26 tablet apps for home-building pros

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Professional Builder readers share their favorite business apps for tablet devices.

February 18, 2013

Own an iPad? If so, you are among the 49 percent of home-building professionals that have joined the tablet revolution. A recent survey of nearly 200 Professional Builder readers showed that about half currently own an iPad, Android, or Windows tablet device, up from 35 percent in 2011. Of the respondents that said they don’t own a tablet, more than half plan to purchase one for their business within the next six months.

As part of our tablet survey, we asked builders to share their favorite apps for managing their business. What follows is a collection of the apps cited most frequently. We also included several of the most popular apps downloaded last year from the HousingZone AppCenter (www.HousingZone.com/AppCenter).
 
Dropbox
Dropbox is a free service that lets you take your photos, docs, and videos anywhere. After you install Dropbox on your computer, any file you save to your Dropbox will automatically save to all your computers, mobile devices, and the Dropbox website. iOS, Android, Blackberry FREE
 
EagleView HD
EagleView HD lets you place orders, receive roof measurements on any building in the U.S., upload a photo of the building, and view the measurement details while also being able to check the status of all your pending orders. Available for iPad and Android, the app is useful for on-site ordering using your GPS location. It also provides easily accessible storage for all of your measurement details. iOS, Android FREE
 
Evernote
Evernote is an easy-to-use, free iPhone and iPad app that helps you remember multiple items across all of your devices. Stay organized, save your ideas, and improve productivity. Evernote lets you take notes, capture photos, create to-do lists, record voice reminders — and makes these notes completely searchable, whether you are at home, at work, or on the go. iOS, Android, Blackberry, Windows FREE
 
Google Earth
Great for home builders and developers, this app allows users to zoom in and “fly around” any place in the world. See views of buildings, land parcels, and surrounding areas. Search by address, city, place, or local business, and browse layers including roads, borders, places, and photos. iOS Android FREE
 
Handyman Calculator
This tool offers three calculators/converters — a SEER savings calculator, flooring calculator, and temperature converter— plus its own notepad for storing measurements and results. Includes U.S. standard and metric measurements. iOS, Android $0.99
 
Home Design 3D
Draw 2D floor plans with ease by dragging your finger across the screen, and then view the resulting structure in 3D with one click. This tool comes with a catalog of more than 150 objects ranging from doors, windows, and furniture to place in the space. It also allows users to color rooms and objects. iOS $5.99
 
Houzz Interior Design Ideas
If you’re looking for quick interior design ideas, Houzz is the place to go. This tool provides instant access to Houzz’s database of more than 150,000 home-design ideas, with high-resolution photos. Browse photos by style, room, and location, and save them to a virtual idea book. iOS, FREE
 
iAnnotate
The latest release of this iPad app offers an intuitive interface and comprehensive, customizable features that allow users to annotate, manage, and share documents. The latest version includes several features to enhance the Microsoft Word and PowerPoint documents on an iPad. iOS, Android $9.99
 
iCabinet
Most home improvement stores have a large selection of in-stock cabinets ready for same-day installation. This app was built specifically for designing kitchens using these cabinets. For instance, iCabinet does not require users to lay out the walls first — all widths are automatically calculated as cabinets, appliances, and fillers are added. iOS FREE
 
iLevel
The iLevel Bubble Level Tool HD for iPhone, iPod, and iPad is fully functional with calibration capability, multiple themes, and different visual level modes. Most importantly, it’s accurate after calibration and ready to measure any angle. The app allows you to measure the horizontality of a floor, the verticality of a wall, or calculate roof pitch, to name a select few applications. iOS $0.99
 
Invoice2go
Invoice2go offers an easy way to invoice, estimate, bill, collect, and report in more than 20 built-in invoice styles. Users can add logos, move fields, and create business forms. The free version of this app only allows users to create and manage up to three invoices at a time; the paid version offers unlimited invoices. iOS, Android FREE
 
LumberCalc
This tools allows users to convert a unit of lumber’s given dimensions to board feet, and calculate order totals given an MBF price. It includes a paneling coverage estimator for common paneling profiles (e.g., tongue and groove, bevel siding). Enter the square footage desired to cover, and you’ll get the board feet needed to order, along with the dress width and the face width for that particular pattern. iOS $0.99
 
MagicPlan
MagicPlan allows users to measure, draw, and publish interactive floor plans on the web, just by taking pictures. Create a floor plan in minutes without the need to measure, draw, or move furniture. iOS FREE
 
Mortgage and Home Loan Calculator
From Homes.com, this app offers four calculators: buy or rent calculator; debt-to-income calculator; monthly payment calculator; and refinance calculator. iOS FREE
 
Penultimate
Penultimate offers iPad users the gratification of writing on paper, with digital power and flexibility. Take notes, keep sketches, or share ideas in the office, on the go, or from home. Send single-page images or full notebooks in PDF format to anyone. Dropbox and Evernote integration bring the best cloud services for files, backup, and notes organization right into the app. iOS $0.99
 
Photo Measures
Whenever you need to save dimensions, sizes, angles, or write down a detail, Photo Measures will help. Take photos and write the dimensions on the photos in order to remember the exact layout. iOS, Android $4.99
 
SG Project
SG Project was designed for project managers who typically work on one project at a time. It takes advantage of the features of the iPad platform and delivers a touch-based project management tool for both professionals and non-professionals. iOS $9.99
 
SketchBook Mobile
Autodesk SketchBook Mobile offers the power of the company’s popular digital sketchpad program for mobile devices. Comes with multi-touch navigation with 2,500 percent zoom and a host of drawing tools. iOS, Android $4.99 
 
Spacing Calc
Siding a wall, shingling a roof, laying patio stones? Enter the length of the area to be covered, the width of the individual items (boards, shingles, patio stones, etc.), and the number of items. The app will tell you the space between the items or the amount of overlap. iOS $1.99
 
Structural Wood Design Calculator
This is a great tool for engineers, architects, and builders to design wood beams for strength in bending, shear, deflection, and bearing. Beam design is calculated by inputting a few design parameters, such as beam length, width, and load. iOS $0.99
 
Task Tracker
If you are required to track the time you spend on your projects, Task Tracker may be just what you need. The app is simple to operate. Users just tap once to create a new project and then tap again to start a new task. The full version allows users to create multiple projects. iOS, Android $1.99
 
 
Top 5 Manufacturer Apps
 
Building product manufacturers and suppliers have come out with some helpful tablet and smartphone apps in recent years. Here are the most downloaded manufacturer apps from the HousingZone AppCenter:
 
Kohler for iPad
iPad users can employ this app to browse dozens of Kohler products and then see how they would look in a given space through the Augmented Reality and QR scanning features. Full product information is available and colors and finishes can be viewed full screen via the Sample Box; favorite products can be saved with one touch or shared through email and social media. A mapping feature helps locate the nearest Kohler showroom. iOS FREE
 
Marvin Windows and Doors iPad App
This iPad app from Marvin Windows and Doors allows users to browse the company’s entire catalog of windows and doors, including interactive 3D models. It also includes an Inspiration Gallery, which showcases photos and video case studies of homes featuring Marvin windows and doors. iOS FREE
 
Sherwin-Williams ColorSnap
This color-matching app allows users to quickly and easily match hues with more than 1,500 Sherwin-Williams colors. Browse existing images or snap a new photo, scroll to locate the matching color, and ColorSnap will display the closest Sherwin-Williams color and coordinating palette. iOS FREE
 
Trex Deck Color Visualizer
This iPad app provides three pre-loaded photos of Trex outdoor living spaces in which users can mix and match a wide selection of colors to find their optimal design. Two of the three photos also include assorted Trex railing components in black or white. Completed designs can be saved directly to the iPad or shared via email. A link to the Trex website is included. iOS FREE
 
Weyerhaeuser Parallam+Deck Beam Sizer
This app from Weyerhaeuser helps users determine the proper size and loading of Parallam Plus PSL beams needed for any deck project through three simple inputs. Calculations and supporting documentation can then be sent out via email directly from the app, speeding up the approval process. Users can also connect directly to Weyerhaeuser technical support as needed. iOS FREE

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