union/non-union status
  • average project size
  • past projects

But you're not just limited to our subcontractor database. After uploading your project documents, our AI generates a customized list of local, qualified subcontractors perfectly matched to your project's needs.

*Scan For Scope.png

How Are You Sending ITBs to Subcontractors?

Existing construction management software often restrict customization, resulting in bid invites that lack personalization and fail to include important project details. This generic approach leads to:

  • bid invites getting lost in spam filters
  • subcontractors having to sift through irrelevant information to know if the project suits them

And it's not just about the initial invite. The whole process can be repetitive and time-consuming. You send out invites, make follow-up calls, and then do it all over again.

Our personalized ITBs allow you to customize invitations. You can address subcontractors by name and reference their project history and expertise. This personal touch increases the likelihood of engagement and responses, with users reporting a 30% increase in response rates.

*Email Template.png

Our ITBs also include a high-level scope summary, allowing subs to quickly assess project suitability without diving into complicated plans. You can communicate due dates and prequalification requests well in advance, giving subcontractors enough time to gather information and submit bid proposals confidently.

Is the Platform Sub-Friendly?

One common frustration among subs is the need to create an account to view project plans. We've removed this barrier by ensuring that they can access project plans easily -- without the need for an account. The result? Reduced friction and a seamless experience for subcontractors.


With some platforms, subs also cannot directly reply to bid invitation emails. This can lead to a significant drop-off in subcontractor engagement. Subcontractors are often overwhelmed with work, and requiring them to switch platforms to respond to bid invitations can discourage their participation.

To address this issue, our platform lets subs reply to your bid invitation emails directly within the platform. They don't have to juggle different communication channels, meaning your bid invitations receive prompt attention and responses.

How Do You Handle Communication with Subcontractors?

The following three components can help maintain regular, stress-free communication with your subs throughout the entire project life cycle:

  • Bidding intent
  • Addenda
  • Reminders

Let's look into each one of them.

Bidding Intent

Platforms that use "Bidding Intent" buttons often experience low engagement. These buttons require subs to manually review and respond with simplistic "Yes/No/Maybe" options. The problem? They don't accurately reflect their true bidding intent, clarifications, or capabilities.


As a result, many subcontractors may be listed as "Undecided," leading you to make follow-up calls to know their actual bidding status.

To address this issue, our AI reviews each reply and planroom activity to determine a subcontractor's bidding intent and interest level. Instead of relying solely on buttons, this allows us to automatically calculate more accurate coverage metrics based on meaningful interactions within the platform.

email thread.png

Also, the AI categorizes responses (e.g., not bidding, interested, bidding), providing an accurate representation of bid coverage.


Traditional construction estimating software blast addenda as new emails, contributing to the clutter in subs' inboxes. Adding to this problem, inconsistencies in planrooms make it challenging for them to determine if they have the latest version of the addenda or if it even affects them.

Our platform detects the sheets impacted by addenda and communicates these changes directly to your subs. We highlight the specific pages affected so that subs can easily identify the changes and understand how they may impact their bids.

We also offer a bid board you can connect to your email client to easily organize your inbox. See for yourself why we are one of the top construction bid management softwares with our bid board.


In many construction project management tools, reminders aren't automated, meaning they require your manual intervention. These reminders often lack detail and are sent as separate emails, further cluttering your subs' inboxes

Our system schedules follow-ups for you based on when proposals are due. Plus, the timing of reminders adjusts depending on how close the deadline is, so they're always effective.

Reminders are also sent in the same email thread as previous messages, so subcontractors know exactly what they're about. This makes it easier for them to keep track of what's happening and respond promptly.

Is Your Platform Easy to Use?

If you choose complicated software, potential subcontractors may not give it a chance. They might even give up trying to communicate with you, leaving both parties in the dark and at risk of miscommunication.

That's why you need to implement construction bid management software that's both:

  • beneficial to your construction business
  • easy for subcontractors to bid on projects

Our platform prioritizes user-friendliness, so you can hit the ground running from day one.

Getting started with Downtobid is a breeze:

Upload Your Project Plans

Click this link to upload your construction plans. Enter your email address so that you can get a notification once your analysis is ready for viewing.

*Create Project.png

Let AI Analyze Your Construction Plans

Our AI reviews each page of your plan set, analyzing it for scope and creating bid packages accordingly. It typically takes between 10 to 30 minutes, and once the analysis is complete, you'll receive an email notification.

bid packages-min.png

Review the Analysis

Once you log in to your Downtobid account, you'll find a comprehensive list of all the bid packages generated by our AI copilot. For each page, the AI generates a simple scope sheet that includes:

  • An overall description of the bid package
  • Each instance where the scope is detected in the plans
  • A list of recommended local, qualified subcontractors that you can invite to bid.

*Project Information.png

Subcontractors Bid on the Project

Subs can easily access your project's plan room without needing their own account. Our platform organizes the plan room into four folders: Plans, Specs, Photos, and Miscellaneous.

Each page is sheeted, indexed, and given a title, making it incredibly easy for subs to find the information they need at a glance.

Respond to Bids

To streamline communication, any emails from subcontractors go directly to your inbox, meaning you can manage and respond to bid requests without any hassle throughout the bidding process.

You also get a centralized system that consolidates all your project needs into one platform. Whether it's accessing plans, specifications, photos, or miscellaneous files, everything you need is at your fingertips.

Try Downtobid for Free

For GCs looking to simplify their bidding process, connect with the right subcontractors, and eliminate manual administrative tasks, Downtobid is the obvious choice. The best part? You can try Downtobid for free.

Upload your construction plans at no cost and experience firsthand how the platform can take the hassle out of the bidding process.

Written by Bridget CooperUpdated on May 8, 2024

Continue reading

Upload Your Project Plans And Send Bid Invites In Minutes