An Upscale Software Solution for an Upscale Renovation Company: How Jon Beer Contracting Uses STACK


Trained initially as a fine artist, Jon Beer transitioned into carpentry slowly – from custom art framing, to taking work with an established carpenter to learn the ropes of restoration, to finally striking out on his own.

His company has now been successfully restoring historic homes for the past 6 years. Jon Beer Contracting has 3 full-time employees, including Jon himself, and part of their work often includes designing the projects they take on, or working in concert with an architect to determine plans and specs.

They typically self-perform most of the tasks involved with restorations. Detail and craftsmanship are extremely important for what they do, Jon says, but so is efficiency.

The Pain of Pricing Manually

While working out how to price jobs, Jon went through a variety of process iterations. He began by going through plan pages and manually calculating every component – area, linear measurements, and counts. Eventually he created his own price book and worked from spreadsheets, but as business took off, he knew there had to be a better way that would not be so time-consuming.

How STACK Transformed Takeoffs for Jon Beer

Jon was working to move away from fixed cost pricing to cost plus, and he implemented STACK’s material takeoffs to get a quicker, more accurate determination of measurements and materials.

His process has evolved, and he now uses STACK’s prebuilt items and assemblies frequently, as well as custom items he has created. From sitework to finish, Jon has a schedule of items and assemblies that correspond to categories in his proposals. He has also saved all of the takeoffs that he uses to his takeoff library within STACK for easy access.

Takeoffs in Half the Time

While Jon is quick at manual calculations by now, he says STACK still easily saves him time. For bathroom renovations, for example, Jon will take a few minutes to draw up plans. Then, he says, he’s able to “drop that into STACK and do the materials takeoff in about 30 minutes or less depending on how complicated it is. That shaves about 50% of the time off.”

Jon says he sees more savings the bigger the project – so the time savings with STACK really scales. For larger projects where he already has all the items and assemblies saved, he can see a huge difference. Kitchens, for example, are often a lot more involved, needing more custom work and more structural work, and he’s still able to get a full kitchen takeoff complete in about an hour. “STACK just really lets me price things out easier and faster,” Jon says. He also really appreciates the ability to generate a proposal broken out by takeoff, so that he can see the data segmented in the way he needs.

Accuracy with a Side of Expert Judgment

Jon says STACK’s takeoffs allow him to be extremely accurate with his measurements, but there are also parts of his projects where he doesn’t require measuring each piece of material, and STACK allows for the flexibility to do it his way.

A couple of examples include framing and sheetrock. For framing, STACK’s prebuilt assemblies are so detailed that all Jon has to do is plug in a couple of numbers for his projects and he’s all set. On the other hand, for sheetrock he prefers to measure the walls but not take the time to set up a corner bead in his assembly – he can simply charge a bit more for that and not need to measure for it. “STACK is as accurate and specific as you want to make it,” Jon says.

The STACK Advantage: Efficiency & Data

“I love that you can build out anything you want to measure and price,” Jon says. “The assemblies, coupled with the takeoff, are the best feature.” Elaborating, he explains that you can take one linear measurement and apply as many assemblies as you want. For a self-performing GC, you could in theory measure your wall framing, sheetrock, painting, and trim all in one takeoff with a variety of assemblies applied.

“That just gives you the opportunity to have a really rich set of data with very limited effort,” Jon says. “To me, that’s the best part because if you’re able to really harness the power of your assemblies, that’s where your time savings are.”

STACK Secret: Linear with Drop

The platform is also very flexible depending on the user. Jon explains that STACK’s linear with drop functionality, which is primarily used by MEP contractors for measuring things like distance to electrical outlets, has actually come in handy for home renovations even though his company does not handle electric.

He uses plan view primarily without an elevation view, so measuring vertical trim for windows and doors was a struggle. But with the linear with drop option, he’s able to add in a formula to account for those vertical feet – and add a multiplier for the two sides of each window and door. Being able to customize things like this makes STACK ideal for all sizes of contractors, Jon says – it can be as simple or complex as you need it to be.

Quick Material Pricing Adjustments

With the recent fluctuations in material pricing, Jon says, it’s been extremely helpful to be able to adjust unit cost at the back end. His pricing is only good for 10 days now, and so if materials go up between an estimate and signing a contract, he’s able to easily make those changes in STACK and offer essentially real-time pricing.

Before and After

All of these benefits make STACK a valuable investment for Jon and his company. He illustrates STACK’s value with a story of a typical day, then and now: before STACK, he might be at the table in the evening or on the weekend with plans, highlighters, and a notebook – getting it done, but it would take forever, and he might get some of it wrong. But now he can price out 3 jobs in STACK before he heads to the jobsite in the morning.

Jon says he believes many contractors out there could benefit significantly from the efficiency of STACK. If you’re ready to take your evenings and weekends back, give STACK a try and create your free account today!


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