Pro Tips
Contractor Payment Schedule: How to Make BuildBook Work for Your Business and Get Paid On Time
Carson Miller
December 8, 2020

Like many builders, you’ve probably got a good back-office set up for keeping track of payment schedules, invoices, and billing. But even the best system can come crashing down if your clients don’t know when and how much to pay you.

Don’t despair: keeping clients accountable to a construction payment schedule is one of BuildBook’s many uses. In this post, we’ll show you how to use Projects, Posts, Tasks, and Documents to make sure you never have to hear your client ask, “What invoice?!”


Step 1: Set up a ‘Payment’ Group within your Project to track Your Construction Payment Schedule

You should already have a Project set up with Groups to track updates, material selections, and more for different collaborators — your subs, the designer, the architect, and, of course, your clients.

Since Groups are exclusive, an easy way to track a construction payment schedule for a specific Project is to create a new Group to collect invoices and track payment milestones. Name the new Group something like “Payment Schedule,” which will act as your discrete workspace just for billing, uncluttered by other project details and discussions.

Step 2: Create the contractor payment schedule

Next, be sure you’re working in the new “Payment Schedule” Group and create a Payment Milestone by adding a new Task:

  • Choose the correct Task Type: Choose "Payment Milestone" for the Task Type
  • Use consistent naming. By staying organized with your construction payment schedule as a contractor using a naming convention, you'll quickly know from the Task and Document names what payments to apply to each construction phase. Since invoices will be uploaded throughout the project, we recommend you give each task a clear, numbered title so they’re easy to find — try something like “[Customer Last Name] Payment Milestone 1 of 5” under Task Details. Later, when you upload Documents, you can use the same file name for easy tracking.
  • Add Start and Due Dates: The Start Date should be when they received the invoice, and the Due Date should be when the payment is due.
  • Add a description. Reference the name of the invoice and any events that trigger the milestone, like “completed framing,” “month three” or “25% complete." 
  • Assign it to the right person. As a best practice, a Task can only be assigned to one person. So if you’ve got a duo of clients, agree with them in advance who will be the main point of contact, and make that person the assignee. You can also leave it marked as “Unassigned.”
  • Tag it: Tap on Categories and create a new tag called “Payment Milestone.” Tags will help you find specific Tasks later on when you might have a bunch of other types of Tasks in the project.
  • Choose the Room/Location: An optional step, you can create a tag under Room/Location for which part of the house the invoice relates to.

If you already have invoices to add, then repeat this step for each anticipated milestone in the project for your contractor payment schedule. The Task list is sorted by default to show the Tasks due soonest, so you’ll see all the payment milestones in the correct order when you’re done.

Return to this Group as invoices come in and create a new Task for each one.

Step 3: Upload current invoices

A core function of BuildBook is Document management — and there are few documents as important as the invoice. You can upload any Word doc, Excel sheet, or PDF. Here’s a quick reminder how:

  1. Open the “Payment Schedule” Group
  2. Click the orange plus sign at the bottom center of the page
  3. Choose Document
  4. Upload your files via your device, Dropbox, Instagram, Facebook, image upload, Google Drive, or OneDrive (you'll be prompted to link the account you choose by signing in before you can view and upload your documents)

Be sure to match the name with your new Payment Milestone Task (“Payment Milestone 1 of 5,” etc).

Note: You can edit the document name and move, share, copy, or download the document once uploaded.

Step 4: Invite clients

From the Project, click the “Payment Schedule” Group you just created and click the tool icon in the top right, then tap “+ Add Member.” If your client has already been added to another Group, just click their name to add them. If they haven’t yet been added to the Project, enter your clients’ email addresses one at a time and hit enter or click Done at the top right. Click "Add Members" when prompted to send the invites.

Once they accept the invite, you’ll see an update in the Project telling you that they joined. So keep an eye out here and if you don’t see that, reach out to them. Remember: this doesn’t work if your clients don’t join the Project.

Repeat this step for each anticipated milestone in the project. The Task list is sorted by default to show the Tasks due soonest, so you’ll see all the payment milestones in the correct order when you’re done.

Step 5: Set expectations for your contractor payment schedule

Now that you’ve got an awesome set up for your contractor payment schedule and plan to use this space to track all invoices and payment milestones for the project, create a post explaining your intention to the Project members. This ensures no one is caught off-guard or thinks you're just lobbing invoices at them. Try something like this:

Hey Team - I created this new Group for “XYZ” Project to keep track of our construction payment schedule. We’ll limit the members to just us, so we can have discreet conversations about budget and billing. For everything else — like selections, schedule, site updates — please refer to our other Group, [insert Group name here]. 

I’ve created a payments schedule in Tasks and uploaded any current invoices in the Documents section. Please take a look. If you have questions, simply comment on those items or create a new Post and I'll respond ASAP. 

Remember that the most recent Posts will float to the top — so we do this step last to make sure clients see it when they first log in.

Conclusion (and Bonus Tip)

Alright, you’re ready to get paid. In the extremely unlikely event that the schedule should shift (ha ha ha), you can always edit a Task to reflect the new dates. (Just hit those handy “three dots” on the Task detail and tap "edit”). And if you’ve agreed on a scope or material change in the project, use Documents to upload a change order, followed by a Change Order Task. Then, create a new Payment Task o track the amount and status.

Hopefully, you found this easy and helpful. As always, feel free to reach out to us with any questions or for more advice on how to make BuildBook work for you.

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