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Nancy Powaga
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September 19, 2019

How Apps Have Improved Five Key Aspects of the Construction Industry

constructionviewWhat would the construction industry be without great tools and processes? After all, this is an industry where every inch, day, and dollar counts. The success of contractors and construction companies hinges on efficiency and attention to detail.

As a result, technology has already made a huge impact on the field. Recently, drones, robotics, and GIS technology have altered the landscape of construction by optimizing mapping, planning, building, and data management. We can look forward to further advancements with the help of augmented reality, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, and much more. But what’s happening right now in the construction industry? Apps, apps, apps!

According to the Pew Research Center, 81% of Americans now own smartphones—up from just 35% in 2011. This shouldn’t come as a surprise. Our lives are dominated by the small but powerful computers that we keep in our pockets and purses. We can instantly access our money via mobile banking apps, post a selfie or three on Instagram, watch some videos on YouTube, and chat with friends on iMessage.

Clearly, smartphones and apps have transformed the way we live but now this technology is changing the way people in the construction industry work, too. General contractors use apps to set estimates and manage bidding. Workers navigate job sites via mobile maps. Construction teams collaborate and scope tasks using digital punch lists. Foremen log and fix safety concerns on smartphones and tablets.

This post explores the top five aspects of the construction industry that have been transformed by mobile applications. Whether you work in private, residential, commercial, or industrial construction, you’ll find inspiration on how to digitally transform your workplace. We've also put together a bunch of Excel templates and sample apps so that you can start working digitally today. 

1. Project estimates and bidding

Before any construction project kicks off, companies and prospects need to get on the same page in terms of the scope and price of the proposal. Historically, construction professionals have resorted to all types of methods and formats for estimate and bidding work—from pen and paper forms to spreadsheet templates, Word or Google docs, and PowerPoint slides.

These solutions require a lot of manually entering and distribution of project estimates. Thanks to mobile apps, however, much of this work can now be automated and digitized.

How applications help with construction estimates and bidding:

  • Track materials lists.
  • Estimate the cost of permits, administration, legal fees, engineering, etc.
  • Send estimates directly to your clients via standardized email templates or PDFs.
  • Capture signatures using touchscreens.
  • Include photos to clearly communicate concepts, locations, and materials.

Download our free construction cost estimation Excel spreadsheet template or copy and customize the AppSheet quote and proposal app:

Download Excel templateTry quote & proposal app

2. Punch lists

Punch lists are essential tools for construction companies because success hinges on contract fulfillment and accountability. In order to pass final inspections and receive payment, all contract items on a punch list must be completed. Punch lists include work that’s incomplete or not started, areas of the project that were done incorrectly, or materials and work site features that became damaged during the job. In short, construction projects and inspections rest heavily on the quality and accuracy of punch lists.

Originally, workers would literally punch a hole in the margin of a piece of paper next to a completed construction task on the list. Mobile punch list apps have since digitized this process. Now, you can keep and manage punch lists right on your smartphone.

How punch list applications help with construction management:

  • Create a single reference point for outstanding tasks that can be referenced by multiple stakeholders including owners, architects, subcontractors, and workers.
  • Track and filter tasks by priority to ensure that all outstanding issues are resolved prior to inspections.
  • Assign and change team or individual ownership of tasks in real time, which reduces errors and eliminates duplicate work.
  • Update the punch list from anywhere at anytime with the most up-to-date information.

Download our free construction punch list Excel spreadsheet template. Check back soon for our punch list app!

Download Excel template

3. Safety reports and accident near misses

The safety of a job site should be the top priority for everyone working in the construction industry. Of course, no one wants accidents on their watch. Unsafe working conditions put people in harm’s way, and also leave construction companies vulnerable to costly litigation.

Apps that track construction site accidents and near misses are designed to save lives, time, and money. Near miss and accident reporting apps facilitate clear and timely communication between workers and managers so that incidents don’t fall through the cracks.

How mobile apps help manage construction safety reporting:

  • Workers signify the location and circumstances of almost-accidents so that near misses don’t become full-fledged accidents.
  • Workers can document the specific nature of their accident near miss report, including uploading photos of the problem.
  • Managers have all the information they need to make smart process improvements and secure job sites.
  • Managers and foremen prioritize fixes to the safety issues based on urgency.

Download our free construction safety report Excel spreadsheet template. Check back soon for our safety report app!

Download Excel template

4. Mapping and site inspections

Construction professionals thrive on their keen understanding of spaces and places. Blueprints are some of the most basic, yet essential, plans used during any construction project. Contour maps help workers, planners, and stakeholders better understand the job site and project progress.

We all use maps on our phones to get around. Mobile map applications are so common that their impact can easily be taken for granted. The technology has so much potential beyond everyday consumer use. Digital maps are now integrated into mobile and desktop construction software to amazing ends.

How applications can help with construction mapping and site inspections:

  • Digitally map job sites for greater transparency into project scope, progress, requirements, and budgeting.
  • Gather and track distances and measurements.
  • Report progress on specific geographic areas of job sites.
  • Access maps across multiple platforms (i.e. laptops, smartphones, and tablets) so that you have seamless information no matter if you’re working in the office or in the field.
  • Save map data to work offline.
  • Create maps from images that you upload. This can be used to map floor plans with interactive capabilities such as commenting.
Download our free construction site inspection Excel spreadsheet template or copy and customize the AppSheet construction floor plan app.

Download Excel templateTry floor plan app

5. Time sheets

Construction companies of all sizes require sound HR solutions. Foremen require accurate time sheets, while workers expect timely payroll processes. The smooth management of these vital components of your business fosters trust between management and staff, helps reduce turnover, and creates records for the legal protection of everyone.

There are several options when it comes to handling employee time sheets. Word processor templates and paper solutions are unreliable given the sensitivity of the information being collected. Spreadsheets can quickly become unruly if not property maintained. HR software comes with a high price tag and may not be tailored to the construction industry.

How time sheet applications help with construction management:

  • Employees can fill out time sheets on their own smartphones, which saves companies the overhead cost of investing in additional hardware.
  • HR, management, and employees receive app interfaces relevant to their roles. This reduces distraction and keeps protected information private.
  • Increase transparency and employee morale through accessible and easy-to-use shift and timekeeping apps.

Download our free construction time sheet Excel spreadsheet template or copy and customize the AppSheet time sheet app.

Download Excel template

Try timesheet app

Build your own construction app suite

Mobile apps for the construction industry promise constant, clear communication between workers, foremen, architects, owners, and other stakeholders. These tools have already become essential on job sites and their importance will only grow as our world becomes more connected.

There are tons of options for how to fulfill each of these needs through technology—from buying out-of-the-box software to hiring developers to build custom apps. AppSheet provides an alternative to these options. Instead of building or purchasing individual apps, you can create your own unique apps with our platform. If you haven’t already started using mobile application technology on your construction jobs, don’t worry. AppSheet lets you build a whole suite of applications all under one roof.

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