Software isn't something I would say you need to invest in right away but in the long run it can be a huge time saver. We use Dynascape Design and Quote which work great together once you get the system organized. Basically once you have your numbers in (as determined by the methods others have mentioned) we have it set to run everything by the square footage. This is great because you can organize kits for pavers and say 100 sq.ft. and it calculates everything in one easy step. Excavation Gravel Geo-grid Bedding sand Pavers Deliveries Skid returns Trucking Labour Also can show your Costs/Product Mark up/Potential Profit/Labour Cost vs Billing Rate, great system to keep in mind for the future. Of course you can do the same thing with excel if your experienced in it but you can also export measurement right from your design so if the design changes a little you can update your quote with the click of a button.