- ContractWriter is an Excel spreadsheet program designed to write Contracts for residential and light commercial construction projects.
- ContractWriter works by providing you with a Checklist of contract clauses from which you select those that you wish included in the Contract.
- Once you’ve selected your Clauses, the menu command Generate Contract will copy them to the Contract page, then number, outline and format them to create your customized Contract.
- ContractWriter’s Checklist contains over 350 pre-written Clauses for your immediate use.
- You can add, edit, overwrite or delete any clause on the Checklist, which means you can customize it specifically for your business.
- You can change the Checklist selections and re-generate a new Contract at any time.
- Follow the installations instructions to install ContractWriter.
- The installation program will…
- Create a folder on your hard disc named “PowerTools”
- Create a sub-folder named “ContractWriter”
- Copy a file named “ContractWriter Master File.xls” into the folder.
- Create a ContractWriter Files icon on your Desktop.
GENERAL FILE MANAGEMENT
- All your ContractWriter files should be kept in a folder named c:\PowerTools\ContractWriter.
- This folder will contain your ContractWriter Master File and the Contract files you create from the ContractWriter Master File.
- The ContractWriter Master File.xls is your primary copy of ContractWriter.
- Each time you want to write a new Contract, you will…
- Open ContractWriter Master File.xls
- Use File | Enter File Name to enter the new Contract’s file name.
- Use File | Save to Hard Drive to save the file using the new file name.
- The new Contract will then have it’s own file.
- Each time you want to make permanent changes to the Checklist in your ContractWriter Master File, you will…
- Open your current ContractWriter Master File.
- Make the desired revisions.
- Select File | Save to Hard Drive
- Replace the existing Master File with the revised Master file.
- It’s OK to replace the ContractWriter Master File with a file you’ve modified with permanent changes.
- Do Not replace the ContractWriter Master File with a contract file you’ve written for a specific Project.
FIRST TIME OPENING the FILE
- Start Excel, Select File | Open
- Look In “c:\PowerTools\ContractWriter”
- Open “ContractWriter Master File.xls”
COMPANY NAME & DISPLAY SETTINGS
- The Program Settings control many important aspects of the program.
- As you become experienced in ContractWriter, you will probably change one or more of them to suit how you wish to operate the program.
- For the time being, we recommend you leave the settings alone except for the two you need to review before you can proceed.
- Use Settings | Program Settings | Display | Screen Resolution to adjust ContractWriter’s page size to match your monitor.
- Use Settings | Contractor Information to enter your company name, address and phone number into your ContractWriter Master File.
- When you’re done, use File | Save to Hard Drive to save the file as a new ContractWriter Master File.
- From then on, when you open your ContractWriter Master File to write a Contract, it will already have your company name entered.
MOVING AROUND the PROGRAM
- Use the arrow keys to move around any page.
- Use the right side scroll bars to move up and down a page.
- Use the mouse pointer on the file tabs at the bottom of the screen to move between pages.
- Use Checklist | Lookup/Goto to view an alphabetical list of checklist sections you can select and jump to.
LEARNING YOUR WAY AROUND
- The fastest way to learn your way around ContractWriter is to open the master copy and go tearing through it for about an hour.
- You should check out every menu command, examine every screen, click every button, and try to figure out what everything does to everything else.
- Be bold, try to break the program!
- When you’re finished, simply close the file without saving it!
YOUR FIRST CONTRACT
BASIC PROCEDURE for USING CONTRACTWRITER
- Double-Click the ContractWriter Icon on the desktop to open the ContractWriter Master File.
- Use File | Enter File Name to enter the file name.
- Select a Checklist Template (optional)
- Use Contract | Generate Contract to generate test Contracts using the template settings.
- Select the desired Clauses from the Checklist.
- Use Contract | Generate Contract to continue.
- Review and revise as necessary.
- You may preview and/or print any document at any time.
- Use File | Save to Hard Drive to save file at any time, and always save the file at the end of your work session.
- Unlike writing specifications with SpecWriter, which are usually different for every project, you don’t generally need to create entirely new contracts for each project.
- Most ContractWriter users develop 2 or 3 basic contracts that they may modify slightly depending upon the nature of the project.
- One common strategy is to submit contracts without any mention of a Time of Completion, which may not be noticed given that the contract is picture-perfect in it’s exact outline format.
- However, in the event the prospective customer requests a Time of Completion section, you can quickly add it, along with all it’s conditions and limitations, and re-generate a new contract in a matter of two minutes.
- Start at the top of the Checklist, with the square box cursor in the tag column.
- Use the arrow keys to move down the Checklist, and use the small “x” key to select the Clauses you want use in your Contract.
- You may also delete an “x” with the delete key at any time.
- Always select a header for each section that you select a clause. The headers are in bold, dark blue print on the screen.
- Use the color coded left side column to remind you which sections apply to what types of projects (Fixed-Price, Design-Build, Cost-Plus, etc.)
CHECKLIST COLOR CODING
- There is a color coded column on the left side of the Checklist that designed to give you a visible indication of the nature of the adjacent clauses, as follows:
- BLUE indicates clauses that are REQUIRED to create a legally binding contract.
- YELLOW indicates clauses that are OPTIONAL.
- RED indicates that you must SELECT ONE of the clauses indicated.
- GREEN indicates sections exclusively for COST-PLUS contracts.
- AQUA indicates sections exclusively for DESIGN-BUILD contracts.
- These color codings have no effect on the programming, they’re strictly provided as a visual aid.
- Use Contract | Generate Contract to initiate the procedure. ContractWriter will then…
- Copy the Clauses you “Tagged” from the Checklist to the Contract page.
- Organize the Clauses in an outline.
- Insert the header and footer on each page.
- Use Contract | Preview this Document to review how your documents will appear when printed.
- If you wish to change anything in the documents, just change the Checklist and generate a new Contract.
- You may re-generate a new Contract as many times as you wish.
- Use Settings | Program Settings to access the Settings dialog box.
- Checklist Columns will display or hide certain columns on the Checklist.
- Display Caution Messages allows you to turn the messages off.
- Screen Resolution will change the zoom level to fit your monitor.
- The Default Directory is the location of your ContractWriter Files.
- The Create Separate Addendums allows you to select if you want the indicated documents to be incorporated within the body of the contract OR created as separate documents
CUSTOMIZING the CHECKLIST
- Once you’ve gotten used to what ContractWriter actually does, you’ll want to start customizing it for your business.
- First, scan down the Checklist, and use the “Collapse/Expand” feature to “Collapse” (hide) entire Sections of Clauses you don’t think you’ll need on a regular basis.
- Simply Click on the little ” + ” plus sign in the left column, at the end of the black line, adjacent to the bottom of each Category.
- Clicking the ” – ” minus sign will expand the Category at any time.
CUSTOMIZING the CLAUSES
- Most users will add a couple of customized Clauses to the Checklist, generally to address their specific business practices or local requirements.
- You can add Clauses to your ContractWriter Master File at any time.
- Use the F-2 key to edit the Checklist at any time.
- Use Checklist | Insert New Line to insert a blank row at any point in the Checklist.
- Use Checklist | Delete Lines(s) to remove the selected rows completely.
- Use Checklist | Insert New Section to insert an entire new, blank section ready for further editing.
- When adding clauses or otherwise editing the Checklist, be sure to examine the codes in the Checklist Format Column (see next section) to ensure proper paragraph formatting.
- Always save the ContractWriter Master File after you’ve revised the Checklist or added new Clauses.
- ContractWriter has a special column on the left side of the Checklist that is named the Checklist Format Column.
- The Checklist Format Column is used to enter letter codes that determine where a paragraph begins.
- Whenever you add or delete lines in the Checklist, or add new sections to the Checklist, you should review the Checklist Format Column to ensure that you have these codes set properly.
- The Checklist Format Column is normally hidden from view because it is not needed to create contracts.
- To display the Checklist Format Column, select Settings | Program Settings | Display then check or uncheck Display Checklist Format Column.
- There are only two codes in the Checklist Format Column, as follows:
- S indicates the beginning of a new section, with a new section number in the Contract.
- P indicates the beginning of a new paragraph or any single line that you want lettered in the contract as a subsection of a section.
- You should review the existing letter codes to understand their application.
- You may change these codes as you may desire to achieve the formatting effects in the contract itself.
- If you prefer, you may operate the program with the Checklist Format Column visible at all times.
- The Draw Schedule section of ContractWriter is the only portion of the Checklist that incorporates formulas to assist you in establishing the Total Contract Price and the subsequent draws.
- The calculations in the Draw Schedule are determined from the sum of the figures entered in the Total Contract Price in the sections above the Draw Schedule.
- To use the Draw Schedule, you should follow some simple rules, as follows:
- First, “tag” the draw descriptions you wish to include in the Draw Schedule. You may skip any draw descriptions that are not correct for the project, and you may edit them as desired.
- Second, enter the percentages adjacent to the dollar amounts indicated on the Draw Schedule. ContractWriter will automatically calculate the draw amount.
- As you enter the percentages, the program will also display the total percentage at the bottom of the Schedule for your review. Obviously, you want to modify the percentages until this number equals 100%.
- You may “massage’ the percentages until you are satisfied with the draw amounts.
- If you wish, you may also choose to ignore the percentages and enter the dollar amounts instead.
- Many Builders prefer to enter the allowances as a separate draw like a reserve from which the allowance purchases are separately funded, which is how we’ve written the formulas. If you prefer, you may change the formulas to include the Allowances amounts in the Total Contract Price.
- Of course, if you are providing the construction funding, or if you are subjected to using the bank’s draw schedule, then you would indicate this in the Checklist and subsequently bypass the Draw Schedule all together.
- I strongly suggest that you experiment with the Total Contract Price calculations and the Draw Schedule in the Checklist for just a few minutes to understand the relationship between the numbers.
- There are three sections of the Checklist that you may wish to have incorporated in the body of the contract OR have created as separate addendums to be attached to the contract. These section are:
- Draw Schedule
- Allowance Schedule
- Builders Warranty
- In the Settings dialog box, ContractWriter allows you to select if you want the wording of these section to be in the contract or as separate addendums
- The default setting when you first install ContractWriter is have the separate addendums.
- Use Settings | Program Settings | Create Separate Addendums to change one or all of these settings at any time
- Be sure to re-generate your contract after you have made a change to these settings.
- ContractWriter has a Multiple Documents feature that allows you to select a group of documents to preview and print together with one command.
- The idea is that most contracts are actually comprised of a collection of documents that need to be reviewed and printed together.
- Previewing and Printing multiple documents as a group is easy to learn and will be a great timesaver.
- To use the Multiple Documents feature:
- Select Multiple Documents to open the dialog box.
- Select the documents to be included in the Multiple Documents group.
- Select the Preview button to preview the selected group of documents in sequence.
- Select the Print to print the selected group of documents.
- You may change the document selections at any time, upon which ContractWriter will remember the latest selections.
SAVING the MASTER FILE
- Always make any permanent changes to your ContractWriter Master File. (ContractWriter Master File.xls)
- After making any permanent changes, always save the ContractWriter Master File by using File | Save to Hard Drive to replace your previous copy of your ContractWriter Master File.
USING CHECKLIST TEMPLATES
- Templates are Checklist selections you decided to name and memorized as a group.
- In other words, you can memorize what you’ve tagged on the entire Checklist, give it a name, and later recall that template at any time.
- Templates are intended to allow you to pre-configure the Checklist for typical contracts as a “quick start” for writing a contract for a specific project.
- For example, in your Master File you can memorize a template for a basic contract for a custom home to be built on an Owner’s lot, then use the template each time you are writing that type of contract.
- After selecting a template to get started, you should then proceed with reviewing the Checklist to make any necessary changes and additions.
- We’ve included 10 template contracts in ContractWriter for your review and consideration.
USING TEMPLATE FILES
- Template Files are ContractWriter files you’ve setup for a specific purpose.
- Template Files can be setup for your model homes, which will allow you to quickly revise them for a specific buyer.
- Template Files can also be setup for re-occurring projects, such as a standard home you build repeatedly.
- Don’t get confused by the concept of a Template File, it is simply a file you’ve already created for a general type of Contract, that you will open again and continue to customize for a specific project.
RESTORE EXCEL MENU
- This command will allow you to jump back and forth between the custom ContractWriter menu and the standard Excel menu.
- You may switch to the Excel menu at any time, however, we are not responsible for anything you do to the file from within Excel. This includes performing any of the items listed in the next section.
WHILE in EXCEL MENU, PLEASE DO NOT…
- Change the height of any row anywhere in the Program.
- Perform massive moving and copying of the Checklist Categories.
- Attempt to word wrap a line that’s too long for one row.
- Change the font sizes.
- Ask us to fix anything you did while you were in the Excel menu, and outside of our programming control.
COPYING CONTRACTWRITER FILES
COPYING CONTRACTWRITER FILES
- On occasion you may need to copy a ContractWriter file from one computer to another, for example from your laptop to your desktop.
- Each ContractWriter file is completely portable, with all the programming included in each file.
- Therefore, you may copy and run any ContractWriter file from any device.
- You may also share ContractWriter files with colleges by saving them on a shared One Drive account.