SMALL BUILDERS USED TO BE OVERLOOKED by builder software companies, but that's changed as Constellation HomeBuilder Systems seeks to revive BuildSoft; BuildLinks and Corecon keep making improvements; and products such as the Web-based cost-estimating system 6x6 Builder, by 6x6-Builder.com, hit the market.

Joining those offerings is BuilderTREND by BuilderTREND Solutions of Omaha, Neb., the latest software to target small builders. The product, developed by a trio of high school buddies who reunited after college, now boasts about 100 builder customers.

Dan Houghton, one of the company's founders, says that by improving communications through the use of a Web portal, the software makes builders more efficient in at least three ways: Supers spend less time on the telephone answering routine scheduling or change-order questions; change orders are processed with fewer errors; and warranty claims are processed and executed more quickly.

“I wrote a database in Microsoft Access for our change orders, but it became very difficult to keep track of everyone's information ... plus I had to do everything manually,” says Mary Coonce, vice president at Porchfront Homes in Boulder, Colo., a custom builder that does about 20 to 30 homes a year.

A BuilderTREND user for the past several months, Coonce says that what's great about the software is that all the important business functions, such as scheduling, purchase orders, and change orders, are integrated in one system.

BuilderTREND costs $2,000 for a one-time setup; additional pricing starts at $415 per home for six houses.

BUYER VIEW: BuilderTREND lets custom home buyers view their home's latest construction  photos plus a modified view of the production schedule.
BUYER VIEW: BuilderTREND lets custom home buyers view their home's latest construction photos plus a modified view of the production schedule.