Last month we distinguished between pre-sale estimating and post-sale estimating. It's an important distinction, but there are estimating products, developed specifically for remodelers, that handle both. Here are a couple examples.
Excel. Out of the box, Excel is better suited for post-sale number crunching than popping out quick quotes or attractive proposals. However, if you like the idea of spreadsheet estimating, add-ins are available. CPR International's RemodelCost Estimator and JobCost Controller ($64 for both, www.cprsoft.com) transform Excel into a good preliminary quoting tool and a post-sale job-cost monitor.
On the high end, BuildWorks (starting at $1,000 for the basic version, www.synapsesoftware.com) generates quick quotes based on historical records. It also moves the data into project scheduling, QuickBooks accounting, and job costing tools.
HomeTech Advantage. HomeTech has everything you need to take a project from preliminary quote through to job costing. The electronic version mirrors the paper unit-cost price book for quick and accurate pre-sale quotes. Post-sale, HomeTech can generate a bill of materials, import CAD-assisted takeoffs from Chief Architect, and export a budget to QuickBooks for job costing. (Four complete cost databases are $695, www.hometechonline.com.)
Exactimate for Remodelers. This software can set up estimates from ACT! or Goldmine. A CAD-like interface called "Sketch" lets you "draw" a quick bid. The rough drawings can feed your CAD system, the preliminary quote becomes a preliminary bill-of-materials (some massaging required), and the data can feed Microsoft Project for scheduling and QuickBooks or Master Builder for job costing. (Leases start at $116 per month plus a small set-up fee; additional seats cost $58 per month. www.exactware.com.)
--Joe Stoddard is a technology consultant to the building industry. Reach him at email@example.com.