Let’s face it, smartphones, iPads and tablets are everywhere. We’re checking our email, getting the scores from last night’s games and listening to music on these devices. With the growth of cloud computing technology we’re also able to access our critical business data anywhere there’s an Internet connection. With all of these capabilities, we can’t overlook another key functionality – the applications, or ‘apps’ as the cool kids say.
Yes, even in the construction industry there are some killer apps available to us that sometimes entertain, but most importantly enhance the way we do business. In fact as a software provider exclusively to construction clients, we see these apps as a positive counterpart to our products and services. After all, it’s about using technology to make your job easier. Inspired by a ‘Top Apps’ blog post on Construction Week Online , I’m going to focus on the ones that relate best to construction, construction project management and structural engineering.
SmartBidNet – This app works in conjunction with SmartBidNet bid management software. It allows users to keep track of subcontractor and vendor interactions from their phones. It includes both bid (e.g. status, amount, due date) and project information (e.g. square footage, location, building owner). The app is $0.99, but it can only be used by SmartBidNet customers using the iPhone (OS 3.0 or later), iPad and iPod Touch.
Procore – This is our favorite construction app. It allows users of Procore construction software to create, manage and share Procore project data from their phones. Specifically, users can create and manage punch list items, access contact data, share and store project photos, log time card entries and more. The Procore iPhone app has a rating of 4.5 and can be used on iPhones (OS 3.0 or later), iPads and iPod Touch.
Concretulator – This is one of two popular and highly rated concrete calculators in the App Store. It allows users to determine how much concrete is required for a project (by cubic yard and the number of 40#, 60#, and 80# bags). It’s a handy concrete calculator for DIYers and can be used by contractors as well. The cost is $0.99; it has a rating of 5 stars, and; it works with iPhones (OS 3.1.2 or later), iPads and the iPod touch.
Concrete Calculator – This app has an average rating of 3.5 stars and has been reviewed 22 times. It calculates concrete for square or rectangular slabs, circular concrete slabs and concrete columns. The app costs $0.99 and can be used on the iPhone (OS 2.0 or later), iPad and iPod touch
Fast Concrete Pad Calculator – This is another concrete calculator for DIYers and contractors. In addition to calculating total cubic yards, it will determine the amount of lineal feet of rebar required and the cost. Users can even send an email with this information directly from the app. This costs $0.99 and is available for the iPhone (OS 3.1.3 or later), iPad and iPod touch.
Drywall Calculator – This is the highest rated drywall calculator in the App Store. It allows users to calculate how much drywall is needed for walls and ceilings (or both). After a user inputs their dimensions, the total square footage is calculated, along with the number of 4′ x 8′ drywall sheets required. The app is $0.99, it has an average rating of 3.5 and it works with the iPhone (OS 2.2.1 or later), iPad and iPod touch.
E-Calc – This allows electricians and electrical engineers to calculate many common formulas, including: the full load amperage of any transformer, number of wires you can fit into a given pipe and complex voltage drop calculations. There is one caveat: it’s based on Canadian Electrical Code. Leave us a comment If you know an app based on US electrical code. It costs $4.99.
BuildCalc – There are many positive reviews of this all-in-one or multipurpose construction calculator. It has a price tag of $19.99, but it allows you to perform many different types of estimates and calculations, including: pitch, rise, run and diagonal right-angle calculations; rectilinear, cylindrical areas, and volumes, and; arcs, circumference, segments and arched rake-walls.
iQuick Contract Maker – This app allows users to create and email contracts to customers from your phone. The app uses templates and pre-written information for quick creation of a contract. It can also be used to customize contracts for your industry or trade. The app has been reviewed 13 times and has a good rating of 3.5 out of 5. It costs $2.99 and is available for the iPhone (OS 3.1 or later), iPad and iPod touch.
Drawvis – There are both free and paid versions of this app. The free version seems to be more popular with 259 ratings as compared to just 3 for the paid version. It allows you to view technical drawings (e.g. drawings from Autocad) so long as they are in DXF textual format. It can be used on the iPhone (OS 3.0 or later), iPad and iPod Touch.
iBlueprint – This app seems to have mixed reviews, but it has been rated by over 50 users, making it one of the more popular document-viewer apps in the market. iBlueprint allows users to create and export custom floor plans. It’s handy for homebuyers and real estate agents, but can also be used by contractors for quick access to blueprints on the job site. It costs $0.99 and can be used on the iPhone (OS 3.0 or later), iPad or the iPod.
iQuick Estimator – This is one in a series of construction apps from iQuick Tools. It can perform simple estimates for framing, roofing, flooring, drywall, paint and concrete projects. After determining material and labor costs, you can email your bid directly from the app to your client. The app costs $5.99. It has an average rating of 3 from 35 ratings. The latest version is only available for the iPhone (OS 4.0) and iPod Touch.
Fast Paint Calculator – This is a handy app for painters and finishing contractors that need to quickly calculate costs and materials of paint projects. Users can enter the dimensions of the room, enter the price per gallon of paint, then click calculate to determine the job cost. This information can then be emailed directly from the phone. This app costs $0.99 and works with iPhones (OS 3.1.2 or later), the iPad or iPod touch.
AEC Info – A simple news app that pulls architectural, engineering and construction industry news from Engineering News Record, Architectural Record, Builder Online and others. There are mixed reviews about this app, but it is one of the few apps that pulls news headlines in from multiple industries. The app is free and can be used on the iPhone (OS 3.0 or later), iPad and iPod Touch.
EcoFlash BD+C Lite – This is a popular and highly rated flashcard app that will help you study for the LEED AP 2009 Building Design & Construction exam. It has an average user rating of 3.5 stars, it can be used on all devices (minimum iPhone OS requirement of 3.1.2) and best of all, its free.
LEED AP Building Design + Construction – Similar to the previous app, this is designed to help construction professionals study for the LEED AP Building Design and Construction exam. The app includes 200 flashcards and a 100 question practice exam. It has received a 5 star rating by 2 reviewers and comes in at a cost of $19.99.
Green Pro – This app gives architects, engineers, owners, and contractors the ability to both access and track LEED credits for New Construction and Major Renovations. Users can access information about credit requirements and indicate when a particular requirement has been met. The app costs $3.99 and can be used on the iPhone (OS 3.1.2 or later), iPad and iPod Touch.
Do you have any other favorites that you’d like to share?
Please note the information contained here first appeared in an article by Houston Neal in Software Advice titled The Best Construction Management Apps for the iPhone and iPad. As he is the expert, full writing and review credit for the reviews goes to Mr. Neal.
Check out the Software Advice Buyers Guide for more great information and options on today’s top apps.