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Great Apps for Contractors

Oct 13, 2014 by Ryan Bohn

We work with contractors from all walks of life: Electricians, Plumbers, HVAC Repair, Remodelers, Cleaning Services, Restoration Companies, Roofers, Pest Control… You name it, just about any home or commercial service provided out there we have catered to. So with the purpose of serving as broad of a base as possible among contractors, we have put together a list of worthy apps that we think can make a contractor’s day easier. This is a no frills list… just apps we like and could potentially come in handy… so this should serve as a practical reference of applications for contractors for to have on their phone or tablet. While some may be obvious recommendations and may have been around for a little while, we will recommend them because our clients like to use them and we believe in them from our own expertise as a software company. So without further adieu:

The Basics:

Google Drive, Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google Slides

Free: iPhone iPad & Android

Once you get through this list you may think we work for Google, but we don’t. Google is simply the best at creating workhorse applications because of their manpower and their ability to design products that are easy to use. Most of us are all familiar with Google's user interfaces and Google has a huge userbase… so even though there may be a better cloud/fileshare service out there...we still want to go with the recommendation to use Google when you can, because it's better to standardize across as many of your technologies as possible. We recommend downloading the separate app for Docs and Sheets if you find yourself collaborating with the rest of your office on spreadsheets and word docs. This way, you’ll easily be able to collaborate and make changes to your sheets or docs in your personal device while you're in the field, rather than having to be in front of a computer.

Google Translate

Free: iPhone & Android

As a contractor, there is a strong likelihood that at some point you will need the use of a translation app when it comes to dealing with a customer or fellow worker. The best and easiest to use translation app on the market right now is Google Translate. Just like any translation software that's on the market today, you won't be able to get 100% accuracy every time. Still, this app gets the job done as well as any.

Linkedin

Free: iPhone & Android

This may seem like an unnecessary recommendation to some, but this is one of the most useful business tools on the market today and we find that a vast majority of contractors and tradesmen are not using Linkedin for their business. When it comes to researching your customers, employers, employees, competition, or potential partners, nothing is more valuable than Linkedin. We recommend that every business and employee have a strong personal and company profile which will give credibility to their name. When you’re out in the field, it should be common practice for you to look up that person you’re meeting with because it will give you the necessary insight that will ensure your interaction goes well.

Money Apps:

Square and Square Wallet

Free: iPhone & Android

They take 2.75% of every transaction or 3.5%+$.15 for every manually entered transaction.

One of the easiest and most convenient ways to improve your business instantly and help you get more with the times is to use Square. This application will easily integrate with your back office systems and will eliminate a ton of paperwork for you. Take your payment processing to the jobsite and with you out into the field. No more invoices, no more POs, square will save you time and give your customer some added convenience. Good demos can be found on their website

Paypal

Free: iPhone & Android

Our primary reason for adding paypal to the list is due to its popularity and for adding another form of payment to your business. It’s a very commonly used medium to pay vendors or receive payments from customers. While having the app in your phone may not be totally necessary, you and your business should at least have an account. Also worth mentioning... paypal will often run promotions and offerings to clients and customers for using their form of payment, which is something you may want to look into. PayPal also offers a similar program to Square called PayPal Here.

Expensify

Free: iPhone iPad & Android

The days of doing your expense reports in excel are over... and Expensify is exactly what the world of expense reports wants to evolve to. You can connect to all your bank accounts which will allow you to review an aggregate of all your transactions in one place. This way nothing gets missed. You can easily take photos of receipts to file or you can use their built in receipt generation tool. Once you’re done putting your report together, the app then calculates your expense report for you, and then conveniently submits a report to your accounting department where it can easily integrate with the accounting software they use. If you hate doing expense reports like most everyone else, then give this a go.

Some General Construction Apps:

Planimeter

$7.99: iPhone iPad & Android

This is an awesome app to use for site plans that has solid accuracy for measuring acres, or whatever land plot you need measure in any type of unit. Planimeter utilizes map technology and provides coordinate information. If you often need to measure a site or plot of land this app will make your life a lot easier.

Photomeasures

$6.99: iPhone iPad & Android

Photomeasures is worth mentioning because of its ease of use and its ability to be an everyday app if you're in the construction business. Take a picture of just about anything and conveniently label measurements you need for exporting or sending. The nice thing is there are no costs associated after the app is downloaded.

Home Depot Pro

Free: iPhone iPad & Android

Pretty straight forward, if you’re a contractor and head to the Depot on a daily basis. We suggest you download their Pro App and use it to manage your orders. It will save you time and will conveniently keep your orders/expenditures for a project in check.

PadCad

Free: iPhone iPad & Android but charged $14.99 for each save/download/ of your drawing

This app is probably one of the better apps we’ve found for small drafting projects like home additions, small remodeling projects, and site surveys. You can export your drawings to the appropriate format but you will be charged.

MagicPlan

Free - but they charge $2.99 per save/export: iPhone iPad & Android

MagicPlan is a super clever app that will draw inside maps and floor plans by the use of your camera. It will pretty accurately provide measurements (they claim with 100% precision) and allow you to collect almost all the usual indoor data you need to carry out a remodel. Just check out this demo video to watch it in action, your jaw will drop:

Project Management Apps:

Joist

Free: iPhone iPad & Android

All right, this is probably our favorite brand new app right now. Joist is a construction project management tool for contractors to use when it comes to eliminating paperwork and centralizing communication. You can manage and communicate with your clients, provide estimates, and invoicing all on one platform. The difference between all the other Construction/Project Management tools out there is that Joist is by far the most simple, easiest, and practical app to use. It really brings all parties together and will help your project stay coordinated and delivered on time. Check out their demo

Plan Grid

Free: iPhone iPad & Android

This is a pretty useful project management and team collaboration app. You can use its estimation tools and make annotations, track progress, and communicate with any members involved with your project. It has a few setbacks when it comes to editing CAD drawings you when need to work with other formats outside PDF, but if those aren't concerns for you then this is a great PM tool.

FieldLens

$20/mo per user or $15/mo with 1 yr contract: iPhone & Android

Field lens is a really powerful tool for project management & communication but what we like about it most is that is has a good modern and social feel when compared to the other project management apps we’ve reviewed. Its really sleek, really sexy and is practical. It seamlessly syncs across all your devices. Check out this demo video.

Camera & Photo Apps:

Skitch

Free: iPhone iPad & Android

While skitch is really intended for more of a social tool for marking up photos, we find it to be a great way to sketch over images on the fly with your clients. Think of John Madden highlighting the replay on Monday Night Football… Lets just hope your on screen penmanship is better than his.

PhotoSphere Camera by Google

$0.99: iPhone & Android

So this is a very cool way to create and put together a 3D environment as one image and it actually works. It allows you to create an image of any project you're working on to give others a feel for what it's like to be in that location when they actually can't be there. Once you put a sphere together, you can send your sphere to someone where they use their own smartphone as a viewing portal to the location that was "Sphered". You can move in any direction and get a glimpse into the environment that was created as if you were actually standing there. More simply, it will give you a sense of a specific location without having to step foot in it. You can also post your sphere and share via google maps for others to see. It's difficult to explain, so here is a pretty lengthy review and tutorial that will help. We think this is probably one of the coolest apps out there (next to Shazam). Check this out.

Studio

Free: iPhone iPad & Android

So this is a one stop shop for all your marketing needs. If you’re a contractor that needs better content for your marketing efforts, Studio will make your creation look very professional and it is absolutely the easiest photoshop/design app you can use today. Anything you make will look like it was done by a highly paid designer. Check out their demo video

Augment 3D

Free: iPhone iPad & Android

Augment is a 3D Augmentation tool that will allow your to create 3D scale models within a real life environment. Take a picture of a site and then import the concept design of the building you're working on to bring it to scale. You can take the combined image to show your clients how something may really look in a given space. Here is a silly video review but will give you an idea of what we are talking about.

Safety Apps:

iAuditor

Free: iPhone iPad & Android

iAuditor seems to be the #1 app when it comes to building templates and forms for safety inspections. It works in most countries, and helps you easily create templates by conveniently pulling information from a huge database of over 20k inspection forms that have been created and shared by other users in just about any trade. It’s really the definition of not having to re-invent the wheel… Why create another safety form or template you need when someone else already has? Here are some good tutorials and reviews on Safety Culture’s (who developed the app) site

PDF Converters:

Youcam Snap

Free: iPhone & Android

Take a photo of any floor plan or whiteboard and this app will re-skew the image to something flat and legible in your phone. You can then combine images and save them to a PDF. Pretty convenient, self-explanatory, and simple to use app.

scanbot

$1.99: iPhone iPad & Android

In the same realm as the Youcam Snap app, Scanbot app is really used to turn your phone into a portable scanner. Just take a photo of any document and this app will re-skew the image and convert to a PDF the image to be attached or saved. It also has a QR code reader built in. Oh yeah, it seems to be the fastest of all the scanner apps out there.

Calculator & Conversion Apps:

vert

$3.99 or Free Lite Version: iPhone iPad & Android

One of the highest rated apps out on the market, Vert is for anyone who wants to convert absolutely anything. Vert covers it all. Literally. From clothing size conversions, to standard measurements, Vert has made it their goal to provide a conversion for any measurement that exists. While some of the other construction apps listed have built in conversion calculators specific for certain trades... this app does them all, and it works instantaneously. It is by far the easiest conversion app to use but isn't built for any specific trade. Vert will also automatically recognize your current location in order to convert things into the local standard. A must have app for anyone really.

Home Builder Pro Calcs

Free: iPhone iPad & Android

Built specifically for contractors, Home Builder Pro Calcs is designed much more for the builder. This contractor calculator has over 400 different home improvement calculations and conversions and is an all-in-one calculator for anything from business to electrical.

Cerrowire calculator

Free: iPhone iPad & Android

Cerrowire did their loyal customers a favor and built an electrical and voltage calculator that is pretty slick. There are a few out there that may cover more electrical calculations and provide more detailed info, but we decided to go with this one for its all around usability and cleanliness.

HVAC Load Calc Bundle

$49.99 : iPhone iPad & Android for bundle

This bundle of apps will provide any HVAC technician with a resource that covers everything from duct and pipe sizing, to load calculators all in one place. All the apps in the bundle will produce reports that can cover every aspect in helping an HVAC technician get through his day. It will cost you upfront, but should be worth it to keep you up on your day job.

Other Miscellaneous Apps:

Craigslist Pro

Free: iPhone iPad & Android

If you have the need for aftermarket fixtures or anything for that matter, a 3rd party app developer called Escargot Studios made Craigslist Pro, which lets you save Craigslist searches and then trolls Craigslist on a constant basis so you don't have to. Once something relevant gets listed, you will get notified. Pretty handy way to cut costs on projects or pick up some cool vintage stuff if you’re involved in the design process.

Lux light Meter

$1.99: iPhone iPad & Android

Turn your device into a light meter with this app. If you ever need one, Lux is pretty accurate and will read just like any other light meter. Why not just use your phone?

Construction Sound Meter

$0.99: iPhone iPad & Android

Look no further for testing and reporting the workplace sound from your project with this little nifty app. It will spit out a PDF with all the relevant data you need to prove your operating within code.

Good Housekeeping @ Home App

Free: iPhone iPad & Android

Whether you work for a cleaning service or are uncertain which cleaning products to use… the Good Housekeeping app can come in pretty handy. This app will pull from a database of best practices, methods, solutions, what solvents to use, and any other tips and tricks that can help when tackling a specific cleaning task. If you’ve ever bleached anything by mistake, then you may want to download this.

Houzz

Free: iPhone iPad & Android

Houzz is a pretty popular tool for getting home remodel ideas, but its also a great place to source new business and discover new and interesting products. Houzz isn’t just for remodelers, its also a great tool for folks with a background in design, architecture, and general contracting. Think of it as the Flickr/Pinterest of home construction, but with a subtle twist of Angie’s List.

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