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Why Does My Estimate Look Different in QuickBooks?
Why Does My Estimate Look Different in QuickBooks?

Estimate items in QuickBooks are named and grouped differently than they are in ContractorTools. Why?

Dan Fellman avatar
Written by Dan Fellman
Updated over a week ago

You will notice that estimate items in QuickBooks are named differently than they are in ContractorTools, and they do not retain the item grouping from ContractorTools. 

For example, let's look at an item in ContractorTools for the purchase and installation of kitchen cabinets. This would be one line item, named "Cabinets", that includes a cost for the purchase of the cabinets (materials), and another cost for the installation of the cabinets (labor). When this line item is written to an estimate (or invoice) in QuickBooks, it will appear as two separate line items: one called "Material", and another called "Labor". Both of these QuickBooks line items will have the same description as the "Cabinets" item in ContractorTools. Why is this?

Another thing you will notice is that the item grouping and organization that you set up in ContractorTools does not get written to QuickBooks. For example, if the "Cabinets" item above was in a group of items in ContractorTools called "Kitchen", the "Kitchen" group will not be written to QuickBooks, and all of the items in ContractorTools get written to a flat list in QuickBooks. Why?

The reason for both of these questions are a result of the fact that, while ContractorTools uses a different set of items for each estimate (and invoice), QuickBooks only allows you to define a single set of items that are used in every estimate and invoice for all customers.

Because of this, if ContractorTools created a new item in QuickBooks for each item in each estimate and invoice in each job in ContractorTools, the list of items in QuickBooks would soon become quite huge. Also, users would be required to assign a QuickBooks account to each item in an estimate before it could be written to QuickBooks. 

Different business models

Why does QuickBooks work this way? The reason is because QuickBooks is designed for businesses that sell products or services that do not vary from one customer to another. The construction business does not fit this model because every product or service a construction business sells is different from one job to the next.

So, to bridge these two different business models, ContractorTools writes estimates (and invoices) to only 5 different items in QuickBooks: "Materials", "Labor", "Equipment", "Subcontract", and "Other". As such, when line items from estimates in ContractorTools are written to QuickBooks, each cost from each line item becomes a separate line item in QuickBooks, and the line item in QuickBooks is named for the cost type in ContractorTools: "Materials", "Labor", etc. Each line item in QuickBooks is given the description of the line item that it comes from in ContractorTools.

This is also the reason that items in QuickBooks are not organized in the same grouping and hierarchy as they are in ContractorTools. While it is possible to create group items and sub items in QuickBooks, these would likely be different from one job to the next, so doing this would again result in the problems of writing a separate list of items for each job.

What to do?

Estimates and invoices from ContractorTools look different in QuickBooks. If you're using ContractorTools, it's best to print/email your estimates from ContractorTools. Since ContractrTools does not yet provide your customers with the ability to pay by credit card, understandably you may want to send them invoices from QuickBooks (which they can pay online). In that case, if the information displayed in the QuickBooks invoice is not sufficient, you should also send the invoice generated in ContractorTools to your customers. 

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