If your estimating software can't export to QuickBooks or doesn't produce what you want after exporting to QuickBooks, you can still enter the data by hand. It's not as hard as it might seem.

First, you'll need to figure out which estimating report comes closest to what you want to see in QuickBooks. Then, simply print the report and enter the estimate, line-by-line, into QuickBooks.

Alternatively, if you have built your own spreadsheet estimating template, then it's an easy matter to create a new worksheet specifically designed to be printed out for manual entry into QuickBooks. This new worksheet — name it “QuickBooks Summary” or something similar — will contain only the data you want to enter into Quick-Books.

For example, if you are estimating floor framing, your full worksheet might look like the one below:

Materials Man Hrs Labor Subs Equip Phase Total
Floor Framing

Joists $600.00

Joist hangers $150.00

Joist hanger nails $35.00

Bridging/blocking $45.00

Bridging fasteners $25.00

Install joists
20 $525.00

Install bridging
8 $210.00

Totals $855.00 28 $735.00 $ - $ - $1,590.00

Then your “QuickBooks Summary” worksheet might look like this:

Floor Framing $1590.00
Floor framing labor $735.00
Floor framing materials $855.00
Floor framing subs $ -
Floor framing equipment $ -

Remember, in this example all you're interested in is total material and labor, so other details would only be a distraction. In this format, it's a simple matter to enter these total dollar amounts manually into a pre-existing estimate template in QuickBooks.

HINT: Beware! Make a backup of your QuickBooks file before you import or add estimating data manually so you can “undo” the results if you're not happy. —Melanie Hodgdon of Business Systems Management, Bristol, Maine, is a QuickBooks professional advisor offering organizational and business services to construction companies nationwide. 207.529.5849; www.bsm-inc.biz.