California Contractor Brings Up Bottom Line

Software helps contractor finish projects under budget and on time.

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Before Roger Cromwell began using ConstructionOffice, he estimated for projects by hand. "Looking back, my estimates are a lot more accurate than they used to be. And I'm faster, too," Roger adds.

"Estimating and scheduling are two of the most important things for building," says Roger Cromwell, a California general contractor with over 30 years of experience. "If you can do a job under budget and on time, well, that's the bottom line, isn't it?"

Roger uses ConstructionOffice software to manage Cromwell Enterprises, a residential construction firm located in Granite Bay, California, just east of Sacramento. Roger began using ConstructionOffice Professional California in 2002, and currently completes 3-5 spec homes a year. Before he started his own business, Roger managed a variety of commercial construction projects including the upscale office building in Danville, California pictured above.

As one of his first steps when he takes on a new job, Roger creates an estimate with ConstructionOffice. "I go out and get bids first, then I thumbnail an estimate, and add more details as I go along," Roger says. When he writes checks or signs off on bids, he enters the actual cost into ConstructionOffice estimating. ConstructionOffice then automatically calculates the difference between actual and estimated cost. "At the end of the project I can see how much money I made, or the other way around," Roger explains.

Before Roger began using ConstructionOffice, he estimated for projects by hand. "Looking back, my estimates are a lot more accurate than they used to be. And I'm faster, too," Roger adds. Once he has gathered the bids, it takes Roger about 3 hours to complete a typical project estimate.

Roger's next step is to automatically build a schedule based on the project estimate. "The ConstructionOffice integration marries the estimate and the schedule together, so you can share information. It really saves me a lot of time. "

Roger builds his project schedule using the critical path method tools in UDA Scheduling, so he can plan to complete his jobs as quickly as possible. "Without a good schedule, you're liable to have your painter arrive before your sheetrocker," says Roger. "That's just a waste. With ConstructionOffice, I can make sure things go according to plan."

"It's really important to stay on schedule with spec homes," explains Roger. "For one of my typical projects, I could be paying $2,000 a month in interest. If I can finish a week or month earlier, I can save quite a bit of out-of-pocket money. And I certainly don't want to be late."

When Roger applies for a project loan, he uses the financing guide in ConstructionOffice to create an almost sure-fire loan application. "I use ConstructionOffice to manage my project and I show the banker the printouts of what I'm planning to do," says Roger. "I even used it to go back and get a little more money last time. "

The construction business is a second career for Roger, who's in his 60s. "I was a computer novice," Roger explains. "I remember when I first got a computer, I didn't even know how to turn it on." With the help of UDA TotalCare, a maintenance plan that includes priority support and automatic product upgrades, Roger was able to get started quickly. "Your technical support is incredible. I just call up and it's Johnny-on-the-spot. I get answers to all my questions," Roger says.

With the assistance provided by UDA TotalCare, Roger is now an expert when it comes to ConstructionOffice. Roger says, "I don't have to call much anymore. I use ConstructionOffice pretty well, I even changed the colors the other day. And I keep playing around with the software and finding new features that help me out. "

"ConstructionOffice is just another one of my building tools, like a drill or nail gun," says Roger. "Can't do without it."

Quick Facts about Cromwell Enterprises
Location: Granite Bay, California
Industry: Spec Building
Projects per year:3 - 5
Years in the business:34
Number of Employees:1 - 10