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Community and Q&A

Software for Builders

Daniel Morrison | Posted in General Questions on

When I was getting out of building and remodeling, I had a website with password-protected places for customers to log in and view documents/photos related to their jobs. I was too cheap to buy estimating software, so I made spreadsheets to estimate things like lumber and drywall. There was no SketchUp, so I drew everything by hand. One builder I know used to set up a fax machine on the job site so the design team could fax detail drawings over.

What kinds of software do you GBA members use to design/build/remodel homes?

Project management?

How many of you use your smart phones for getting the job done?
Do any of you have websites with private areas for customers and their projects?

How many just mash-up a bunch of Google and Flickr stuff?

What about the iPad, anyone see that becoming a part of their SOP?


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  1. jbmoyer | | #1

    For estimating, project management, accounting, contracts, CAD integration, and more, UDA Construction Suite is a very powerful piece of software. A bit pricey, but if you are building multiple homes at a given time, it's worth it.
    There is a green building version as well...


    Estimating? Excel informed by data mining from QuickBooks

    Project management? Excel, Outlook, smart phone (prefer Crackberry but experimenting with Android) I have friends who love Procore and I drool over it from time to time.

    CAD? HB pencil, .05 through .09 I've experimented with Solid Builder and Chief Architect but they haven't really worked for the small fussy stuff we do.

    Accounting? QuickBooks & Excel

    Smart Phone? been through them all loved my Crackberry but now on a Druid (Android), great guitar tuner, fair camera (slow, no flash), not so great picture viewer and hard to use for dialing or texting while driving (which is a good thing.)

    I still carry an Olympus Stylus 770 crush proof/waterproof camera with flash and an 8 gig card for job site documentation and keep a really nice Olympus SP590UZ in the truck with wide angle and 26x zoom for video and serious documentation photos that need the wide angle. I shot a 90 minute video on it the other day with good sound documenting a class I taught at IBS. Hope to shoot podcasts with it soon.

    Ipad - not yet but it seems to be little more that a biggy-size Ipod and I carry one of them for viewing jobsite photos and my outlook schedule during the day, and for e-mail, watching video podcasts and surfing GBA and HuffPost in front of the fire in the evening. I'll wait for the second generation Ipad and get one then when it has the camera and a few more features. I would have gotten an I-phone but ATT doesn't serve my rural NC area as well as Verizon does so I'm stuck with either a Droid or Crackberry.

    I can imagine the i-pad with a cellular and blue tooth connection as a great thing for old guys like me with failing eyesight.

  3. Riversong | | #3


    I, also, used to draw all plans by hand. Now I've "upgraded" to a $39 2-D cad program, called HomePlan Pro, which does everything I need to create a full set of plans, including floor plans, elevations, foundation plan, framing plans, electrical and plumbing and HVAC plans, door and window schedules, etc. I print everything out on 8½" x 11" paper for ease of use (since my homes are small enough to fit at ¼" scale).

    I have hundreds of my own spreadsheets which I use for accounting, flow charts, material lists, estimating, structural and thermal engineering, solar engineering, and a myriad of other purposes. I also use Quicken for bookkeeping (still use the DOS version).

    I have no cell phone or PDA. I incorporate new technologies only when it's really necessary, is cost-effective, and provides a qualitative improvement to my work or my work experience. Most of what we rely on today only makes life more complicated and expensive.

    What happened to the Luddites, now that we really need them?

  4. Daniel Morrison | | #4

    Thanks for your answers guys.
    I know the crowd can do better than this, though.

  5. homedesign | | #5

    I use Autocad for drafting
    QuickBooks Pro for accounting
    Cutewriter to print PDF plans to email to my clients
    Flickr for photo sharing

  6. Karen Tucker | | #6

    iLiv makes the software that the GBCI uses internally to track all LEED certifications, and we’ve based our new software (for green building project teams, including owners/customers) on what we’ve built for them.
    We’re huge fans of collaboration, sharing, learning, and making it easier to track projects. We focus on integration -- for design, build, and maintenance. And the GBCI tells us we’ve helped them increase certifications, 15X.
    We’re launching our Alpha (first) version of our new software in April. This means we have nothing to sell right now. But since it’s my job to make sure that we are addressing real needs and not just selling ideas to teams, this is an interesting topic for me. If you could wave a magic wand to change anything on a project, what would it be? Note: it’s not fair to say ‘increase budget’. ;)
    Our software doesn’t tune guitars like Michael’s phone, but you can call me and we can try it by ear, if you like. ;)

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