With the undeniable prominence of mobile devices, it seems as if there’s nothing that can’t be done with a click, swipe, or tap on a screen. They may not replace the value of hands-on effort, but many apps can help improve your efficiency—and ultimately, your bottom line—throughout each phase of the design and construction process.
Here are some tried and tested builder-specific apps (rated 4 stars or higher on iTunes), as well as a few noteworthy recent releases, that you should be aware of.
Planning and Design:
PlanGrid’s collaboration tool lets users share project plans, specs and photos with their team in real time. PDFs can be uploaded and then marked using the annotation suite, automatically updating revised versions. The app also hyperlinks detail callouts, creates synced, searchable punchlists, and allows progress photos to be pinned to blueprints.
AutoCAD 360, the mobile version of Autodesk’s computer-aided design software, lets users draw, edit, and share AutoCAD drawings from anywhere. Annotations, comments, and images can be added directly to drawings, and measurements can be validated while on site. The app is free, though a Pro subscription plan with additional functionality is available for purchase.
Also from Autodesk, the Homestyler Interior Design app allows those working on an interior layout or design project to either start from scratch and create their own floor plans, or take a picture of a room to use as the basis for a design testing ground. Two-D and 3-D design views allow users to experiment with different colors, furnishings, and products that include real-world brands.
Construction Master Pro provides the functionality of Calculated Industries’ Construction Master Pro and Construction Master Pro Trig calculators to provide a wealth of calculation solutions for home building professionals. Among its features: conversion of all building dimensional formats, full trigonometric functionality, right angle and calculations, and area and volume solutions. The app costs $19.99, and a user’s guide is included.
To quickly calculate your flooring, electrical, foundation, and landscaping needs all on one tool, download
Handy Construction Calculators. The app contains 70-plus construction calculators that use diagrams to help understand advanced input and output options and eliminate guesswork. A business management function also calculates items such as margin and gross profit. The app costs $7.99 and is available for Android devices; for a similar iOS app, try
Home Builder Pro Calcs.
Get a picture of the real estate market in a desired development area using Homesnap, which lets you take a picture of any house to obtain information such as home value, square footage, lot boundaries, taxes and school information. The app also provides MLS information on for-sale listings, including the most recent sale prices.
Great for small business owners or contractors, Expensify lets users easily track any business expense, including billable time and mileage. Receipts are added by taking a picture that is automatically scanned to create an expense. Multiple expense reports can be kept open simultaneously to manage different projects, and the app can sync with a user’s debit or credit cards.
New and Notable:
The interactive ResidentialComplete Wall System Builder's Guide eBook from Owens Corning can be downloaded on mobile devices as the Owens Corning Solutions app. The guide pairs sustainability data with insight from building scientists on which building envelope techniques, products, and systems are needed to construct a comfortable, energy-efficient home. It also includes information on building codes and certifications.
Azek Building Products’ iPad app is an outdoor visualization tool providing 2-D and 3-D scene editing functionality. The app includes options for the company’s trim and moulding, deck and railing, porch colors, and paver layouts. Users can select home scenes and mix and match products for customized designs, then annotate their designs and share them with friends.
Estately’s Flip app uses the swiping feature made famous by Tinder to make house hunting and evaluating fun and intuitive. The user interface displays cards with home information such as list price, beds/baths, and time on the market; swipe right to save listings or left to trash them. The app will send notifications about property price and status changes to saved listings.
Laura McNulty is an associate editor for Hanley Wood's residential construction group. Connect with her on Twitter @LMcNulty_HW.