MOST OF THE HOME building industry's management software is geared to production builders. Systems such as BuildTopia, BuilderMT, FAST, and NewStar do a great job for midsized builders and some of the big guys, but they're often overkill and cost in excess of $50,000—far too expensive for many small builders.

As an alternative, Home-Front Software has been shipping PrecisionBuilder for the past few months. The software module, aimed at builders doing 25 to 300 units a year, does estimating, sales pricing, and purchasing and lets builders integrate with HomeFront's Sales, the software maker's sales product, and Sage Timberline's back-office accounting system.

Daryl Shenner, HomeFront's president, says builders looking to get started with his company's software should buy PrecisionBuilder, HomeFront Sales, and access to HomeFront's vendor portal.

“For well under $10,000, builders can have a system that in the past was only available to production builders,” says Shenner.

Here's how the costs break down: PrecisionBuilder is about $3,500; HomeFront Sales is another $3,000, and access to HomeFront's vendor portal costs $30 per home.

With PrecisionBuilder's estimating feature, builders can take the estimates and apply retail markups that they can publish for their salespeople in HomeFront Sales. PrecisionBuilder's purchasing feature, meanwhile, lets builders create purchase orders for their subcontractors. Right now, most builders manually e-mail the purchase orders or simply drop them in the mail, but Shenner says future versions of PrecisionBuilder will have an automated e-mail feature.

Visit www.homefrontsoftware .com for more information.