Anyone who is in the construction business knows that managing a construction project can be totally overwhelming between all the different subcontractors, rooms, costs, and products that are being used. It can be hard to keep track of it all!
A construction project is definitely something you don’t want to manage using the traditional pen and paper approach – so what are you supposed to do? Odds are that you are already familiar with Microsoft Excel. You might use it in other areas of your business, but you can actually use it to organize your construction budgets too.
What is a construction budget template and how should you use it?
Before we go over what a construction budget template is, in case you are new to Excel, we should probably go over what an Excel checklist template is more generally. An Excel checklist template is a pre-made document that is created for a specific general purpose – such as a grocery list, a chore list, or a budget checklist.
Within this general template, you can customize it by creating your own items and individual tasks, and then checking them off once they are completed with any additional details that are necessary. Some types of templates can be opened directly through Excel, while others can be downloaded from various sources on the Internet through a quick Google search.
Using Excel can be an alternative to hard copies as it allows you to stay organized and bring your life completely into the 21st century. Not to mention that it’s almost impossible to lose a document on the computer as opposed to the relative ease of losing pieces of paper that you might use to keep track of things now.
A construction project budget template is a specific type of Excel template that is designed specifically for construction projects of any type. The creators of these construction templates, which can also be referred to as spreadsheet templates or a budget spreadsheet, know all the detailed work and planning that go into construction projects and project management in general, and they are trying to simplify your life by making a catch-all template that allows you to digitally keep track of every aspect of the project budget.
A good construction checklist template will include a section at the top of the sheet with important information about the project such as the project name, general contractor, architect, the owner of the property as well as the location of the property. Depending on the exact template that you are using, some of the other section headings might include an overall count of each task that needs to be completed so that you can gain a good idea right away of how much more work is left to do.
The next section that you might find on a construction template is a column to input the room where the work needs to be done, with pre-filled options like bedroom, bathroom, closet, dining room, kitchen, closet, living room, patio, stairs, etc. Obviously, you can add additional rooms if something you need isn’t already included but it’s nice to start with a base list of potential rooms.
The next column might be something like trade so that it covers the basic area of work that needs to be completed for that specific task. Some examples of pre-filled trades include doors, carpentry, electric, painting, concrete, plumbing, flooring, cabinets, etc. These are the tasks that might be completed by subcontractors – but we will come back to them later.
Then you should have a column with a semi-detailed description of the task that actually needs to be completed along with another column with the status of that task. Another couple of columns that might be included are a budget column along with an actual cost column to make sure that you keep track of your budget and don’t overspend on too many areas.
Anyone who has experience in the construction field understands the importance of construction cost and budgeting accurately. Whether it’s for home construction or business, a cost estimate is only as good as the budget. All of this comes together seamlessly when the project management has the tools and resources it needs to do so. For more information about resource scheduling, check out our guide to construction resource scheduling software.
One feature of Excel is its ability to compile, analyze, and organize data. You don’t have to pour through tons of data and do endless calculations on your own anymore! In fact, Excel has the ability to automatically separate and organize different aspects of your data within different sheets if the template is properly set up.
For example, you can go to a different sheet within your template and see a roundup of all the different tasks that need to be completed for each room. This is a great alternative to going through and manually counting how many things need to be done in the kitchen, in the bathroom, in the laundry room, etc.
Another breakdown that a good construction budget template will show you is your subcontractor breakdown. Within this sheet, you can see how many items need to be completed based on the area of work. It also allows you to add specific information about each subcontractor if you want like their name, company, or contact information if you would like.
It’s a great way to keep track of all of your information instead of flipping between your phone, your email, and stacks of papers in order to find the answer you are looking for. Odds are that if you keep up with your Excel template and really maximize its use – all the information you could ever need about your project budget is already in there.
If you are a visual person and don’t really track well with a bunch of text and numbers, the feature that Excel is probably most well-known for is its ability to take data and put it into a visual representation such as a chart or a graph in seconds. This is something that you are easily able to do within the different sheets of your construction budget template.
All you need to do is highlight the cells that you want included in the chart or graph and then go to the “Insert” tab at the top of the Excel program, and then select the type of chart or graph that you want to create. Excel can offer you a list of “recommended” options based on the data that you have highlighted.
From there, you can add a chart/graph title, create a key, label the axes, and adjust the colours of the data. Even if you aren’t personally a visual person, this can be a great feature to show your clients if they are looking for an update on the status of the project financials or to show your crew so that they can get a good idea of how much needs to be done in each area.
If you are interested in using an Excel construction budget template but are new to the game and are a little bit intimidated by the program and the seemingly endless cells and features of the program – fear not! There are so many ways that you can learn the program and become an Excel pro in no time. First of all, there’s no harm in just downloading a template and messing around with it on your own.
If you feel like you need a little bit more guidance, there are tons of different videos and guides out there that can teach you everything you need to know to create your budget template. All it takes is a simple Google search and you can find plenty of free or paid options to familiarize yourself with Excel and start utilizing the program to organize your construction project budget within a few days!
Lauren Lake is the COO and co-founder at Bridgit. She holds a degree in Civil Structural Engineering and is well-versed in construction workforce management and resource planning processes. Lauren has been named to the Forbes Manufacturing & Industry 30 Under 30 and Best Of Canada Forbes Under 30 Innovators lists. Lauren has presented at industry events and conferences, including BuiltWorlds, Canadian Construction Association, Procore Groundbreak, and more. Follow Lauren on LinkedIn and Instagram.
See Bridgit Field in action
Set up your free tour of Bridgit Field.