This review highlights the features of QuickBooks Premier Contractor Edition that will be most beneficial to you as a general contractor or subcontractor. However, the Contractor Edition also comes with all the powerful accounting features of QuickBooks Premier. Be sure to read our review of QuickBooks Premier to learn all about the general accounting features not discussed in this review.
What We Recommend QuickBooks Contractor For
QuickBooks Premier Contractor Edition is one of the best construction accounting software options because it’s ideal for general contractors and subcontractors who struggle or spend excessive time tracking the costs of individual jobs. However, like the base edition of QuickBooks Premier, the Contractor Edition can only be accessed from the computers on which the program has been installed.
QuickBooks Contractor Is Especially Good For
- Contractors tracking job costs separate from bookkeeping: Tracking job costs in QuickBooks Premier Contractor Edition reduces your work by combining the tasks of job costing and general bookkeeping. Like many small contractors, you might try to track the costs of jobs in an Excel spreadsheet. Not only will the Contractor Edition reduce your work by combining tasks, but 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 involved heavily, 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 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 that your project managers can plan to use them on the next job instead of ordering unnecessary materials.
QuickBooks Contractor Edition Is Not a Good Fit For
- 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 is a better fit if this is a major priority.
- Inexperienced bookkeepers: Unlike online software, your off-site certified public accountant (CPA) or bookkeeper can’t see your books from their office computer. With QuickBooks 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 Edition 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.
If QuickBooks Premier Contractor Edition is not a good fit for your business, read our guide to the best small business accounting software.
QuickBooks Contractor Overview
Assign direct costs to jobs easily
Cannot allocate indirect costs to jobs automatically
Analyze job profitability
Desktop software cannot be accessed from the internet
Create job estimates
Tracking job costs takes time to master
Track change orders
Difficult to share books with an external accountant
View unpaid vendors by job
QuickBooks 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
Maximum Installations for No Additional Fee
Additional Simultaneous Users
$649.99 one-time per user (maximum 5 users)
$499.95 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
Intuit QuickBooks Payroll Pricing
As with the base edition of QuickBooks Premier, the Contractor Edition has integrated payroll capabilities for an additional fee. Intuit QuickBooks Payroll starts at $50 per month plus $2 per employee. See our review of QuickBooks Premier to learn more about pricing for the Intuit QuickBooks Payroll integration.
Pricing: QuickBooks Premier Contractor vs QuickBooks Online
QuickBooks Premier Contractor is very affordable for a single user. For a one-time fee of $649.99, you get industry-specific bookkeeping software that lasts three years and can be used for multiple companies. In contrast, QuickBooks Online Plus, which does not have a contractor-specific edition, is $70 per month ($840 per year) and can only be used for one company.
QuickBooks Online Plus allows for up to five concurrent users, whereas QuickBooks Premier Contractor only allows one user at a time unless you purchase additional licenses. You can read QuickBooks Online vs Desktop for a complete comparison of the desktop and online products.
Pricing: Other QuickBooks Desktop Editions
QuickBooks Premier is one of four QuickBooks Desktop products. The other editions range from $399.99 for the one-time purchase of QuickBooks Pro to $1,213 per year for a subscription to QuickBooks Enterprise. Premier and Enterprise are the only desktop products that have a contractor-specific edition. Read our QuickBooks Desktop comparison guide for a detailed analysis of the features and pricing across all the QuickBooks’ desktop products.
QuickBooks is currently offering $200 off the first year of a Plus subscription to QuickBooks Premier Contractor Edition.
QuickBooks Contractor Key Features
Contractors and subcontractors will find these useful features in QuickBooks Premier Contractor Edition:
- 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 produce a change order automatically 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, 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 assign any payroll taxes automatically 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 invoiced fully.
- 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 wrap up jobs properly 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 three jobs 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:
Alternatives to QuickBooks Contractor Edition
Best for: Contractors looking for an integrated enterprise resource planning (ERP) system
Best for: Small contractors looking for cloud-based software
Best for: Great-looking invoices with basic project accounting
Starting at $100/month
$75/month for five users
$15/month for five customers
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. Select Contractor Edition, and you’re on your way to better job costing. Visit QuickBooks Desktop today to get started.