It’s thrilling (and scary!) to consider taking on a home remodel or renovation. The chance to recreate your living space, make your mark and showcase your style is a dream a lot of homeowners have. But before you buy the materials or get out the tools, your first step is to make use of software that’s available.
Using online programs, mobile apps and even augmented reality can help you visualize and finalize those home improvement plans. They can actually help you save money (since you won’t be tempted to change plans part-way through when you finally see the plan come to life).
To help, here are 10 of the best free or cheap apps and online tools to help you turn your ideas and free-hand sketches into functional remodel projects.
Some Canadian and US retailers offer free apps. Free retailer apps are good for product browsing — and saving you long trips to the store for materials. Some also offer help. For instance, one app may provide a list of handy tools such as calculators, converters and measurement devices, while other apps give you direct, easy access to their weekly flyer for savings and promotions.
The well-rated Home Design 3D app allows those inexperienced with home design to test out their ideas and skills. The app lets you move around hundreds of items to help you decide layout, size and room design. Work on it in 2D or 3D. You can also move the data between your mobile device, tablet or desktop computer, allowing you flexibility to work on your design wherever and whenever you want.
It may not replace the need to hire a professional designer, but this app gives you an opportunity to nail down your own design ideas before meeting with a pro, making this process more efficient and affordable. Expect to pay around $7 for iOS users and around $8 for Android users.
The Android app Smart Tools combines several practical tool applications into one easy-to-use app for the Android platform. There’s the Smart Ruler Pro, Smart Measure Pro, Smart Compass Pro, Sound Meter Pro and the Smart Light Pro — all of which offer the handy homeowner the measurement needed for a remodel. The Android app costs less than $3 and the tools are offered in an attractive app.
The iHandy Carpenter app offers a long list of tools that would benefit anyone planning or completing a remodel project. These tools include a plumb bob, surface level, bubble level bar, ruler, and protractor. It’s available exclusively for the iOS platform for about $2.
Do you need furniture assembled? What about a cleaner or someone to complete all those smaller tasks around the home, such as picture hanging or installing a wall-mounted TV. Try the Handy app. All these smaller handy jobs can be booked and paid for directly through the Handy platform. The service professionals on the app are all experienced, background-checked professionals who are rated by previous customers.
This was the site that started the trend. Still considered a fan favorite, HomeStars is a Canadian company that works to connect homeowners (clients) and reno experts. The app works by publishing reviews written by homeowners about home improvement professionals such as repairmen, contractors, renovators and retailers. Homeowners can then select from a list of pros for their specific job, or post a job and ask HomeStars pros to bid on the contract.
Over the years, Canadian HGTV star Bryan Baeumler was asked so many times about how to find a good contractor (or plumber, or electrician) that he eventually helped launch an app called HeyBryan, which allows customers to select from 16 job categories before browsing a list of vetted tradespeople. You can then work out the details of your job using the in-app chat.
If you plan on hiring a contractor or doing a reno job yourself, you’ll probably need to keep track of schedules, payments, materials and timelines. To do this you’ll need a project management app like Evernote.
As a simple, free note-taking app, Evernote offers a few key benefits. For example, it can clip web pages and images and let you keep them in one place. It also allows you to scan receipts, attach quotations and keep an archived copy of emails involving the project for fast reference. Evernote may be small, but it is very, very powerful when planning any large scale remodel project.
No matter where you are in the planning or the completion of your project, these apps will help you plan, remodel, design and renovate your home. From design tips to building materials, data management and practical tools, these leading apps will make your home improvement easier.