With the increased prevalence of tech innovation in the construction industry, more businesses are releasing apps catered to the construction and building industry. While this is welcome news, it can be hard to sift through the myriad of apps out there to find the ones that truly add value to your daily work – without the need to pay subscription fees or to make in-app purchases.
To kick start the year, we’ve rounded up the 6 best free construction apps out there. From construction estimating apps to project management apps and invoicing and planning apps, these tools will help you get ahead in 2019.
1. Joist App
Joist’s mission is to “make contractors heroes”, so it’s no surprise that this is one of the best construction apps 2019 has to offer. Joist provides all the tools a contractor needs in order to win more jobs, be more productive, and provide better service to clients.
The app allows contractors to quickly give estimates to customers and create professional invoices, as well as manage project timeframes, look up client information, and track payments. Clients can also sign contracts through the app and pay invoices directly using credit cards or e-cheques, which makes the entire process faster and more seamless for everyone.
On top of this, the app is completely free to use – the only in-app purchase is for Quickbooks. Joist is available on both the App Store and Google Play. Find out more on Joist’s website.
iAuditor is a visually beautiful inspection checklist app that empowers your team to be your eyes and ears on the field. The app allows you to easily create inspection checklists and forms using the drag and drop function, and track and assign any safety actions that need to take place.
On-site, builders can take photos of an inspection and add notes directly on the image, or add additional form notes if there’s any missing information. Users can also add reference images into the app to easily recall project details, and the digital signature tool adds accountability and transparency to every inspection conducted. Reporting is a breeze as well: iAuditor generates instant sharable reports, and provides a dashboard with real-time analytics, so you can track performance on the go.
iAuditor is available on iOS, Android, and Windows, and has free and paid account options – the free version is enough for those who want to create inspection templates and generate reports for projects. Find out more on iAuditor’s website.
3. Concrete Foundation Estimator
Calculating and estimating concrete projects can be time consuming, which is why the Concrete Foundation Estimator is the perfect tool for contractors looking to minimise time during the bidding process and win more jobs.
With over 300 logic formulas in the app, Concrete Foundation Estimator significantly reduces the amount of time spent on detailed calculations. Users can add costs for concrete mix, slabs, hauling and dumping fees, concrete pumping, and more, then the app will provide an estimate in minutes.
Concrete Foundation Estimator is available on iOS, both as a free app and as a paid purchase. The free app has limited features, but still does the trick for any project manager looking to make a quick estimate on a job. Download the app on the iTunes store here.
4. Wave Apps
Although Wave isn’t an app built specifically for the construction industry, it’s still a great tool for builders and contractors who want to win back time on accounting and finance tasks.
Wave is a free app designed to help small business owners manage accounting and invoicing. In the Accounting function, users can keep an eye on cash flow, in order to better manage business trends and compare one month or year to another. Wave’s invoicing tools also allow businesses to create professional invoices and set up recurring billing for repeat customers.
When it comes to reporting, the app’s smart dashboard organises expenses into different categories, such as income, expenses, payments, and invoices, which reduces the amount of headache during tax time – a bonus!
Wave’s accounting and invoicing functions are free to use, making it ideal for builders who want an easy finance tool, and if you want to accept payments, Wave charges a standard credit card processing or transaction fee. For larger businesses, there’s also a payroll function that’s available on a pay-per-month basis.
For more information, visit Wave’s website.
5. Google Drive
Google Drive is, without question, one of the best free apps out there for storing and managing files on the go. If you’re in the construction industry chances are you’re constantly on-the-go, heading from site inspections to client meetings or trying to win projects, and sometimes it’s difficult to carry a heavy laptop – particularly if you’re at a construction site.
With Google Drive, you can store all your files, plans, invoices, and reports in the cloud, and access everything anywhere, using any device. Share folders with your teams for different projects, and back up files to ensure you don’t lose important client information or project data.
Google Drive is available on iOS and Android, as well as on tablets and desktop devices. The app is free to use for up to 15GB of storage, and if you need to, you can upgrade to 100GB, 200GB, or even 30TB on a pay-per-month basis. To sign up, simply hop on to Google Drive and register using your Gmail.
6. Spotlight App
In the construction industry, safety is paramount, and the sooner you’re notified of any incidents or hazards, the sooner you can act to minimise risks on-site.
Spotlight is an incident reporting app, where teams can quickly report issues by uploading pictures, text, and GPS locations. Users receive real-time alerts, and teams can communicate within the app to work together and resolve incidents quickly. Real-time reporting is available within the app as well, so you can identify any patterns and better prepare to prevent future incidents from happening.
The best thing about Spotlight is that the free version of the tool offers full functionality for up to 100 users, which is perfect for contractors and SMEs who want to better manage incident reporting. There’s also a paid version for teams with 100 users or more. Spotlight is available on the Apple App Store and on Google Play, and more information can be found online on their website.
Bonus: Plangrid Construction Manager
Although Plangrid removed their free version in late 2018, Plangrid’s Construction Manager is still worth a mention on this list. With a user-friendly interface, lightning fast operation, and digital syncing and storage, Plangrid is one of the best apps for builders looking for a real-time productivity tool.
Builders and project managers can upload blueprints straight into the app, then mark up any notes or issues directly on the blueprints in real-time. The app also has a sheet compare function, where you can overlay different versions of a blueprint to keep track of any changes, and a punch list where users can pin issues (such as defects or inspection notes) to a location on the blueprint, and track progress. Reporting can be done either via daily reports or progress reports, and Plangrid even has a handy safety checklist function in the app to minimise OH&S risks.
Plangrid has a 21 day free trial, and after that users can pay on a monthly basis based on the number of sheets uploaded in the app. Plangrid is available on iOS, Android, and Windows – visit their website for more information.
There are always going to be new apps out there, but it’s important to make sure the apps you use add value for you and your team. Take the time to test each app to ensure it works within your existing project management foundations, and helps you win back time, win more jobs, or better control collaboration and manage risk on-site.
If you’re looking to improve your project management in 2019, our free project management templates can help you store core information and ensure smooth-running projects. Get started by downloading The Ultimate Efficiency Template Pack below.