If you’re a contractor, you probably don’t spend all that much time at your desk. In fact, you probably have to handle your office work from the seat of your car or a quiet corner of the jobsite most days.
That mobility is exactly what makes apps so powerful for modern home improvement professionals. The ability to handle a task over your smartphone or tablet gives you the power to take care of work right away, rather than swinging by the office after a long day on the job. The best apps take some of the administrative burden out of contracting and reduce the amount of manual labor and time you spend following up with stakeholders. Here are six of our favorites.
DEWALT Mobile Pro
Every construction professional knows the old builders’ proverb “measure twice, cut once.” But what about when you need to find the square footage of that pentagonal shower enclosure your newest client wants you to build? Manual measurements would have you running calculations all day in order to build estimates and order materials. The DEWALT Mobile Pro tool, however, helps you approximate area and volume calculations quickly and efficiently for a variety of different shapes. The app also gives you access to area, length, and volume conversions. Plus, it has additional features for estimating studs, drywall, and concrete studs. Those are the basic features, but you can additional trade-specific calculations for carpentry, concrete, business math, finish materials, trim work, landscaping, site work and more through in-app purchases. With this app, you no longer have to have aced geometry to run a successful contracting business!
The more moving parts you have going into a project, the more there are chances for problems. Large jobs require a great deal of detail-wrangling and project management. That’s where full-service tools like Fieldwire come in handy. This all-in-one construction management app has a built-in plan viewer so you can access blueprints on your tablet or smartphone and add notes and markups directly in the app. The paid plan allows you to import and manage unlimited plans and sync them with your Box or Dropbox account. On the management side of the equation, a set of task management features allow you to assign work to subs and teams and communicate priorities and schedules. Team members can use the app to report labor hours and manpower for more precise billing and estimates.
Photos are a great reference tool when working with clients through text or email. Your next appointment wants a kitchen remodel? No problem, just send a quick pic of the room. The only trouble is, it’s hard to keep track of measurements from photos alone—until now. Photo Measures allows you to easily add measurements to photos to create quick reference guides. Yes, you’ll still have to get out the tape measure here and there, but you won’t have to be a professional sketch artist to keep track of your plans.
Many contractors already see the value in aerial mapping and drone surveying. The issue comes when you try to get it done; hiring a professional drone data mapping company is time-consuming, especially if the results of your map will factor into bids or estimates. Luckily, drone software and technology is becoming affordable—and intuitive—enough for those of us without CAD experience to use. And that’s exactly where DroneDeploy comes in. Use the app with any DJI drone to capture live data and create 3D models from drone flights. The software features built-in measurement tools for instant site evaluations. Maps created in the application are compatible with BIM, CAD, and GIS softwares, and they can be easily shared with stakeholders for better and faster communication. Now that’s what we call innovation!
Payroll can get pretty complicated when you’re running a construction company. The T-Sheets app from Quickbooks gives teams a way to clock in and clock out and track their hours—even when they’re working on the jobsite. On the admin side, you can use the app to build schedules, track payrates, and set alerts for overtime. And of course, all the information in your account can be exported to popular payroll programs like Quickbooks, ADP, Xero and Sage.
You can’t be a remodeler without contracts—you are a “contractor,” after all—the word contracts is right there in the job title. But clients often drag their heels executing contracts when they have to print it out, sign it, scan it and send it back. An online contract signing application simplifies the process, and DocuSign is one of the most popular ones out there. Using the mobile app, you can save contract templates for similar projects, and send them and apply your signature all from your smartphone.
With these powerful apps in your pocket, you can bring the office with you wherever you go!