Use a Tablet to Save Time and Money

5 Ways to Manage Your Business Remotely

By Ryan Sutton-Gee

Tens of millions of people are already using smartphones and tablets such as the iPad to answer email, browse the Web, and play games. Now, home builders can also use this tool to save serious time and money.

Some examples: Builders are downloading My Measures, designed to store and share object dimensions for better estimating, and Evernote, which allows builders to draw arrows and other annotations to photos and documents.

New project management and scheduling software helps builders get all project drawings and documents off paper and onto the iPad and other tablets — and it’s not difficult, even for those who aren’t super tech-savvy.

New iPad apps like PlanGrid have been written specifically to help construction professionals and trade partners deal with their documents, so there’s never been a better time to go paperless.

Here’s five ways that ditching paper can really help a home builder or remodeler’s bottom line:

Save time by communicating right from the field. With paper plans, whenever builders encounter an issue in the field and they need to consult with the architect, here’s what they need to do: Mark up the plans, drag them to a scanner, scan them in, find the scan, sit at back down at the computer, find the scanned-in image and then email it out.

With an iPad, a home builder can just open up the drawing right in the field, mark it up, and send it immediately to the architect. That’s a significant and immediate time savings.

Eliminate printing costs. Construction companies typically spend 0.35% of total project costs on printing alone. Going paperless with an iPad or other tablet can instead add a significant portion of that cost right to the bottom line.

Reference all drawings, specs, and schedules whenever they are needed. Who hasn’t been caught without the right documents in the field? With an iPad, home builders can easily carry all the information they need wherever they go. This includes schedules, plans, specs, bid documents, change orders, etc.

Reduce mistakes and misdirection by keeping everyone up to date. Keeping one set of plans up to date is hard enough, but when you have to keep multiple sets, it starts to become a nightmare. As a result, almost every project has had issues where people build off outdated information, leading to claims, schedule delays, etc.

Luckily, with services like PlanGrid or Box, it’s easily to keep one set of files updated and share them with the whole team. This makes document control a snap, even on very large projects.

Easily take and post progress photos right to your drawings. With the iPad and apps like iAnnotate or PlanGrid, it’s easy to take progress photos and attach them right onto your plans. This improves communication, saves you the trouble of carrying an extra camera, and really helps with the QA/QC and punch list process.

It’s worth taking the time to learn about the apps available for iPads and other tablets as new ones hit the market every day – many with features geared to the home building and remodeling industry.

Ryan Sutton-Gee is the co-founder and CEO of PlanGrid, which offers builders the ability to store, view, and manage blueprints on an iPad. He has a MS in construction engineering management from Stanford University and a BS in Construction Management from Sacramento State University. Follow him on Twitter @rsuttong.

For more information about this item, please contact Agustin Cruz at 800-368-5242 x8472 or via email at acruz@nahb.org.

This article is reprinted with permission from the NAHB.

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