capsule review

Goldenseal 1.0

Watch enough This Old House, and you'll probably develop a romanticized view of the building trades: crews working happily framing walls, installing fireplaces, and adding skylights, all with a beautiful New England backdrop. Talk to people who run their own construction business, and you'll get an earful about paying bills, hiring labor, quoting jobs, and making the work pay off when the dust finally settles. Turtle Creek Software's Goldenseal 1.0 eases the burden of managing a construction business, giving small to midsize contractors full control over every aspect of their building projects -- accounting, estimates, job costs, payroll, employees, and equipment rental -- and making it easier to get down to the business of building.

Plumb, Level, and Square

Goldenseal's interface consists of a table with four main category headings: Jobs, Assets, Liabilities, and Costs. Each category can have an unlimited number of items, such as employees or projects. Double-clicking on an item opens a window where you can change, update, and add information. For example, double-clicking on an employee name in the Costs category opens the Employee Account window, where you can change personal, address, wage, and withholding information. The program also includes a wide variety of customizable reports that offer an excellent overview of your business.

Setup is the biggest hurdle, requiring that you create a record for each employee, vendor, bank account, and cost item. The program ships with a database of about 800 cost items, but to use the estimating tools, you need to update all the cost information to reflect your local pricing and add items that aren't in the database. Once you begin purchasing materials and adding them to inventory, Goldenseal uses your purchase cost information to update the database.

You create estimates by adding line items and quantities to an estimate worksheet. Goldenseal automatically adds your markup to the actual cost of labor and materials, providing you with an accurate estimate that you can give to your client. You can then convert estimates into Projects, with billing options such as Draw and Progress.

Unlike with Turtle Creek's bidding and estimating package, BidMagic, getting accurate estimates with Goldenseal requires you to have a pretty clear idea of how long a job will take. Also, because you enter items such as two-by-fours into the database manually, you can't create a list of materials just by entering square footage and wall lengths.

At the moment, Goldenseal runs only in Mac OS X's Classic mode. Turtle Creek Software says a native OS X version is in development and may be available later this year.

Great by Any Estimate: Goldenseal makes managing your construction business--from payroll to purchase orders--nearly effortless.
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