Remodelers who have yet to take the technological plunge may wonder where to start. “Evaluate your business size, your future goals, and the technology your business is ready for,” suggests Daniel Hayden, director of product development for Construction Office. “You can then narrow the field by the complexity of software your company needs and the investment you're willing to make.” Software products that organize the office can transform piles of paperwork into efficient systems. “If you find that your time in the office is spent putting out fires instead of … managing your business, then it's time to consider project management software,” Hayden adds. Software like Construction Office and Master Builder are available in various packages, so remodelers can choose which options work best for their unique needs.
Drafting software is becoming more user-friendly as companies recognize that not everyone who needs to sketch a project has the time or desire to learn a complicated drawing program. AutoSketch and SketchUp promise ease-of-use with simple tools, and Kitchen Draw is designed specifically for kitchen projects.
Remodelers who still resist the computer age might find that they're missing out on the opportunity for increased earnings and a more professional outlook. “Any size remodeling contractor can benefit from the use of computers,” asserts Jeff Knutson, president of Contractors Software Group. “If it can help them get more work and make them more profitable, what reason would they have not to computerize their business?”
Courtesy Kitchen Draw America Kitchen Draw America. Kitchen Draw software is a downloadable program that boasts 2-D and 3-D planning capability along with photo-realistic images. Available in 25 different languages, the program has a Catalog Creator Tool that allows cabinet manufacturers and distributors to create their own catalog. No upfront investment is needed because the customer pays only for the hours of use. 613.692.0193. www.kitchendraw.com.
Courtesy Degussa Admixtures Degussa Admixtures. 3D Home Architect Home Design software now allows users to experiment with virtual renderings that show how colored concrete (made from Chromix coloring admixtures) can enhance driveways, pool decks, kitchens, bathrooms, and more. Chromix admixture colors and patterns are an option in the software's Materials Paintbrush feature. 216.839.7071. www.degussa.com.
Courtesy Intuit Intuit. With several new features, Master Builder Version 10 is for the growing contractor who needs to upgrade to a more comprehensive office system. Improved job costing and inventory solutions, combined with a new report scheduling feature, make the administration of jobs easy and information accessible. Modules in the basic edition include general ledger, accounts receivable, payroll, change orders, and many more. 800.726.6278. masterbuilder.intuit.com.
Courtesy UDA Technologies UDA Technologies. In its version specifically for remodelers and small contractors, Construction Office 2004 includes the company's Specifications, Estimating, Financing, and Mobile Integration components, among others. The California version includes contracts and forms necessary to meet the requirements of the California Contractors' State License Board. The complete system can be downloaded online. 800.700.8321. www.udatechnologies.com.
Courtesy SoftPlan Systems SoftPlan Systems. An added module to SoftPlan 12.5, SoftPlan reView works as a drawing viewer and mark-up tool that allows access to SoftPlan drawings anywhere. Using a PC or pocket PC, the program lets everyone involved in a construction project view, comment on, and mark the drawings. Revisions can be imported directly back into the original. 800.248.0164. www.softplan.com.
Courtesy Graphisoft Graphisoft. ArchiCAD 9 Virtual Building solutions software features enriched capabilities and tools for greater ease-of-use, a more polished work flow, and more powerful functionality, the maker says. Existing functions have been refined and new enhancements reduce iterative work and increase productivity. 617.485.4203. www.graphisoft.com.
Courtesy Autodesk Autodesk. AutoSketch 9 software offers a complete set of CAD tools, along with a series of tutorials and well-stocked content libraries. The program enables users to create professional-quality floor layouts, house project plans, electrical drawings, and information graphics easily and cost-effectively, the maker says. Photographs, scanned images, and logos can be added to any drawing. 800.440.4198. www.autodesk.com.
Courtesy @Last Software @Last Software. Touted as “3-D for the rest of us,” SketchUp is a 3-D conceptual design program that allows quick and easy model creation, viewing, modification, and presentation. Its tool set includes a pencil, eraser, orbit, and push-and-pull tools, as well as a stair tool. Its data can be exchanged with all standard CAD applications. The software is available for Windows and MAC OS X. 303.245.0086. www.sketchup.com. For more product information, visit ebuild, Hanley Wood's interactive product catalog, www.ebuild.com.