QuickBooks Contractor is a special edition of QuickBooks Premier desktop software specifically tailored to the construction industry. It includes special features and reports to help budget and account for the costs of large jobs. All of these extra features come at no additional cost over the price of QuickBooks Premier.
QuickBooks Premier Contractor Edition is available as a one-time purchase, or can be purchased as an annual subscription with online backup, unlimited customer support, and upgrades to new editions. After purchasing QuickBooks Premier, you will be able to specify the contractor edition when downloading the software.
Pros & Cons of QuickBooks Contractor Edition
Easily assign direct costs to jobs
Cannot automatically allocate indirect costs to jobs
Analyze job profitability
Desktop software cannot be accessed from the internet
Create job estimates
Difficult to share books with external accountant compared to cloud-based software
QuickBooks Premier Contractor Pricing
The contractor edition is available for the same price as the base edition of QuickBooks Premier. QuickBooks Premier Contractor Edition can be purchased as either a one-time purchase or an annual subscription.
QuickBooks Premier Contractor Edition
QuickBooks Premier Plus Contractor Edition
$499.99 per year ($299.99 1st year)
Maximum installations for no additional fee
Additional simultaneous users
$649.99 one-time per user (maximum 5 users)
$499.99 per year per user (maximum 5 users)
Required edition upgrades
Every 3 years
Free maintenance updates
Free upgrade to new edition each year
Unlimited customer support
Online data backups
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Who QuickBooks Premier Contractor Edition is Right For
QuickBooks Premier Contractor is one of the best construction accounting software because it’s great for general contractors and subcontractors that struggle or spend excessive time to track the costs of individual jobs.
- Contractors tracking job costs separate from bookkeeping: Tracking job costs in QuickBooks contractor reduces your work by combining the tasks of job costing and general bookkeeping. Not only will this software reduce your work by combining tasks, it will also avoid costs being missed since job costs are tied to total company expenses.
- Contractors with multiple crews: In my experience with contractors, experienced owners are quite good at estimating profit on projects with which they are heavily involved, even if exact job costing isn’t performed. However, as your company grows and you form multiple crews, you no longer have day-to-day involvement in each job and it’s much harder to estimate job profitability. With multiple crews, it’s crucial that you have accurate job costs to evaluate and assist your project managers in controlling costs.
- Contractors wanting to reduce waste: In addition to the great job costing features, QuickBooks Premier Contractor includes the same inventory features as the base edition of QuickBooks Premier. Materials returned from a job site can be recorded as inventory so your project managers can plan to use them on the next job, instead of ordering unnecessary materials.
Who QuickBooks Premier Contractor Edition is Not Right For
Like the base edition of QuickBooks Premier, the contractor edition can only be accessed from the computers on which the program has been installed. You can solve this by allowing outside access to your office computer or having the program hosted by a third party online. However, most people wanting anywhere access to their QuickBooks will choose QuickBooks Online, although they will lose the contractor specific reports and features.
- Cloud accounting: Your business might require some of the accounting functions to be done in the field. For instance, your construction business might want a repair technician to be able to issue invoices in the field. QuickBooks Online will be a better fit if this is a major priority.
- Inexperienced bookkeepers: Unlike online software, your off-site CPA or bookkeeper can’t see your books from their office computer. With QuickBooks Premier Contractor you must make an Accountant’s Copy and send it to your CPA. It’s not a bad system, but it’s not something you want to deal with on a daily or weekly basis.
- More than five users: QuickBooks Premier Contractor can only support up to five concurrent users. If your construction company has a larger accounting department that needs continuous access, you’ll be better off with QuickBooks Enterprise, which supports up to 30 concurrent users and also comes in a contractor-specific edition.
Not sure whether to go with an on premise or cloud based accounting software? Read our guide to Quickbooks Online vs Desktop to understand the main differences.
Alternatives to QuickBooks Contractor Edition
Consider instead of QuickBooks Contractor because
Mobile app produces professional looking invoices on the go
Easier for inexperienced bookkeepers that need frequent help from an external accountant
Allows up to 25 simultaneous users
More affordable while still including great functionality
QuickBooks Premier Contractor Key Features
- Create estimates: You can create and send job estimates to potential customers. It’s important to provide as much detail as possible in the estimate, as this provides the base for the future change orders, invoices, and budget analysis.
- Create change orders: Large jobs rarely go perfectly as planned. When a change is necessary, you can make modifications to your original estimate and QuickBooks will automatically produce a change order to send to your customer.
- Create purchase orders: You can create purchase orders directly from the estimate screen. This helps prevent your project managers from forgetting to order needed materials resulting in pricey add-ons and lost time. Your project managers can also use the purchase orders to identify needed materials that are not included in the estimate.
- Create invoice: You can create an invoice directly from the estimate. Create an in-progress invoice by specifying a set percentage to bill for each item on the estimate, or you can select only specific items on the estimate to invoice. For example, you might select to invoice only the materials listed on the invoice. When it’s time to invoice the remaining estimate, just view the estimate again, click create invoice, and QuickBooks will ask you if you want to invoice the remaining amount.
- Assign employee time to job and service item: Not only can you assign the cost of an employee’s wages to a particular job, but also to a service item that corresponds to the service items listed on your estimate. When wages are assigned to a particular job and service item, QuickBooks will automatically assign any payroll taxes to that job as well.
- Reporting: There are many reports to help you manage and evaluate your construction jobs:
- Job profitability: Provides actual revenue and costs. Revenue and costs can be summarized for all selected jobs, or can be displayed by service items for a particular job..
- Job estimates vs actuals: Provides a comparison of actual to estimated revenue and expenses. The report can be summarized by job or broken out by service items for a particular job.
- Job progress invoices vs estimates: Compares the cumulative amount of progress invoices to the estimate by job so you can identify any jobs that have not been fully invoiced.
- Item profitability: Provides actual revenue and cost separated by service item across all jobs. This helps you identify which service items are the most and least profitable.
- Item estimates vs. actual: Provides a comparison of actual vs estimated revenue and expenses by service item across all jobs. This helps you identify which service items are being poorly estimated.
- Unpaid bills by job: Provides a list of outstanding bills separated by job. This is important to track to properly wrap up jobs and avoid any errors that could result in a customer being threatened with a lien from your vendor.
- Expenses not assigned to jobs: Provides a list of expenses not assigned to jobs that should be reviewed to make sure they don’t include direct materials or other charges that can be billed to a job.
- Job costing center: The job costing center provides the top and bottom threejobs ranked on profitability over the last three months. It also provides a few highlights of your recent performance and links to useful job costing reports.
QuickBooks Premier Contractor Edition combines the powerful bookkeeping functions of QuickBooks Premier with features to help general and subcontractors better track costs, evaluate performance, and reduce waste. The software is in-depth and sophisticated and will probably require a full-time bookkeeper, but that’s just the nature of cost accounting for large projects.
To purchase QuickBooks Premier Contractor Edition, you must first purchase QuickBooks Premier. Before downloading the program, you will be asked if you want an industry-specific edition for no additional cost. Simply select Contractor Edition and you’re on your way to better job costing. Visit QuickBooks today to get started.