BuildTools is a web-based construction management system designed for residential construction firms. It was designed with the help of custom home builders and offers project management, scheduling, service management, document storage, budget and purchasing, and customer management capabilities. BuildTools is offered as a monthly service with unlimited access and storage for your company, clients and subcontractors.
BuildTools is designed for custom homebuilders and remodelers, and can be used by construction managers, general contractors, and design/build firms that work on residential projects. The software is paid for on a subscription basis (i.e. month-to-month) and requires an initial setup fee for training, branding, and website integration. The monthly cost includes an unlimited number of projects, users, and unlimited storage.
Key features in the BuildTools project management application include a scheduling application, integrated messaging that captures project communication, bidding, change orders and purchase orders, photo management, document control, and budgeting. The service management application offers dispatching, work orders, contract management, and service orders. Finally, the customer management application includes features for reporting and forecasting, and a buyer dashboard.
Jim from 10 West Development
Specialty: Design/build firm
Portfolio size: 2 to 5 users
Most features are easy to use individually, but it can get complicated to understand how to use the suite of tools in an integrated fashion.
All the tools are there, but it can be a bit difficult to use, which hasn't driven adoption in our office. Some things need to be simplified.
It has lots of good tools, but it's complicated to use effectively.
I've been trying to get training support from the vendor since purchasing with very little followthrough from the company, and there doesn't seem to be any formal training plan.
The tool contains all the features that you are looking for in a product like this; scheduling, task list, document storage, etc.
While all the tools are there, the interface and integration of these tools needs to be more integrated. And the company needs to provide more training.
Get a commitment on a training plan prior to purchase.
Mark from Platinum Series Homes by Mark Molthan
Specialty: Design/build firm
Portfolio size: 11 to 20 users
The learning curve and setup is the key. Once you find time to focus on it, it is a breeze.
It helps me manage, gives me a dashboard, and helps me sell houses.
I use all aspects of the product. We did not start off using all of it, but we have now implemented all phases of BuildTools into our operations.
No waiting for us. It is addressed, but I have not had to use the support very much.
They are very responsive, and it's a great tool for our customers to see and use.
The schedule software has to reload to line date up to the columns. It's not a big deal, but you have to refresh the screen on the working schedule part.
All softwares take time to implement. If you do not have a full commitment from the entire company to move forward with a better way of doing it, then it will be a struggle.
Terry from Wardell Builders Inc.
Date: October 2013
We are a custom builder, remodeler, and service company in the San Diego area. We work in the higher end of the residential market with over 40 employees. We have been implementing BuildTools over the last two months and should be complete with implementation by Dec.1 (a four-month process). We are currently using Timberline for our accounting package and Microsoft Project for our scheduling.
We plan to shift our accounting to QuickBooks Enterprise at the first of the year. We selected BuildTools because of the integrated job costing with client and design team management features. It is working out very well. There are many options and almost unlimited user group features. We are trying to maximize this flexibility and making those choices does take some time. The biggest benefit of the software from our point of view. Forcing us to use consistent best practices while still allowing us to customize the client experience.
Producing billings is exceptionally easy and fast. A client actually commented on how clear and easy it was to understand their billing (this was a cost plus bill). The scheduling module is limited as compared to Microsoft Project but that is far from a bad thing. The RFP process is also easy. Project document control, photos, etc are very simple. The ease of integration in the field with iPhone and Android tablets has been great. Taking meeting minutes with a tablet microphone greatly improves accuracy and tracking. I could comment on each module, but suffice to say it does what it says it does and it does it well.
They are still improving the program. We have had a very close working relationship with Chad and his team. They have been pretty responsive but our company also has a deep background in project management and that may have an impact on how they deal with us.
The pricing is extremely reasonable and the database appears to be very robust. I would purchase this software again. A commitment like this is at least a five year deal to me and we selected carefully. I am very satisfied with the software.
Robert from My Deck, LLC
Date: September 2013
In general we like the software but it needs improvements. We were promised last year that their leads part of the software would be updated. I started talking to representatives from the company about how to improve it back in October of 2012. I was told these improvements should be in place by February 2013. It is now September 2013, and I'm still waiting. It is very difficult to get anybody on the phone/customer service. Over the past few weeks I have left three messages and have received zero callbacks.
Jim from Minton Homes, LLC
Date: May 2013
Minton Homes is a small custom home builder located in St. Louis, Missouri. We have been in business 25 years. We only build custom homes (no specs, no remodels). In the last 10 years, the size of the homes has ranged from 5,000sf to 25,000sf. We go to extremes to make sure we exceed expectations.
In January we attended the home show in Las Vegas. One of our goals was to preview all of the companies that offered complete software systems for our industry. For years we have been interested in finding a program that would allow us to "bring most of what we do under one roof", allowing great collaboration with all parties (homeowners, subs, suppliers, etc). After sorting through a dozen or so possible companies at the home show, we decided to give BuildTools a try. While we are not fully implemented at this point, I would say we are 75%.
So after 3 months of getting familiar with BuildTools and loading a couple of projects onto the system, I can tell you I am extremely impressed with the product and with the service Chad and his group has provided. Even more importantly, the feedback from our customers and subs has been good. While any new software program has a learning curve, the feedback from our partners has been very good, and implementation has been better than expected.
Every day it seems like we learn about another new feature. We are in the process of sending a project out for bid now and decided to use BuildTools for that purpose. The amount of time we had in that process (as compared to how we used to do it) is reduced, and the ability to manage the process is greatly enhanced.
Managing customer selections is one of our biggest challenges; has been for years. I have to say that BuildTools significantly enhances things on our side and even more importantly the customer side.
I was skeptical about the BuildTools scheduling program, having used Microsoft Project for years. After two months, I am not using Project anymore. BuildTools does everything I need to do and, quick frankly, the interface is a little nicer. Very happy with that.
We used to do RFI's via email. While that worked for us, it was hard to manage effectively. I love the RFI module in BuildTools. It is a very efficient way to manage information and get the answers you need. The due date and reminder dates are a great feature for those people that need reminders.
In the next 30 days, we hope to be integrating the budget with Quickbooks, so more on that later. I have not used the service/warranty module yet - but looks like a very good process.
In summary, great product; great service; saves us time; makes us better at what we do; helps further separate us from the competition.
I highly recommend it.
I'll post again in another couple of months with an update.
Jef from Forward Design Build
Date: May 2013
We're a small design build company focusing on high-end remodeling and custom homes. We produce design in house, and then provide construction services with in-house project managers and carpenters, as well as subcontractors performing the work. Every client goes through the same process, however, since each project is unique we always have unique tasks to accomplish for each job.
We chose a BuildTools primarily because of their task management feature, which is outstanding. From my perspective, it is the only option out there with a Meeting Minutes feature tied to tasks, scheduled events, users and deadlines. We had previously used two other programs that were awesome and I have nothing bad to say about them; it simply came down to the task management feature between these programs. This feature is fundamental to our productivity. The task feature is an undersold feature of the program
Working Gantt Chart versus Published schedule. This means I can go in and edit a job very quickly, with drag and drop functionality; I can pull lines for dependencies, easily move items up or down, and group according to my will, with indent and outdent capability. I can play around with different scheduling scenarios, without huge save and alert times. When the schedule is firmed up, I can Publish it and send out notices and so forth. Its a great Gantt Chart and very similar to MS project.
There is a Quick Book sync; Purchase Orders and Change Orders are tied to the budget, and eliminates double entry.
Picture sharing is very easy and fast, and not limited to 3-4 at a time.
Messaging is also very easy, where I can send an email directly from my schedule, selections, and tasks. I can then see this thread in the the aforementioned sections, or in the messaging center. This is also an undersold feature of the program, and it worked really well.
Another point of interest, BuildTools operates on a unique database structure, which avoids having to open and close a window every time you want to reform task. There is a marked difference in productivity and performing tasks.
The leads and prospect section is also very useful. There is also no limit on the number of projects, so I can keep all of our projects (large or small) in one place. The leads feature needs some work, but they are pursuing it.
Our transition into BuildTools was very easy and fast. Customer support has been very good and steady. They are a small, but growing, company and you can see the commitment to customer service. Using this product has directly led to increased project size, as well as increased productivity from our internal team and subs/suppliers. I can't stress enough the positive effect of their task management system.
I highly recommend Buildtools for remodelers and custom builders.
Matt from Craftsman Basement Finish Company
Date: May 2013
We have been researching our options for PM software after using another software for several years. I began speaking with BuildTools and did the online demo. The software seemed to offer many more features than what I had been using.
I spoke with Chad at Buildtools and said that I'd like to try BuildTools to compare to what we were using (BuilderTrend). They set us up an account. I did an online 'training' with someone who told me that he had just started. I literally had to show him how some of the features worked because he didn't know (I only knew from watching the online tutorial!). Several of the items I wanted clarification on were related to the sync with Quickbooks. The functionality of that interface wasn't working and I was told that it's coming on the next update.
After deciding that the functionality and learning curve was more than our company was willing to suffer through at the current time, I told Chad that we may be interested in the future, but we were going to continue to utilize the other software.
I was told that our account would be cancelled. When I noticed (6 weeks later) that my credit card was still being billed I sent an email. Chad replied with a copy of the electronic agreement that I had to sign before we could try the software. What he didn't tell me about that several page long agreement, was that they had locked me into a contract for 12 months and that I would be locked into paying a monthly fee of $249 even though I wouldn't be using the program. So much for the trial time to 'compare'.
I really have never had such lacking customer service from anyone.
Bottom line - while BuildTools has some great features, I will never use or recommend them simply because of the treatment I've received by their support team.
Jon from Regency Builders Inc
Date: February 2013
Regency Builders is celebrating our 40th anniversary this year and will do about $20 million in 2013. We build high end custom homes in the Milwaukee area.
We have been using BuildTools since its inception and watched how the product has continually evolved and changed with input from various customers as well as the team at BuildTools. This software has significantly improved our systems and ability to communicate with our clients, subs, and team.
We no longer print plans for the subs to bid on which saves us significant dollars. More importantly, we don't have to waste time calling subs for a bid. They bid off Build Tools; it's significantly more efficient.
The clients love it because we are able to store all selections, communicate with them more timely, schedule the home, handle change order and in general keep them up to date more efficiently.
I would guess that this is saving us at east 100 man hours per home. We do use this as a sales tool and it is a significant differentiator.
Lain from Solid Rock Custom Homes, LLC
Date: January 2013
BuildTools has been an excellent addition to our business! We have been a client for several years now and have enjoyed the fantastic feedback from our clients to keep them up to date on their jobs, especially our out of town clients. We were using several out of date products in the past that were not centralized into one complete system. BuildTools now gives us the ability to track job schedules, communicate to clients immediately of any changes, show current status of the jobsite (upload photos from our smart phones from the jobsite), and keeping track of all the job specific information that goes on behind the scene that the customer does not see. I would highly recommend the software and the team at BuildTools!
Carl from Icon Building Group Illinois
Date: January 2013
We wanted software flexibility enough to process production building, custom homes, and remodeling alike. Buildtools has the flexibility to perform.
Before Buildtools, Icon used paper processing. I custom designed and built a complete back end and customer friendly Web based system. Complete with all customer colors, selection, change orders, contracts, dynamic lot selection, and a flash drag and drop floor plan interface.
Implementation is still underway, we started with service and plan to load some clients in selection next month without adding there email address yet but extending them a logon. I was disappointed to have no training literature. I am underway building videos for individual process and workflow, but it is tedious.
Benefits so far are a more organized and full understanding of company warranty. Oh, and Scott has been great.
Craig from Ironwood Builders
Date: January 2013
My company builds custom homes in upstate New York. We were looking for a software program to primarily do our scheduling for projects. Once I saw what was out there, I became interested in using a more robust program to organize the budget and selections besides the scheduling.
There are many similar software setups out there that do many of the same things. Software Advice was great as far as directing us to four companies that offer what I was looking for. I chose BuildTools because they were claiming to have QuickBooks integration almost ready. Where QuickBooks would sync in each direction, with the budget tracking feature of the software. This was great, because I could see labor savings in this feature by entering costs of materials and labor on my own time and having it sync up with our QuickBooks file and all of our bookkeeping and tax prep.
After four months of waiting for this feature, it still isn't up and running. There are other features to the interface that are not intuitive. I was hoping to use this software on site with my Ipad, but the processing is so slow that I gave that up. Maybe this is perfect for a smaller, one man operation, contractor.
One of the other features that is nice about BuildTools is the selections entering and approval. Our current client logged in once and said it was too confusing for her, so she doesn't use it at all. If we are building a whole house, and the client doesn't want to use this software because it isn't intuitive enough for her, then this doesn't save me any time whatsoever. The scheduling feature of the program is actually very nice. It works great and is easy to use. But I don't want pay each month for a scheduling program. I have found other scheduling software for much, much cheaper.
The tech support was actually very helpful as well, but it would save them (and us) a bunch of time if they just give you a manual to go over all of the basics and be able to refer back to.
Jon from Regency Builders
Date: May 2011
Regency Builders is a significant custom home builder in the Milwaukee marketplace. Our homes average $1.2 million and we typically build or remodel 20 homes a year. We have been in business since 1973.
We are a systems-based, customer-focused, and family-owned company that has gained significant market share in the recession due in a large part to our reputation, quality, value, innovation and customer communication/satisfaction.
We have used BuildTools since January and it has been everything that we were looking for in a online management system. This is a part of our sales process and it has been an easy tool for our team and customers to implement
The BuildTools team responds quickly and fluidly to ideas and complications.
Mark from Platinum Series Homes
Date: May 2011
This program has exceeded my expectations greatly and it is the first program that I have used succesfully in the building industry.