Make your tablet your most valuable tool by downloading the right apps for the job.
Construction crews are more than just the stereotyped burly bros in sweaty T-shirts and hard hats wielding pneumatic hammer drills.
While construction projects can indeed be mighty operations with hundreds of people on hand to pave roads, build skyscrapers, fix utilities and install equipment, increasingly, a major tool of the trade is an iPad.
The brawn may handle the jackhammer but the brains handle design, architecture, project management, materials procurement, coordination, communication, and the myriad tasks of professional building, services and repair. Over time, a hefty cottage industry of iPad apps has evolved to serve this sector of the trade.
We scouted around for some of the best ones out there covering a variety of specialties and picked out nine favorites. Most of the apps listed are free downloads, and most require in-app purchases for specialty modules, additional resources or subscription services.
Fieldwire (Free with in-app purchases)
Out in the field, there’s no room for mistakes, missing details or miscommunication. Fieldwire, a construction management and punch list app, connects your entire crew via its management platform. Targeted to owners, architects, general contractors, electricians, carpenters, engineers, superintendents and others on the worksite, the app lets you manage your plans on site, keep your team in sync and work on your project offline in case your location is not connected. Team members can view drawings and blueprints, schedule work, manage tasks and track their punch list on-the-go. While the free version of Fieldwire is for small teams and limited to five projects, subscription prices start at $29 per month.
PlanGrid (Free with in-app purchases)
PlanGrid, a field-oriented construction blueprints and punch list app, brings superintendents, foremen, project engineers, managers, executives, CIOs and CTOs, in on the latest updates for their projects. Whether you need to see construction plans, markups, photos or reports, or are tracking revisions, viewing progress, and managing punch lists, PlanGrid facilitates all needed tasks — with or without an internet connection. Use the app to compare sheets, hyperlinked callouts, track and resolve QA issues, check photos, and complete and submit RFIs. All actions are saved in the cloud. The first 21 days of use are free, after which in-app purchases are available from $39 to $119 per month.
JobSnaps (Free with in-app purchases)
On-site architects, foremen and managers track a huge number of details, and visualizing a job completed or a problem to be solved is as much a part of the landscape as a blueprint. While your project progresses, documentary records of your job site, punch list, and completed projects are critical for the public record. JobSnaps, a jobsite photo inspection and reporting app, specializes in gathering photos of your project and organizing them by projects and folders. JobSnaps is targeted to building, construction, architectural, safety, project management, facilities maintenance, and infrastructure inspection. The app lets you time and date stamp all photos and add titles, descriptions, due dates, comments, tags and sketch markups. Free accounts are limited to 25 snaps with optional account upgrades available to increase the number of photos and provide additional features. Paid accounts range from $9.99 to $19.99 per month.
Autodesk BIM 360 Field (Free with in-app purchases)
Field management software such as Autodesk BIM 360 Field is designed for use right at the work site as opposed the trailer or home office. BIM (building information models) 360 Field is management software that works with 2D or 3D drawings and models, facilitating cloud collaboration and reporting with an emphasis on quality and safety. Use it to create and update reference project documents, run various checklists like QA/QC, safety, and commissioning from any job site location — online or offline. The app is designed to improve quality and reduce work, improve communications between responsible parties, and manage workflow and scheduling. A free trial is available.
Tradies (Free with in-app purchases)
In the construction trade, documents are critical. Tradies offers access to 16 frequently used document types and facilitates creation of documents in the field to email directly to clients or the office. Just set up a project on your device to share with co-workers so everyone starts out with the same project information, timing, status and work parameters. Documents include Site Instruction, Incident Report, Site Diary, Quote, Invoice, Change Order, Meeting, RFI, Backcharge Notice and Toolbox Talk. Tradies is free to download, but in-app purchases are necessary for the individual modules. Modules like Invoice Upgrade, Purchase Order Upgrade and Subcontract Agreement cost $24.99. The entire package of documents costs $149.99.
ContractorTools (Free with in-app purchases)
Either you’ve got work coming in and you need to know how much to charge for it, or you’ve finished the work and you need to bill the client. Either way, ContractorTools has you covered. This app helps you create professional estimates, sync with QuickBooks, and access thousands of construction cost items with local pricing. The app specializes in estimating, invoicing, draw schedules, credits, job templates, credits and change orders. It even supports international currencies and units. You can work offline or connect to the cloud, and sync between multiple people within your company using the iPhone, iPad or Mac versions of the app. In-app purchases are available via four plans ranging from $9.99 to $49.99 per month.
Job Estimator (Free with in-app purchases)
Construction companies and contractors need a good way to track and report details about jobs in progress, accompanied by status documents and completion reports. That’s where Job Estimator comes in. Job Estimator lets contractors, service companies, salespeople and estimators create project estimates that include company information, work description, labor hours and rates and necessary parts. The form does all the calculations, so once you enter the data, users can present customers with an accurate overall total. The app, which can be customized specifically for your company, promises to help you to commandeer more contracts and save time and money by fostering good client relationships.
BuilderTrend (Free with in-app purchases)
BuilderTrend, a cloud-based app for builders, remodelers and contractors, is the hub to which all parties are connected and information shared. With it, you can update schedules, take command of your to-do list or share photos of a work site. The app’s Presale Process module includes bid requests, estimates and proposals, while the Product Management module includes document photos, to-dos and plan markup. A Financial Tools module presents budgets, time sheets and payments, while Customer Management tools offer communication and survey reviews. The app can be tailored to the specific services you need. Prices start at $99 per month.
Photo Measures ($6.99)
Contractors, engineers, construction workers, real estate agents and homebuilders will be able to easily create and view critical measurements with Photo Measures, an app that lets you save and display building and object measurements — including angles — on your iPad. Import photos of any size and aspect ratio, and then use the various app controls to draw lines or angles directly on the image with your finger, using a choice of line types, colors, and thicknesses. You can edit, save and organize photos by category, zoom in and out of your photo for better precision or add text comments as needed. You can calculate measurements in imperial or metric units. When you’re done, just export photos as high resolution PDFs or JPEGs via email or your photo library. A very limited, lite version is free to try.
Photo credit: Shutterstock/Rawpixel