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Job Costing Tips

QuickBooks job costing tips and techniques for contractors.

QuickBooks Tip: How to Calculate Over/Under Billings

You can easily calculate Over/Under Billings and Percent Complete from QuickBooks data IF:
  • You create an Estimate for EVERY job/project
  • You've modified the QuickBooks Estimate Template to include Cost and Markup columns and you utilize those columns when building your Estimate
  • All of your "Items" have been set-up to capture BOTH revenue and costs (double-sided items)
  • You enter ALL job related employee time and vendor costs using double-sided items
  • You create Job Types for Over/Under and Completed (with sub-types for years) and assign them correctly to your jobs
IF all of these things are currently in place in your QuickBooks file, this is how you can create a simple Over/Under Billing Report with Percent Complete WITHOUT hours of manual calculations.  To learn how, read the full blog post. Continue reading

Job Costing Payroll When Using a Payroll Service

Using an outside payroll service, such as Paychecx or ADP, is a popular option for many business owners. While using a payroll service often provides many benefits one of the biggest challenges or drawbacks is for the company that needs job costing. See this question submitted by a reader.

My company uses a 3rd party to do all of our payroll. We receive an itemized report back showing what we spent for the week. I am having trouble trying to get this information charged out to individual jobs. I track all of the hours separately in Excel, with estimated costs. How can I job cost this information?

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QuickBooks 2013 – Group Item Limit Increase

I’m a big fan of QuickBooks Group Items, I think that they are a HUGE productivity booster – but I’ve always had one gripe – they could only hold 20 items in previous versions of QuickBooks – which meant that you had to create more group items in order to accomplish what you set out to do. This has changed with the release of QuickBooks 2013. With the increased number of items that a group can hold, these item types will be even more powerful.

I often see users on the Intuit QuickBooks User forums asking how they can “memorize” an Estimate to use over and over again – why not create a group item that contains everything that you need to build your estimate?

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CSI Masterformat Contractor Item List

The CSI (Construction Specifications Institute) MasterFormat contractor item list is a standard item list used for most commercial building design and construction projects in North America. It lists titles and section numbers for organizing data about construction requirements, products, and activities. The latest version, revised in April 2012, contains 48 main categories or divisions. Two readers have asked questions recently about the CSI MasterFormat list - here's what they had to say.

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Payroll for Work Hours & Drive Time Invoicing Problem

Entering payroll for normal employee work hours and drive time and passing only the work hours through to client invoices is not only important but confusing. The following question was submitted by a reader who pays from the start of the first job till the end of the last job of the day (not including lunch break). I have my employees fill out a time tracker sheet each day that shows the time started at the first job till the end, drive time in between jobs, so on and so forth. I enter this into QuickBooks but I can't figure out where to enter in drive time to pay the girls their hourly wage on payroll but to not invoice anyone for drive time. Continue reading

Construction Payroll, Should I Do It In-house or Outsource It?

Construction payroll can be complex and many business owners wonder if they should hire a payroll clerk and issue payroll in-house or if they should outsource it. As a contractor a significant portion of your job costs involve payroll and labor burden (payroll taxes, worker's compensation insurance, general liability insurance, company paid fringe benefits etc.) and you need to have these numbers included in your job costing reports so you can analyze your bidding practices and know whether or not you made a profit on the job. If your payroll is not run through your accounting software you loose this vital piece of job costing information. Continue reading

Entering Bills or Checks in QuickBooks – Items vs. Expenses

Your business spends money on a wide variety of things - employee payroll, payroll taxes, office supplies (such as paper and envelopes), utility bills, things that you purchase to resell to others, and goods or services from others are just a few examples. In essence every penny that your business spends is an expense to your business - but how you record the purchase in QuickBooks does make a difference. When entering bills, checks, or even credit card purchases in QuickBooks you have the choice to use an Items or Expenses tab - choosing the Items vs. Expenses tab will depend on what the money being spent was for. Continue reading

Weekly Wrap-Up: News You Can Use 4/20-4/26/2012

There is so much news and information floating around the web - it's difficult (at best) to keep up! I've added a Wordpress plug in that grabs information from my Twitter stream to help me (and hopefully you as well) keep up with everything. Look for the Weekly Wrap-Up: News You Can Use every Friday. This weeks news includes news about payroll, job costing, videos, accounting/taxes, social media/marketing, accounts payable, quotes, certified payroll/prevailing wage, QuickBooks, organization/productivity, small business, accounts receivable, technology, hiring, Excel, construction, QuickBooks 3rd party applications, and website/blog creation. Continue reading
Live Webinars:

Webinar - QuickBooks Job Costing from A-Z

Having trouble getting job costing reports out of QuickBooks? Or maybe you are wondering if the information you see is accurate. Setup is KEY! Join us for an intensive 1 1/2 hour webinar covering job costing techniques and procedures on Wednesday March 26, 2014 from 1-2:30 p.m. EST. Sign up here.


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About Your Host:

Nancy Smyth, Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor

Nancy Smyth, Sunburst Software Solutions, Inc.
QuickBooks Construction & Payroll Expert


I've been using and supporting QuickBooks products since the early 1990's. I've worked with thousands of contractors, assisting them with QuickBooks setup, Certified Payroll Reporting requirements, AIA Billing and Weighted-Average Overtime.


QuickBooks is a powerful product, but learning how to use it in your construction business can be difficult. I hope you find resources available here to be helpful.

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