iSqFt vs Downtobid: Comparing the Best Construction Bid Solicitation Platforms

Written by Bridget Cooper

DateMar 27, 2024
Reading time8 min read
Software comparison

iSqFt, a veteran platform dating back to 1993, has long been a trusted name in construction bidding. But things are moving fast in the construction industry. Today's general contractors now demand more from their bidding platforms. They want comprehensive coverage of project scopes, seamless communication with subcontractors, and up-to-date sub-networks.

So does iSqFt still have what it takes to meet GC's growing needs? How does it stack up against newer, innovative platforms like Downtobid?

In this guide, we’ll look at iSqFt's strengths and shortcomings, and compare it with Downtobid as a construction bid solicitation platform.

Downtobid homepage

Downtobid in a Nutshell

Downtobid is a preconstruction bid solicitation platform that identifies bid packages within drawings and project plans, crafts tailored subcontractor invite lists and uses AI to streamline the bidding process. Users can turn construction plans into bid invites in minutes with our software, saving time and the hassle of manual data entry. 


iSqFt Summary

iSqFt is a Software as a Service (SaaS) company that caters to various players in the North American commercial construction sector, including general contractors, subcontractors, manufacturers, construction companies, estimating teams, and project owners.

Originally kicking off in 1993 as Construction Software Technologies, iSqFt has evolved to offer a suite of software solutions for the design, pre-construction, and procurement phases of construction projects. It helps users:

  • identify project leads and product sales opportunities
  • network with other construction professionals
  • manage the bid solicitation process
  • access a commercial construction projects database, featuring thousands of active projects

There are many iSqFt alternatives on the market you can check out that do similar functions.

View and share digital drawings and specifications during the preconstruction and construction process

In 2016, iSqFt joined forces with BidClerk, Construction Data, and Construction Market Data under the ConstructConnect banner. Since the merger, though, the company has ceased updates to the old iSqFt platform, directing its resources towards the new ConstructConnect platform.

You can read more about these different tools on our comparison page of BidClerk vs ConstructConnect vs Downtobid.

How Do They Compare?

With introductions out of the way, it's time to to compare the two platforms head-to-head.

We believe that certain features are crucial for any construction contractor to get maximum benefit from their bid solicitation platforms. They include:

  • Communicating with subcontractors
  • Data coverage
  • Ease of use
  • Plan rooms
  • Pricing

Communicating with Subcontractors

Subs face a constant influx of project invitations, often receiving hundreds of messages monthly from GCs they hardly know. The last thing you'd want is to get lost in this chaotic shuffle.

Compounding this issue is the time-consuming and repetitive nature of the invitation process — sending invites, making follow-up calls, and repeating the cycle.

That's why our first focus is on how these platforms handle subcontractor engagement. We're breaking down how they stack up in three key categories:

  • Sending ITBs
  • Managing addenda
  • Sending reminders

Sending ITBs

The standard ITB on platforms like iSqFt lacks customization, meaning your invite looks just like everyone else's. Only your company logo sets it apart.

Even more frustrating is the limited space for project information. Subs are left in the dark, scrambling for details already buried in the project documents and project requirements — tax status, labor type, schedule info, and the list goes on.

In contrast, our platform creates personalized ITBs that offer customization options and provide greater detail about the project upfront.

*Project Information.png

Addressing subs by name, referencing their project history, and acknowledging their expertise, increases the likelihood of engagement and responses. In fact, users report a 30% increase in response rates using our platform.

*Email Template.png

We also use AI to categorize subs' responses accurately – not bidding, interested, or bidding – which provides an accurate representation of bid coverage.

Managing Addenda

A major issue with iSqFt is that addenda are often sent as separate emails, adding to the flood of project-related messages subs already receive. They struggle to keep track, and even when they do manage to locate the addenda, the inconsistency of plan rooms makes it challenging to know if the changes affect them and if they have the latest version.

Our platform doesn't just add to the chaos. We detect which sheets have been impacted and communicate those changes directly to the subcontractor. Subs can quickly pinpoint the pages they need to review to understand the scope changes and how they may impact their bids.

*Scan For Scope.png

Sending Reminders

iSqFt doesn't use automated reminders, placing the burden on GCs to manually push them, which creates the potential risk of oversight. What's worse, these reminders often arrive as separate emails with no additional context. Again, leaving subs in the dark.

Our automated reminder system eliminates the need for manual intervention. Reminders are sent automatically, ensuring that subcontractors receive timely prompts. Plus, our system keeps everything in the same thread, so subs have all the context they need.

Data Coverage

A big selling point of iSqFt is its huge subcontractor network, which is a valuable resource for GCs who frequently operate across state lines. But there's a catch, however.

The platform relies solely on subs to update their data. And given that most subs are juggling multiple projects, profile maintenance typically takes a back seat. So this presents several problems:

  • Trades are often misallocated.
  • Retirees still linger on lists as active employees
  • Claimed service areas from historical data frequently prove incorrect

To ensure data accuracy, our platform uses a rigorous multi-step verification process for our network. We:

  • analyze subcontractor portfolio pages to infer project and project type preferences
  • reach out to them directly via email before adding them to our database to verify contact information and ensure their active status.
  • use AI to categorize subs' trades listed on their websites, ensuring pinpoint accuracy.
  • pull data from diverse sources, including Google Maps and local trade associations, to compile a comprehensive list of local, qualified subs.
  • update contact information after every response


Ease of Use

Many users have voiced frustration over the platform's steep learning curve. The search function, for instance, is often challenging to navigate — only the most specific input will get you the bids you’re after.

For subcontractors, it’s even trickier. Misleading bid listings can lead to frustration, as they can invest considerable time reviewing projects only to discover they are not open for bidding. Poor keyword search means even more hours wasted sifting through plans.

In contrast, our software prioritizes user-friendliness, streamlining the bidding process for both GCs and subs.

Simply take a set of plans and upload them to our system.

*Create Project.png

Our platform swiftly extracts all the essential project information and generates a comprehensive list of required bid packages.

And it goes further than that, it:

  • Curates a customized list of local, qualified subcontractors perfectly matched to your project’s needs.
  • Drafts personalized messages with attention-grabbing subject lines and straightforward scope summaries, making sure subs know exactly what you need.
  • Provides a self-serve, frictionless plan room for document access for subs -- without the hassle of logins

Plan Rooms

Staying on track with user-friendliness, let's address a common headache for subs: the often chaotic nature of plan rooms. With iSqFt, each GC can organize their plan room or bid board differently, adding to the difficulty for subs who must sift through cluttered files to find their scope of work.

To tackle this problem, Downtobid organizes the plan room automatically, dividing everything neatly into four folders:

  • Plans
  • Specs
  • Photos
  • Miscellaneous


This setup mirrors what subcontractors are used to, making it a breeze to find exactly what they're looking for. We sheet and index every single page, providing detailed titles for easy reference. Subs can quickly locate and access the specific pages relevant to their scope of work. This minimizes unnecessary downloads and frustration. And as a result, helps boost response rates and increase submitted bids.


With iSqFt's transition to Construction Connect, you're now directly paying for Construction Connect services. For GCs, pricing kicks off at a hefty $3600 per year. And at that price, you get unlimited access to the platform's nationwide subcontractor network and private directory contacts. You also get communication templates, reports, and bid-day tools.

In contrast, Downtobid offers straightforward pricing: $50 per user, which includes a dedicated bid coordinator to ensure smooth sailing on every project. And $499 for unlimited users. You also get to enjoy a generous 50% offer during your first year.

Final Thoughts

While iSqFt has held a strong presence in construction bidding for decades, the fast changes in the industry demand more comprehensive solutions. iSqFt has its strengths, but Downtobid offers superior features that can help streamline the preconstruction process for you and help you save time.

There's much more to explore beyond what we've covered in this article. You can experience the benefits firsthand by trying the platform for free today.

Written by Bridget CooperUpdated on Mar 28, 2024

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