How to Track the Construction Costs of a Building in Excel

Updated February 21, 2017

If you are planning a building project, you can use Microsoft Excel to keep track of your construction costs. Once you have formatted the Excel spreadsheet and created all of the formulas, all you need to do is enter the information from each receipt when you purchase your building materials. The Excel spreadsheet will automatically calculate the cost of your supplies and allow you to accurately track the construction expenses of your building.

Log on to or turn on your computer and open Microsoft Excel. The program will open to a new spreadsheet.

Create a list of all the building materials you will need for your project. Enter the name of each building material on a separate row in Column A, starting in Row 2 in the Excel spreadsheet, such as for 2-by-4s, a line for posts, panelling, corner joists and so on. Placing each type of building material in its own row will make it easier to track. Add a new line each time you find a new building material you will need for your project.

Click the grey bar at the top of the spreadsheet. Double-click the column you want to use, then type "Quantity" and press "Enter." Double-click the next column and enter "Price" as the title. Enter the quantity of each building material you buy in the Quantity column, and the price per piece in the Price column.

Double-click the column next to the "Price" column and enter "Total Cost" as the name of the column. Click the cell just below that column heading and enter a formula that multiplies the data in the price column by the data in the quantity column. For instance, if the first price is in cell B2 and the first quantity is in cell C2, the formula would be "=B2*C2". If you prefer, you can type the formula directly into the formula bar at the top of the page by clicking in the bar, rather than typing it directly into the cell.

Highlight the first cell under the "Total Cost" column, hold the "Ctrl" key and press the "C" key. Move the cursor down to the next line and drag the mouse down to the last row that contains data.

Hold the "Ctrl" key down and press the "V" key to paste the formula to the remaining rows. Enter the pricing data from each of your receipts on the appropriate line of the spreadsheet to calculate the total cost of each of the building materials.

Place your cursor under the last line in your "Total Cost" column. Enter "=SUM(" then use your mouse to highlight all the rows you want to add. You can also enter the formula directly by noting the cell addresses of the first and last row. For instance, if the cell address of the first total cost calculation is D2 and the last cell address is D50, the formula would read "=SUM(D2:D50)." Move your cursor one position to the left and type the label "Actual Cost."

Click the cell under the "actual" total cost summary you created in Step 7. Enter the amount you budgeted for the project. Place your cursor in the cell to the left of the budgeted amount and type the label "Budgeted Cost."

Move your cursor down one line and type the label "Over/Under Budget". Move one cell to the right and type a formula that subtracts the actual cost from the budgeted cost. For instance, if the actual cost is located in cell F30 and the budgeted cost is in cell F31, the formula would be "=F31-F30". This formula will automatically update each time you add a new cost to your building plan spreadsheet.

Things You'll Need

  • Computer
  • Microsoft Office with Excel
  • Receipts
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About the Author

Based in Pennsylvania, Bonnie Conrad has been working as a professional freelance writer since 2003. Her work can be seen on Credit Factor, Constant Content and a number of other websites. Conrad also works full-time as a computer technician and loves to write about a number of technician topics. She studied computer technology and business administration at Harrisburg Area Community College.