One thing that home builders should always strive to search for is ways to make their job not necessarily easier, but at least more efficient. For years this was accomplished with increasing advances in the technology of tools as well as more detailed and comprehendable blueprints.
The next wave of home building efficiency is here and lies within online resources and apps that homeowners can use for virtually every aspect of the construction process. Here are 95 of them to explore:
Fieldwire is a jobsite blueprint viewer available for your mobile phone. Some of the features include the ability to prioritize tasks as well as report progress and issues so that all team members can be updated in real time.
One of the most realistic 3D home design tools on the market. The Homestyler allows both contractors and clients to sample different designs and layouts to find the perfect layout for their style preferences.
BuildTools is the optimum project management hub that allows collaboration on a variety of features such as schedule, budget, job relegation, change orders, and more all through a Smart phone or tablet.
A very basic blueprint tool that is free and easy to use. This program also features a garden builder to assist with exterior curb appeal and also includes 3D and isometric views as well as the ability to print from the web.
A great interior design application that is suitable for both customers and contractors. Rearrange 3D items throughout your virtual home to get an example of how various rooms can serve different functions all with a few clicks of a button.
A great product for real estate agents or home builders/flippers, the IdeaRoom software puts plans of existing houses on the market on your website. Customers can take a virtual 3D walk-through of the house as well as choose customizable options (siding, roofing, etc) and see the changes updated immediately.
Dropbox is an online file-sharing and cloud storage website that can serve as a sort of virtual meeting room for home builders. Different members of the project management team can share files and blueprints to the cloud without having to run a long and expansive e-mail chain.
Using satellite imaging the EagleView software calculates roof and wall measurements that can be used to accurately estimate the amount of siding, shingles, or other materials needed for the job. Saves time in measuring and money in waste or restocking fees.
Evernote is an app that helps you keep organized. It allows you to set goals and deadlines as well as track progress, sharing with teams across a number of platforms in instantly-synched results.
A great app for use in time and material jobs as it allows simple input of hours worked and money spent for the project. Additionally features a number of built-in formulas to help with the job itself such as square foot calculator, brick calculator, plywood calculator, and many, many more.
An iOS app that teaches the basics of home design, allowing users to "build" many different styles of homes as well as garden and lanscape features to teach about curb appeal.
Ideal for small home construction crews where the owner is also the accountant and the builder among many other things. Invoice2go allows the creation of invoices instantly on a phone, emailing them to customers directly at the end of the job to reduce the amount of time it takes to get paid.
Like a spreadsheet on steroids, Wave Accounting helps you track the progress of invoices and view transactions (payments, payroll, expenses, etc.) in an easy to read and sortable format. Plus it's 100% free!
A nice numbers app that gives contractors the ability to calculate the amount of boardfeet in lumber that they have on a jobsite. Even includes a weight calculator that can be fine-tuned to the type of wood that is being used.
An innovative app that allows users to create accurate blueprints using only their iOS devices. By tracking corners and using the camera built into the device, floorplans can be created of the exact room saving minutes if not hours in the drafting process. Sister program Floorplanner also allows for 3D decoration and evaluation off that same blueprint.
Big Blue Pixel works by taking pictures and then drawing in dimensions. This works as a great way to communicate from the job site to the general contractor, either from the construction crew or the customer. Take a picture of the exact wall and draw in distance from floor to ceiling, from window to door, and other measurements that may be needed for clearance issues.
Sketchbook seems originally designed for artists to share examples of their work with others but it is also a viable tool in home building. Instead of using the traditional tavern napkin, contractors can send customers professional sketches of their ideas and customers can in return collaborate on the piece and email back with their prospective changes.
A great tool to use to guarantee items in a home build are spaced out correctly. The user simply inputs the number and thickness of the items to be placed (spindles, joists, shelf ledges, etc.) and the distance to be covered and the tool returns the distance needed between the pieces. Avoids the unsightly 'leftovers' at the end of a run.
Task Coach is a productivity and planning tool that helps contractors know where they stand both within a project and in terms of upcoming tasks. The easy-to-use interface features a subject (name of the task), category, start date, and due date to easily recognize if you are ahead or behind of schedule and how to plan accordingly.
One of the convenient things about a product like a Kindle is the ability to carry multiple books in a single device. The Kohler catalogs app works in much of the same way, allowing access to the company's plumbing and fixture literature which can include a products catalog, installation manuals, and similar interactive documents.
The Marvin iPad app features all of the company's windows and doors available to convenienly browse through and share with a customer. Also features a custom designer function which enables the creation of non-traditional size and style windows and doors.
An app that comes from Sherwin-Williams, the ColorSnap visualizer enables replicating of that perfect shade, however exotic it may be. Users simply snap a picture of an object in the real-world and the program looks up the exact Sherwin-Williams swatch (4 digit number and color name) that is the closest match.
A deck design tool that first off assists in measuring the area for the build as well as explaining the different parts of the deck. From there the app allows the user to build a virtual deck and experiment with different finishes and textures as well as railing material and lighting. Also, gives a material list of the items needed to build that exact deck on your property.
The support beam is arguably the most important part of a deck as it transfers the weight from the floor joists onto the posts and concrete footings. Therefore, finding the right size beam is very important and the sizing app works by inputting just three measurements (floor load, post spacing, and joist length) to receive an output of the correct size beam per code. This creates a safe and secure deck but also eliminates unnecessary columns and thus saves material costs as well.
By using the height of your phone's camera lens as well as the tilt angle, your Android or iOS device can actually be used with the EasyMeasure app to calculate distance, length, and width. This is especially helpful on a job site to take pictures of the build and know these exact measurements for a number of reasons (ensure they are to print, calculate material need, etc.)
Using satellite imagery combined with the Geo Elevation iOS app, home builders can view a cross section of the elevation of a lot they are going to build on. After drawing two points on the map, a 2D map is displayed showing the height of the area. This is especially useful for builders to identify hilly areas or land that could be prone to flooding or septic tank issues.
The Homesnap app allows potential home buyers a real-time look at houses that are for sale. Not only that, by browsing through the satellite imagery and then clicking on a house you will receive detailed information about the home values, layout, interior photos, and even taxes information, property line, and school district location. The app is powered by the same MLS listing real estate agents use.
Many contractors have been out in public when a potential customer asks, "how much to build a garage?" It's hard to give a quote because of all the variables involved but with the Construction Cost Estimator the contractor can browse a database of 30,000 cost items and give a much more detailed estimate in minutes – potentially increasing business.
Project Planner is a convenient app for the general contractor in charge of multiple projects or builds at the same time. The software allows sorting on a project by project basis and features the ability to instill multiple tasks within the project. With easy comparison tools between progress and deadline the GC can delegate tasks as needed and shuffle around a work force based on the scheduling.
PlanGrid is dubbed as 'getting everybody on the same page' by hosting blueprints in a central location. This allows the architect, general contractor, builders, and customers to have peace of mind in knowing that the work done is the latest revision. Any issues between the parties is logged with the software and avoids going through a middle man to get the solution.
With GPS maps this app allows for instant information about the topographic structure of a particular area. Designed mostly for hikers or climbers, the program is also a viable tool for home builders to know the layout of possible development areas.
Gaia GPS is a topographical map trail mostly designed for hikers to evaluate and subsequently document the layout of a trail. This can also be very useful in new home builds as well, especially when doing construction in a heavily-forested area.
GPS and satellite imagery maps are littered with green and brown squares of land that are either fields or vacant lots. The Planimeter app can be used to draw points on these areas and get a subsequent measurement of the land area and distance either for a new home build or to know the size of an existing property.
An architect, contractor, and even builder might need to know dozens of formulas from every phase of a project's life. It can be difficult (and risky) to try and remember these on your own so the Architect's Formulator works as a tool to have them all stored for convenient access. Just a sampling of some of the formulas on the app include ones to calculate load on a joist, bricks required for a wall, wind overturning force, minimum window area, and many more.
This app is very similar to a pocket version of the Machinery's Handbook only for road building on civil engineering jobs. Included in the app are calculation formulas for pipe flow, accelerometer level, veritical curves and more.
Not every project demands the intense algorithms and 3D rendering features that standard CAD packages provide. For these small to medium renovations the PadCAD app is perfect. The program produces simply, easy to read CAD blueprints that can be created in the field with a tablet and then printed or transferred to a larger scale software if needed.
SiteWorks operates kind of like a digital voice recorder, allowing you to use a blueprint of a job site and create a number of observations in a window to the side. This is a great program for supervisors to use to create punch/snag lists, use a dropdown to define the building trade, input deadlines, define the customer, etc. All these observations can then be sorted and shared if needed to help with workflow.
The Home Builder Pro Calcs is similar to other jobsite calculation apps, but is more well-rounded with formulas across a wide variety of company ownership. For example there are business calculations (loans, interest rates), concrete, foundations, electrical, HVAC, and many more in addition to standard lists for framing, roof pitch, materials, etc.
A pocket version of the bulky construction calculator that most contractors carry around in their trailer. Of course, this advanced version of BuildCalc is able to provide much more function and user-efficiency than the traditional products. Included in BuildCalc are advanced baluster, stairs, hip/valley, and masonry calculations among many others.
While most building tools are useful for calculations and estimates, the iHandy carpenter is actually a tool. Well, to be exact, 5 of them right in the comfort of your phone. Included in the app are a plumb bob to help verify the vertical straightness of a structure, a surface level for flat areas, a bubble level bar, a protractor measuring angles from 0 to 180, and a steel ruler that swipes to measure distances longer than the phone.
The first thing that needs to be done before any build is laying the foundation. The Fast Concrete Pad Calculator reduces that time by taking the size of the pad and formulating how many cubic yards are needed, lineal feet of rebar required, and costs associated. Contractors can conveniently email this information to the concrete company to cut out delays in the building process.
Aconex serves as a project hub when you're away from your desk. By associating an email list, files, etc within a certain project all related documents are sent and managed to these specific project folders. This allows project managers who are on the go the ability to easily stay up to date across a wide variety of tasks.
Created by Calculated Industries, who are the originators of the traditional Construction Master Calculators. The app version of their product is great because it has the same button functionality and placement as the actual handheld calculators. A great product for use when forgetting the actual calculator but needing to do some simlar formulations.
Some contractors use Earthcam.net so they can monitor their project from anywhere both as a progress meter as well as a security feature. The EarthCam app allows for remote viewing and control of these cameras, including rotating them as well as the ability to archive specific dates and times and checking the weather on-site for the day.
One of the leaders in jobsite tools is also branching out into construction apps as well. The Dewalt Mobile Pro serves as a calculator and reference tool for jobs such as estimating studs, drywall, and concrete plus add-ons for electrical, landscape, trim work, and business math.
A building information model contains virtually everything there is to know about a structure. The eXplorer app allows for convenient sharing of this information with clients and contractors without having to print out information multiple times. 2D and 3D blueprints are included which also features a real-time 3D cutaway and other instant room information.
Buzzsaw from Autodesk is a way to securely control your architectural, engineering, and construction documents across a wide user base. Documents can be uploaded with 8 different access levels and is a useful tool for team members to communicate within a project.
This app could be considered a power estimator as it allows for multiple proposals in a fast and efficient manner. Each estimate is named and saved for convenient access and the program functions with an easy input interface.
The Sun Seeker app can best be compared to the program that takes a picture of the stars at night and relays information about which constellations they are. With the Sun Seeker app however, a screenshot is taken with the sun in the background and the results include solar path, the hour intervals, equinox paths and more. This is useful in home building to plan the layout of a house accordingly so that the sun isn't pointing into the living room, beating off a large section of roof at peak hours, etc.
The Home Maintenance app is a friendly reminder program devoted entirely to your home. This helps prolong the life of items such as your HVAC system or water heater by reminding you to change the filters, drain the tank, etc. It also helps document exact dates such as shingle replacement to know if a replacement will be needed soon or if the warranty is close to expiring.
Their tagline is "when I get back to the office is a thing of the past" which describes the basic function of the BuilderTrend program. It allows contractors to instantly update change orders, schedule alterations, checking off completed jobs, and more keeping everybody in the loop and helping to avoid forgetting to make the changes.
The SmartBidNet program is a way for general contractors to manage their requests for bids from outside services such as plumbing, electric, roofing, etc. The easy to sort interface allows all of the data to be arranged by service, by price, by time frame, and a number of other variables.
It's sometimes not feasible for contractors to have a laptop and CAD program with them at all times on a jobsite or in a meeting with clients. The CAD Touch program however serves as a fingertip based drawing software for convenient use on a tablet. The touch input system is specifically used for fingertip drafting so the prints will look professional and not as if they were drawn on Microsoft Paint.
With advances in touchscreen technologies it's only a matter of time before traditional computer programs are set up for only fingertip use. Fingercad is one of those such programs, allowing the user to create houses, bridges, floor plans, mechanical components and more from the convenience of a tablet.
For the AutoCAD power user eliminating steps and time is often key. In that case, REVITkeys is a reference program for iOS systems that features a list of 158 keyboard shortcuts. The program works as not only a reference app for faster AutoCAD use, it is also a learning tool to make these shortcuts part of your lexicon.
iRhino 3D is a display application that allows the user to cycle through their three dimensional designs. This is a nice tool for cycling through models and showing just the pictures without dimensions, text, or any other wording.
Carpenter's Helper Lite is another version of the popular construction calculators except designed for both experienced and novice builders. Some quick-job calculations included on the app include arcs, columns, crowns, rafters, stairs, concrete, drywall, flooring, painting, roofs, fencing, decking, wall framing, and board-feet formulations.
While many construction calculators have carpet formulations built in, the Carpet Estimator is created specifically for the industry. This standalone tool enables users to quickly estimate carpet and perimeter trim and includes 10 predefined shapes. The program allows for moving and adjusting seams and features detailed printouts for material and costs.
The Marui Civil Design and Engineering program features a number of add-on packages that can be installed depending on the user's specific needs. Some of the installations include 2D geometry formulas, curve calculations, fixed end beams, discharge capacity, earth pressure, and more.
Concreteulator is a very easy to use app that calculates the amount of concrete needed for any project down to the cubic yard. The application tells you how many 40, 60, or 80 pound bags will be needed and features calculations for slabs, footers, or columns.
The Concrete Calculator is a convenient to use online tool used to estimate the volume and weight needed for your project. The three projects that can be calculated include slabs (square footings, walls), footings (columns), and circular tubes. Each project features drop-down menus and easy input boxes for quick calculations.
Inchcalc is a must-have app for those who use a tape measure frequently. The program is a calculator but one that uses feet and inch measurements so the user does not have to do the conversions in their head and thus risk miscalcultions.
The Roofing Calculator is another online resource that can be used to differentiate the size and materials needed for your roof. The user first measures their house base area and the formula combines that with the roof pitch to give the roof area. This information can then be used to calculate the roofing material needed for the project.
Building contractors, real estate agents, landscapers, movers, and handyman services can all benefit from this app which creates a legally binding contract in a matter of minutes. The user inputs information such as start date, project name, details of work, and price and emails it to the client. Once both parties sign it the contract it can be printed and sent to legal representatives.
Being able to send and receive AutoCAD files from your phone does nothing if you or the recipient cannot open them. The app Drawvis offers a solution in being a .dxf reader that displays blueprints in 2D as well as offering the ability to make notes on the prints.
The main goal of iBlueprint is to allow potential homeowners a clearer explanation of the layout and flow of their new property. It is very useful for contractors and real estate agents to attach to a property listing so that viewers can visualize a walkthrough of the home beyond just pictures of the interior.
A very inexpensive tool (under a dollar) for performing quick estimates and quotes across six different trades. Programs include calculations for drywall sheets, flooring tiles, lumber foot square, paint cans, roofing bundles, yards of concrete, as well as labor, materials, profit, overhead, overages, and more.
Paint Calculator is a straightforward web site which allows the user to know how much paint they'll need for a job. Calculations are done by inputting height and width while subtracting windows to receive information on how many gallons are needed for both walls and ceilings. The web site features both interior and exterior calculations as well as custom formulas for extra precision.
Taser levels are a very useful tool for contractors to have but also a very significant investment, especially is use is scarce. An ideal solution is the sightLevel Pro app which uses the built-in camera to convert a tablet to a taser level. The app uses a bubble level and red slope lines to determine if walls, fences, roof slopes, etc are level.
Procore dubs itself the #1 most widely used construction management software. It is an all-in-one platform that serves as the central hub of a project, allowing various team members to delegate tasks, view progress, dial up daily logs, and print a variety of reports related to the job.
When working with wood it's not only important to know how the material works, but also why. The I.D Wood app turns your iPhone or tablet into a lumber bible, providing information and full screen samples of over 200 different kinds of woods. Some info includes the species name, origin, woodworking properties, Janka hardness, durability, and more.
The best way to give clients a real example of what their build will look like is with 3D modeling. Virtual Plan 3D makes this possible by being able to upload 3D prints to your tablet or Smart phone and allow customers to 'walk through' their new home way before the foundation has even been laid.
Most paint companies offer you a swatch to take home and virtualize how the color will look on your wall. It can be hard to get a true idea with just a small sampling though of how those colors will match when placed in the entire room and how they'll blend with decor. The Paint a Room program alleviates this by enabling the user to upload a picture of their room to the site, then mix and match over 2,000 colors offered by Dulux.
RoomSketcher is an online resource that allows the user to basically build a house in 3D. After learning the basics of the design tool people will be able to build walls, install windows, stage furniture, and create lighting on their virtual home. Best of all 2D, 3D, and live 3D prints can be made from the creation to make the online home a reality.
The 3D planner from RoomStyler is another online resource that lets a person construct a home three dimensionally. Users place walls, doors, flooring type, etc and decorate the room with a myriad of items. The tool can be used to create a future dream home or to model the one you currently live in to see how changes, remodels, and renovations will look before actually contracting a builder.
DesignMine is a web-based app that allows users to save and share design styles that fit to their tastes. It works in much of the same way as Pinterest in which users can create personalized design boards. One of the biggest differences is that after a style is saved you can connect with local contractors and pros to bring the look to life.
Handy Man DIY is an iOS application that serves as your right hand man on a construction project. From detailed guides, videos, and instructions to handy construction calculators this app is viable for both novices and the experienced home renovator. Some of the more intuitive features include a trim and crown molding calculator, project cost estimator, floor and wall square footage formulas, a seasonal maintenance reminder, and detailed descriptions of how to proceed on a project.
Palettes Pro is an app that is all about color management. Users can save different color palettes and schemes as well as create colors from photographs, web sites, screen captures, etc.
Perhaps the best feature of Planner 5D is that it serves as a design community. With over 3 million users, people can share ideas, tips, and tricks to maximize the luxury and beauty of their own home design. The site allows users to create floor plans and bring them to life with decorating and high-definition 3D renders.
For those who deal a lot with the company Benjamin Moore for their home painting needs, Color Capture is a must-have app. Installing this enables the user to snap a picture of any color inspiration with their camera and instantly receive the closest match from Benjamin Moore's 3,000+ plus colors.
Paint My Place can best be described as a virtual decorator and remodeler. The Smart phone app allows users to take pictures of their house (interior or exterior) and make changes to the color instantly and realistically. The inexpensive app is a much better option than painting a room, deciding you don't like it, then repainting it over and over again.
HomeByMe takes a three prong approach of 1) build, 2) furnish, and 3) explore a custom home floorplan. The website application essentially allows you to create and decorate a virtual home, then take an avatar and walk through it with different viewpoints. The program even features sunlight simulation so you know how the inteior of a house looks at different times of day.
SketchUp is a user-friendly web resource that helps people create functional and realistic 3D model drawings. The site offers beginner, intermediate, and expert level training tutorials so that, with a little practice, people can create professional looking 3D house plans and prints without ever having a day of CAD training.
Regular AutoCAD users will want to have the AutoCAD 360 app installed on their cell phone. It is the official mobile application from Autodesk which allows users to draft, edit, and view 2D CAD files while on the go. The app also syncs with the 360 Cloud from Autodesk allowing posting and retrieving of drawings via a Smart phone across a group of users.
BuildLinks is a connecting platform that links all respective parties of home building. There are also tools available for every party including cost analysis and work efficiency for builders, bidding and contracting in a single platform for trade partners, plus real time tracking and other online tools for home buyers. Data is stored in a streamlined manner and is very detailed depending onthe user's needs.
A software application for small to medium building pros. Buildsoft Pro combines the four major construction business processes into an individual platform including accounting, job costing, estimating, and project management. With these four applications in one central location, data can easily be transferred between modules and more detailed reports created for an entire project.
Co-construct is both web-based and mobile, an application that streamlines the building process and increases the level of communication between all parties involved. Included in the software are four staples of home and commercial building – selecting materials, scheduling work, communicating with the client and developing a budget. The application is built specifically with custom builders in mind, taking into account all the variables that often accompany a non-traditional project.
Builder's Helper is a multi-functional iOS app that has features available for the build itself as well as for managing projects. For example, the application features a number of quick-access formulas and information for jobs such as concrete, rafters, painting, roofing, flooring, crown molding / trim, and more. Additionally users can store information related to each project in a specific module including contracts, bids, images, blueprints, etc.
For large construction crews Synchroteam is perhaps the best scheduling software. The program features a friendly user interface that allows you to drag and drop laborers / crews into jobs and time slots. This is a great way to know exactly where your crew is at all times and helps with scheduling emergency jobs or maintenance based on the closest team or the laborers that are becoming free the soonest. A mobile app with notifications keeps everyone connected on scheduling changes and updates.
This online resource is a great tool to help construction crews get the jobs. It is designed more for the estimating and bidding side of the industry with the ability to store contacts and keep track of open bids. The application also helps with the bidding itself including formulas and cost management tools that help keep proposals competitive.
Skysite works very similarly to other file sharing applications except that it was designed specifically for the construction industry. Users can upload, distribute, and collaborate on documents in real-time which helps track project progress and ensure the latest field note and change orders are received and approved.
Multivista is a construction documenting program but one that does so with advanced photographic capabilities. Different phases of a build are captured via photo or video and indexed for future reference. Builders and clients essentially hire the company to serve as an independent third party to verify proper procedures and documentation were used – and to be able to prove it.
ViewPoint can be described as bridging the gap between the field and the office. Many times information from the jobsite must be re-keyed into the proper channels when returning back to the desk but this mobile application creates a connection between the two. Typical uses include documenting employee hours, tracking time on a job, recording equipment use hours, among many others.
Perhaps the ultimate safety meeting application, this mobile program sends notifications that help a construction company fulfill OSHA's meeting standards. There are over 950 meeting topics and features within the app allow for note taking for potential topics as well as documenting and printing for company records.
Roofing Calc is one of those tools that you wish you have especially if you want quick estimates for a roofing contract. It is a web-based calculator designed specifically to provide an estimate of the cost when installing a new roof. It is fairly easy to use and the results that the calculator provides is broken down to various aspects from roofing shingles up to ridge vent costs.