This article is part of a larger series on Accounting Software.
The best construction accounting software for general contractors and subcontractors can vary greatly based on your company’s needs. Some contractors only need basic bookkeeping software that will calculate profit and loss by job. Others want accounting software that is just one component of full-blown enterprise resource planning (ERP) software. We selected a range of software to fit different business needs, from simple accounting software for contractors with one crew to ERP software for midsized construction companies.
- Buildertrend: Best overall construction ERP features and accounting software when integrated with QuickBooks Online (4.32 out of 5 points)
- Sage 100 Contractor: Best single product with basic construction ERP features combined with solid accounting functionality (3.71 out of 5 points)
- QuickBooks Online Plus: Best general purpose accounting software for tracking job costs (3.55 out of 5 points)
- JobPower: Best ERP system with employee location tracking (3.36 out of 5 points)
- QuickBooks Premier Contractor Edition: Best low-cost option to track costs by job with powerful reporting capabilities (3.24 out of 5 points)
You can answer a few short questions below to receive a customized recommendation for the best software for your business. Afterward, continue reading the article for details about each software program.
Best Construction Accounting Software Compared
$299 and $499 per month
$25 to $180 per month
$549.99 per year
Number of Users
1 to 25
1 to 5 (additional charge for more than 1)
Full-featured Accounting Functions
Construction & Project Management
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Buildertrend: Best Overall Construction Accounting Software When Integrated With QuickBooks Online Plus
- Estimates and proposals: Buildertrend makes proposals easy to make. By using a worksheet-based interface, you can modify your proposal and choose which columns will appear in the actual proposal. Also, you don’t need to worry about the layout since Buildertrend will do it for you automatically with a clean and professional look.
- Project management and online storage: Track important information with your team, subcontractors, and clients through daily logs. With daily logs, you can make notes and send updates to concerned individuals easily. Buildertrend also has scheduling features using a Gantt chart and calendar synchronization. Moreover, you and your team can access files anywhere through their online storage so that you can save time and resources.
- Budgeting: Contractors like you need budgeting as a precursor to job costing. With a budget, you can set sales goals with your team and impose cost control measures to maximize profit opportunities. With Buildertrend, you can create budgets, compare estimated and actual cost, and integrate with other financial software.
Our Expert Opinion
Instead of having its own accounting software, Buildertrend integrates with your QuickBooks or Xero account. While both of these accounting programs will track costs by project, adding Buildertrend can take your business to the next level by combining great cost accounting with management features.
For instance, you can communicate with project managers, schedule crews, and provide real-time cost reports to help your managers stay on budget. Crew members can save your office staff time by clocking themselves in and out on their mobile devices. This also gives you peace of mind as you can track their location while they’re on the clock.
Overall, Buildertrend is a great software program if solely used for construction accounting such as budgeting, job costing, and project management. But when it comes to bookkeeping, Buildertrend doesn’t have double-entry accounting, ledgers, or a chart of accounts. That’s why you’ll want to be sure to integrate it with QuickBooks or Xero.
Sage 100 Contractor: Best Construction Accounting Software With Basic ERP Features
- Full bookkeeping software: Sage is a famous accounting software program, and Sage 100 Contractor still offers the accounting features needed by construction companies. Unlike other construction accounting software, Sage 100 Contractor didn’t skip an accounting software feature. You get the chart of accounts, financial reports, journals, banking, ledgers, inventory, payroll, and others.
- Job costing: The job costing features of Sage 100 Contractor are integrated into their modules, and you can review job costs by generating cost reports and checking job cost journals, labor journals, and billing summaries.
- Project management: Sage 100 Contractor includes project management, even with their full-featured accounting software. You can create task lists, operation statuses, generate daily field reports, and create correspondence.
Our Expert Opinion
Sage 100 Contractor has been producing reliable bookkeeping software for 40 years. Sage 100 Construction is a solid choice for small contractors looking for an affordable solution with basic ERP features to avoid duplicate systems. Sage 100 Contractor allows you to manage project activities and record worker hours in the same system that produces employee payroll.
This helps ensure all costs incurred are assigned to your jobs. It lacks some of the advanced features of a more comprehensive ERP system, but at a fraction of the cost, it holds a great position between basic bookkeeping software and extravagant ERP systems.
However, we recommend choosing Buildertrend over Sage 100 Contractor if you’re an existing QuickBooks user who’s happy with your software. It’s better and easier that way since there’s no need to migrate your QuickBooks data into Sage 100 Contractor. To avoid the hassle of data migration, it’s best to get Buildertrend and integrate with QuickBooks instead.
QuickBooks Online Plus: Best General Purpose Accounting Software for Construction Companies
- Class and location tracking: QuickBooks Online lets you create classes to classify your transactions. Classes can be a profit center, such as the roofing division, or an aspect of your operations like the assembly department. You can also set locations to monitor income and expenses per location, especially for branches.
- External accountant access: Construction accounting can be complicated. With QuickBooks Online, you can invite an external certified public accountant (CPA) to manage your books and fix your records to comply with reporting requirements for the IRS or concerned government agencies.
- Invoice tracking: The invoicing process is an important part of construction accounting. With QuickBooks Online, you can track client invoices and add billable hours to invoices easily. QuickBooks Online’s invoicing tracking feature can help you manage invoice status, collection reminders, and payments.
Our Expert Opinion
QuickBooks Online is our choice for best overall Small Business Accounting Software and will do a sufficient job for contractors even without the Buildertrend integration recommended above. Employees can submit their time from the field, and you track income and expenses by job. The biggest shortcoming is that estimates cannot be converted to budgets for comparison to actual job expenses. You’ll probably want to save the estimates in Excel and then compare them to the actual job costs report, which can also be exported to Excel. If comparing actual to estimated costs is important to you, consider Sage 100 Contractor instead of QuickBooks Online.
JOBPOWER: Best Affordable ERP Software With GPS Tracking of Employees
- Job costing and budgeting: JOBPOWER combines job costing and budgeting in a single platform. You can create budgets in the software or import data from Excel. Moreover, you can conduct variance analysis of projected and actual budgets to measure performance. You can also track specific job details like job progress and job cost history.
- Cloud accessibility: Through JOBPOWER cloud, you can access the software whether you’re in the field, office, or working from home. We like this feature for construction accounting because it can be accessed even during fieldwork.
- Expanded accounts receivable (A/R) and accounts payable (A/P) management: JOBPOWER offers expanded A/R and A/P features to help your construction company keep track of customer invoices and vendor billings. For A/R, you can bill clients through various means like American Institute of Architects (AIA) billing, unit billing, or time and material billing. For A/P, they have a subcontract module wherein you can track retainage, change orders, and payments.
Our Expert Opinion
JOBPOWER offers both employee location tracking and tool management, which are both extremely useful features for contractors. The tool management feature allows you to set up hourly rates to charge to jobs when owned equipment is used, as well as track repairs and maintenance by tool. JOBPOWER also has powerful construction accounting with job budgeting, change orders, processing of lien waivers, and excellent job cost reporting.
Without an add-on, you’ll need to import your estimates from Excel into JOBPOWER. If you do a lot of estimates, Sage 100 Contractor has an estimating module wherein you can create job budgets within the software.
QuickBooks Desktop Premier: Best Low-cost Option for Tracking Costs by Job
- Estimates: You can create and send estimates to clients. With QuickBooks Desktop Premier, you can include details in your proposals to show the client the breakdown of costs for the job.
- Robust reporting: QuickBooks offers industry-specific reports for construction accounting. You can create reports to analyze job profitability, actual versus budget reports, job progress billings, and much more.
- Job costing center: If you handle many jobs in your company, QuickBooks Desktop Premier’s Job Costing Center provides an overview of the top three most profitable jobs and the bottom three least profitable jobs. However, you can see the profitability of all jobs as well. It even has job costing highlights that present actual costs variances, unassigned expenses, and outstanding bills.
Our Expert Analysis
Before QuickBooks Online, QuickBooks Desktop Premier was the dominant small business accounting software. It continues to be updated and supported and provides exceptional value for a business that doesn’t require mobile accounting software. The contractor features of Desktop Premier offer exceptional job cost reporting. You can create estimates and convert them to job budgets, which can then be compared to real-time costs as they are entered. Payroll software is integrated―for a separate fee―and can charge jobs for direct labor as well as the associated payroll taxes.
To use QuickBooks Desktop Premier anywhere, you need a hosting service, which entails additional costs. An easier alternative for Premier would be QuickBooks Online. QuickBooks Online is cloud-based and accessible through a web browser or mobile app. We recommend going with QuickBooks Online if you need mobile accounting.
How to Choose Contractor Accounting Software
Construction companies have a range of options when selecting accounting software, from general-purpose to large ERP software which integrates your accounting with things like project management, estimating, service management, and human resources (HR). However, there are some necessities that every contractor’s accounting software should provide, even if you are a one-person company.
When General-purpose Accounting Software Is Enough
If your construction company is small enough that you can personally oversee the day-to-day operations, you may not need many of the advanced tools of ERP software. In this case, you might be served well with less expensive general-purpose accounting software that has at least the following features:
- Good general accounting: Your accounting software should invoice customers, manage unpaid bills, import and reconcile bank account activities, and print checks.
- Integrated job costing: Knowing how much profit or loss you make on particular projects is important for identifying inefficiencies and deciding how to bid on future jobs. Integrating job costing with accounting ensures that every expense on your books is assigned to either a job or overhead.
- Reporting: At the very least, your accounting software needs to be able to print a balance sheet, income statement, and profit or loss by job.
When to Save Time With Construction Accounting Software
If your company is large enough for two or more full-time office staff members, then you should start saving them time with good construction accounting software that allows information to flow from one process to the next without having to be reentered.
- Estimating: Good accounting software will not only produce estimates to send to customers and insurance companies but should also flow into reports comparing actual to estimated costs.
- Integrated payroll: By integrating payroll with your accounting software, you can make sure that payroll costs are included properly in your job costing.
- Remote time tracking: Remote time tracking allows workers to track their own time.
When to Upgrade to ERP Software
ERP construction software integrates accounting with other functions, such as HR, subcontractor compliance and management, customer management, project management, sales, and scheduling. While these are useful features, they come at a high price. We recommend considering the following questions before deciding whether ERP software is right for you:
- Who will use the software? The best answer to this question is “everyone.” ERP ties all the functions of your business together, so everyone should have access to it. ERP software is not reaching its potential if your bookkeeper and/or project managers are the only employees using it.
- Is the owner or general manager ready for ERP? The software is powerful and provides useful real-time information for decision-making. If upper management doesn’t access the program and only looks at periodic reports, you’ll miss out on many of the benefits of ERP.
- Can you train everyone? Even if the software company provides free training, you’ll need to pull crews and project managers off profitable jobs to train.
- Can you stay committed to ERP? Companies buy ERP software with the best intentions, only to stop using the program when people get busy and stressed. Learning new software will increase your workload and stress level in the near term, but you must stay committed to getting through the learning period to see the results.
How We Evaluated Construction Accounting Software
We considered a range of construction accounting software and evaluated each based on pricing, ease of use, general features, contractor features, and our own expert opinion. The contractor features include some items that should be included in good construction accounting software, such as job costing and estimates, plus other items generally available in ERP software like project management, employee location tracking, and managing equipment.
10% of Overall Score
Construction accounting software is sophisticated and generally requires the most expensive version of most software. Pricing is only 10% of the score because it’s more important to focus on getting the contractor accounting software that fits your business than to fixate on price.
20% of Overall Score
Ease of use is an important factor, particularly if the owner or other nonaccountant will be keeping the books. In addition to our subjective evaluation, ease of use includes the availability of customer support and whether common integrations require third-party software.
20% of Overall Score
General features are weighted to give more importance to features particularly important to contractors, such as tracking project income or loss, tracking employee time and assigning it to jobs, and integrated payroll.
30% of Overall Score
Contractor features include accounting features like creating customer estimates and budgets for individual projects. They also include enterprise resource planning features like managing jobs and service departments, tracking employee locations, managing bid requests, and managing equipment.
20% of Overall Score
Our Expert Evaluation is a subjective evaluation of a software program’s features, mobile app, and reports.
Managing a construction company is complicated, and good ERP software that integrates common tasks into your accounting system can be of great value. While good ERP software is fairly expensive, it’s generally worth it if you consistently utilize even a fraction of its features. If you’re ready to commit to an ERP accounting system, we recommend Buildertrend integrated with QuickBooks Online.