Navigating the nuances and nuisances of construction management is no mean feat.
There’s the maths—crunching numbers on job orders, operations, payroll, and overhead.
…and the dreaded paperwork—filing Permit A at Office B then having it signed at Office C, and organizing mountains of receipts, and reading through contracts ‘til your eyes start falling out.
…and managing schedules with clients, subcontractors, staff, and dozens of others.
Then, at the end of the day, there’s the pressure of making sure the job gets done in the face of clients’ constantly changing demands.
Construction management isn’t just a juggling act; it’s running the entire circus.
All that said, there are ways to make things easier.
Equipped with the right residential construction management software, you can get work done and still keep your sanity. Imagine how much easier things would be if you could automate your payroll, template your job orders, and keep track of your workflows in one place, and get your accounting done in a single click.
What Should You Look For In Residential Construction Management Software?
- A Great Interface (UI/UX)
- Value for Money
1. A Great Interface (UI/UX)
As a contractor, you’re trained to think of structures, not only in terms of aesthetics, but in terms of function as well. You need to exercise the same discipline with software—it should look good, yes, but it needs to work well, too.
Image borrowed from Smarties
Consider the following:
The user interface above is obviously all over the place.
First of all, it’s a chore to look at—can you honestly say you’ll be looking forward to using that everyday? Second, it’s next to impossible to figure it out on your own. You probably need an entire week to read through the manual, or, worse, take up special classes just to learn how to use it.
We suggest you judge a software’s interface on two things:
- Discoverability, or the ease by which you can intuit, figure out and, erm, discover features for yourself.
The better an app is designed, the less you’ll need a manual for it. Residential construction management software is already complex by nature, so it only makes sense to look for something that’ll make work easier.
Next, the nitty-gritty: features.
You want it to make sure the software you invest in actually helps you get work done. That way, you know you’re spending money on construction management software that actually creates impact for your bottom line.
At the very least, get software that can do the following four things:
You should be able to keep track of deployments and work hours from anywhere. Choose software that updates you online, preferably in real-time. Ideally, the software should come with a built-in calendar (or Google Calendar integration) that lets you see all your staff’s activities, projects, and timelines at a glance.
Some options come with a built-in messenger that can be a real lifesaver in some situations. The more in sync you are with your team and their projects, the better you’ll be able to manage all that’s going on.
Trust us, there’s nothing better than receiving an urgent message right away—the sooner you know, the better!
Dealing with subcontractors involves a ton of monotonous tasks, not least of which is keeping track of all your work orders with them. Sure, you could develop an elaborate filing system organised by date, project, contractor, and status, but why do all that work yourself when it can be automated?
In fact, why even bother drafting a work order from scratch when there’s software that comes packaged with templates for them?
Remember, residential construction management software is all about helping you do the job efficiently, so let it take care of the little things like these.
Some excellent pieces of software can even keep a running tally of bids for your projects, so you can get the best price every time. That makes a direct impact on your profits, which in turn helps your business grow.
Communicating with clients is basically half the job, so you’ll want to use software that makes it easier to do so. Emailing is usually the most dummy-proof way to go about it, but it isn’t exactly the fastest solution. Neither is obsessively checking your email every half-hour.
Some software allows you to communicate more efficiently with your clients, combining basic email functionality with instant messaging and file sharing.
Furthermore, because these features come built into the software, you won’t need to juggle three to four different apps to reach your clients.
One of the most sought-after functionalities in residential construction management software is built-in accounting, which means all the maths involved in your projects is done on-the-spot as soon as you type the figures in. It’s a convenient way of keeping your books in order, without spending extra on hiring an accountant.
But we suggest software that goes beyond basic record-keeping. Some of the latest residential construction management software can already integrate with popular apps and store files and documents for easy review and transfers.
Now, a lot of the best management software will give you most of these features. It’s all a matter of finding which one addresses your needs best, while still being easy to use.
And, of course, you’ll want to keep the next and final consideration in mind…
3. Value for Money
At the end of the day, “the right software” means getting the best value for your money. Always remember the reason you’re investing in residential construction management software: it’s so you can work better, faster, and more efficiently.
In short, it’s about maximizing your income and minimizing your costs.
Keep an open eye, though. There are dozens of residential construction management software providers that it can be difficult to find the best one for you.
We suggest starting with a list.
List down your must-have and nice-to-have features and prioritize your search based on those.
Next, try eyeball how much time or money this can save you.
That is, try to get a number behind the hypothetical man-hours, operational costs, hiring costs, and admin costs you’ll potentially save. Additionally, figure out how each feature will impact how money flows in and out of your business.
If you’ll save a lot more than you’re paying for the software, then you’ve got a winner.
It’s a lot of research, but it’s well worth the time and money you’ll save with the right software in place.
To save you some time, we’ve done some research for you. In the next section, you’ll find five of our favorite residential construction management apps, and why we think you’ll like them.
Read on to check them out.
A crowd favorite among our fellow tradies in The Site Shed Facebook group, Buildxact has been helping builders and contractors across Australia, New Zealand, and North America for years.
You’ll find hundreds of glowing reviews about it online, and here are a few reasons why:
Buildxact’s bread and butter is its finance capabilities. The app allows for automated costing, quote generation, cost tracking, price variations, and invoicing based on set parameters. In just a few clicks, you’ll have a custom quote.
The app also features a built-in scheduling system that can automatically create job schedules based on your estimates, and track your progress as the project proceeds.
Learn more about its features here.
The software integrates with many popular tradie apps like Deputy for time management and scheduling; and Xero, MYOB, and Quickbooks for accounting and finance.
It also connects to your email addresses so you can get host work-related emails in one place.
Buildxact works straight from your Internet browser, which means that you can access it on any platform. Whether you’ve got a desktop PC or a Macbook, with a phone running Android or iOS, the app runs smoothly, so long as you have stable internet.
Buildxact offers a free 14-day trial, so you can test how well it works before actually hitting the buy button. After that, you can subscribe to their services at three different price points, which are all discounted if you pay annually.
For $125 per month (only $1500 annually), you’ll get their Entry Plan, good for one user, with the ability to do estimates and on-screen takeoffs.
With this plan, you’ll be able to create unlimited quotes, but only for estimates.
This plan is most useful for tradies who are just starting out and need a little extra help as they learn the ins and outs of the business.
For $249 per month ($2508 annually), you’ll be getting the Pro Plan for up to two users. This plan includes all Entry Plan features plus the full suite of job management tools.
This set-up is perfect for tradies who are a little more established in their fields, and who need a lot more functionality out of their residential construction management software.
For $399 per month ($4,008 annually), you get the Team Plan, which lets up to four users take full advantage of Buildxact’s functionalities, as well as additional user access controls. This is the best plan for mature teams with multiple project managers.
Buildxact also offers Enterprise Plans for large companies, with quotes available upon request.
Learn more about their pricing options at this link.
Developed by builders for builders, BuildTools knows exactly what tradies need. The team behind the app aims to equip homebuilders with a full suite of residential construction management tools, at a very friendly price.
BuildTools prides itself on being one of the most feature-rich apps on the market, doing a little bit of everything. It’s got scheduling and budgeting tools, document sharing features, and bid management functions for administrative work.
On the job site, you can keep track of each project’s progress through task lists, plan redlining, and daily logs.
BuildTools also allows you to communicate more smoothly with your team and clients. Users can comment on any project, and the ability to upload photos onto the app allows for detailed status updates.
Learn more about the BuildTools’ features here.
The app is fully integrated with Xero and QuickBooks, which help power its budgeting, invoicing, purchase ordering, and other finance features. BuildTools is also working on adding Sage accounting integration as of this writing.
BuildTools is entirely web-based, so you can use it on any platform, so long as you have an Internet connection and a browser installed.
One of the biggest selling points of BuildTools is its uncomplicated pricing structure. It starts with a $79 monthly fee, and then you add $20 per user. If you’re flying solo with the app, that means you get full functionality for only $99 per month.
BuildSoftPro is much more streamlined than the previous two apps, trading in several features for ease of use. This makes BuildSoft Pro ideal for low-volume contractors, generally in a small- to medium-sized enterprise.
As one of the lighter examples of residential construction management software out there, BuildSoft Pro focuses on two key competencies:
- Scheduling, Estimating, and Purchasing;
- Accounting and Business Intelligence.
The app facilitates the generation of cost estimates, job costing, and variances through built-in accounting tools, while a calendar system helps you manage your timelines.
On the accounting side, BuildSoft Pro keeps track of your suppliers and invoices, and alerts you whenever a project goes over budget.
For more info on its features, visit this link.
All of BuildSoft Pro’s features are built-in, which means it doesn’t have to rely on third-party integrations to deliver its promises. While this does mean that some data migration might be necessary on your part, everything runs smoothly once that’s out of the way.
According to business software evaluator Capterra, BuildSoft Pro currently only runs on Mac or Windows. Mobile platforms like Android and iOS are not supported.
BuildSoft Pro is available at a fixed price of $150 per month, per user.
This feature-dense app comes highly recommended in builder circles, being touted as a jack-of-all-trades for residential construction project management.
Operating under the principles of Coordinate, Communicate, and Control, CoConstruct has helped thousands of tradies around the world increase both their efficiency and their profits.
With CoConstruct, you can do virtually everything you imagine residential construction management software does. It comes with scheduling features, task trackers, file sharing, bidding assistance, and timesheet management so every job site runs smoothly.
It also has built-in communications features that allow you to interface with clients regarding updates, change orders, and further proposals. Automated invoicing makes transactions a breeze, and cost forecasts let you stay within budget.
Plus, the app can be fully customised to match your branding, which helps your company appear more professional—which, in turn, generates more business.
The app has integrations with Xero and QuickBooks for accounting, and Microsoft Excel for book-keeping. For time management and scheduling, CoConstruct syncs with Google Calendar.
Integrations with Outlook help you manage your email, while DropBox assists with file-sharing. Finally, CoConstruct also features Facebook integration for easier networking.
CoConstruct runs on any web-connected device, including your iOS and Android phones and tablets.
CoConstruct uses a highly flexible pricing scheme that adapts to your needs, based on the features you use.
Pricing starts at $199 per month for its scheduling and accounting features, $249 per month for added business management tools, and $299 per month for full functionality, which includes its collaboration systems.
You’ll get unlimited users and projects for what you pay; pricing only changes based on the number of active job sites you have.
For QuoteSpec, simplicity is key. The app was designed for tradies who need quick and easy quotes, because they found that too many were spending their after-hours doing the process manually.
While it doesn’t carry as much functionality as the other residential construction management apps in this list, it still comes highly recommended because of how well it works.
The app is all about making quote generation as simple as possible. It helps you track allowance costs, organise costs via categories and item lists, create sales projections, and keep a record of your quote history.
It does all of this with a large number of customisation options, so you can make it work exactly how you want it to.
Learn more about QuoteSpec’s features here.
The app’s features are all part of its own architecture, which means that it doesn’t need any integrations to function.
With the QuoteSpec Plus plan (see below), however, you do get the option to export data as CSV files, which allows for some cross-functionality with spreadsheet apps like Microsoft Excel and Google Sheets.
QuoteSpec runs on all platforms, including Android and iOS. Mobile device access makes it incredibly convenient, as you can provide quotes to your clients on-the-fly.
For only $46 per month, two users can get access to QuoteSpec’s main quoting systems, plus 5GB of storage. This makes QuoteSpec one of the most affordable options on the market.
At $69 per month, you get the QuoteSpec Plus plan. This gives you access to all the above features, plus a built-in messaging system, document sharing, photo uploads, and more.
Any sensible tradie will see it wise to invest in residential construction management software, especially after seeing how much time and money they can save. Imagine getting more done in record speed—that’s the goal isn’t it?
Just make sure to really know what you’re investing in. Different apps address different needs, and your needs aren’t always the same as everyone else’s.
Always keep our three criteria in mind. You want an app that is:
- Is user-friendly.
- And good value for money.