This article may be helpful for construction and tech companies interested in creating apps for construction tasks. Here you can learn where to start and how much it may cost.
The construction industry will likely drive global economic growth during this decade, with output 35% higher than in the 2010s. The market may approach $22,874 billion USD in 2026, growing at a CAGR of 9.8%.
Simultaneously, the construction industry is still plagued by problems like poor on-field productivity and safety, skills shortage, insufficient trust across supply chains, etc. Innovations in the industry, including cloud technology, immersive technologies, and mobile applications, offer solutions for overcoming these challenges.
Currently, over 90% of construction workers use smartphones and over 60% use tablets. Most companies recognize the importance of mobile technology for their business processes but are still far from fulfilling its potential.
The market offers solutions for every stage of a construction project. The number of companies adopting these web and mobile apps and the number of tools each one uses grow yearly. This implies great opportunities for tech companies building construction apps.
Simultaneously, other companies opt for their own software development. A well-thought-out and executed custom construction app can solve a firm’s unique business problem, reduce costs, or give a competitive edge. A mobile app can add value to an internal enterprise resource planning or project management software.
If the result proves valuable for other companies, this project can evolve into an additional business. If you already sell construction software as a service (SaaS), a mobile version of your system can be a competitive advantage and a deciding factor for consumers.
If you are still not sure, let’s start with an outline of the biggest benefits of construction mobile app implementation.
Mobile technology bridges the gap between the field and the office by facilitating on-the-go communication between owners, back-office teams, subcontractors, construction managers, field workers, suppliers, clients, and other stakeholders.
Construction companies can instantly share electronic work orders, plan clarifications, change orders, building code references, and other documents with teams through a mobile app. Each authorized employee can access blueprints, construction schedules, construction materials and equipment details, and other up-to-date project information on mobile devices at any moment.
Field workers, in their turn, can conveniently send requests for information (RFIs), messages, documents, photos, videos, timecards, checklists, daily reports, work records, etc., that will be automatically uploaded to the office staff’s system.
Mobile and cloud technologies ensure that all stakeholders are always on the same page. A single interactive project dashboard simplifies progress monitoring by all parties. When all can access the same information simultaneously, they can make better-informed decisions, avoid mistakes, and resolve issues faster. Enhanced communication improves overall operations.
Mobile apps enable the creation of more detailed reports in the field, tailoring defect capture forms to a specific project, and other customization. This eliminates repetitive and error-prone processes and prevents issues arising from illegible handwriting or inconsistent data.
Reports and other documents registered with time stamps, GPS location data, signatures, and photos captured by mobile apps throughout the construction process ensure the data’s authenticity and provide an accurate audit trail.
The elimination of paper documents and spreadsheets saves time and manpower, increases back-office efficiency, improves accuracy, and reduces the chances of errors. It also facilitates report generation and data analytics to gain valuable insights.
Mobile apps help collect and send information for daily activities tracking and critical information in real time. For example, mobile timesheets that record clock-in/clock-out times improve teams’ accountability. GPS capabilities enable project managers to track the employees’ time spent on-site and keep better time cards. Mobile apps can also be integrated with sensors and robots to control their systems or gather, analyze, and display critical data via dashboards.
Mobile apps help create photo or video reports documenting progress and issues to address. This increased transparency helps hold everyone accountable, keep projects on schedule, improve efficiency and productivity, and reduce labor costs.
Mobile apps give construction professionals the freedom to work from anywhere at any time. For example, they can make last-minute changes to the plans remotely.
Mobile apps with GPS capability enable construction managers to send jobs to the closest technician and the technicians to complete work orders directly from the field. A project manager can also quickly resolve issues with a supplier without being on site.
Construction managers waste considerable time searching for project information, dealing with mistakes, resolving conflicts, and other non-productive activities. A mobile app ensures that all necessary information is literally at the managers’ fingertips. They can have a bird’s eye view of the whole project lifecycle or dive into details from anywhere.
Easy access and analysis of project data promotes better, faster decisions and improves a manager’s productivity. The increased connectivity and transparency make it easier to manage workers, keep track of their progress and hours worked, monitor multiple job sites, keep construction on schedule, get the necessary supplies in time, and more.
Mobile apps also facilitate the planning, management, and tracking of equipment and vehicles. Staff can log their use hours and track locations and maintenance. Real-time information about locations, availability, and maintenance schedules helps improve inventory planning and use.
Automation through schedulers, report and invoice generation, or automatic feedback requests streamlines processes and makes them less prone to errors.
An app that tracks equipment health and sends alerts when something goes wrong or scheduled maintenance is due will prevent many problems.
Mobile apps help inspect construction sites and promote job site safety by providing training materials and checklists on mobile devices, incident documentation, issuing alarms, and more. Workers may report health, safety, and environmental hazards in real time, empowering managers to address issues before they result in injuries.
Apps with safety compliance features can capture on-site safety observations and risks. They promote regulatory compliance by acting as an official record of issues and facilitating their timely and proper resolution.
Missed deadlines and rework in construction projects can cost millions and damage a firm’s reputation. While it’s difficult to predict weather conditions or licensing hurdles, mobile construction apps can at least help companies schedule, organize, and sync their operations.
Access to real-time and historical information helps identify inefficiencies and other organizational pain points, avoid misestimations and cost overruns, detect and fix issues quickly, and prevent or reduce delays and incidents.
Streamlined communication and more accurate documentation accelerate the construction process, reduce the chances of mistakes and underutilizing workers and assets, decrease downtime, and reduce travel to construction sites and other locations.
4-6% of total project costs are typically attributed to rework. Mobile apps that facilitate the exchange of real-time information and documents and improve the management of field workers, equipment, suppliers, etc., reduce the occurrence of mistakes and thus rework costs.
Do any of the benefits sound desirable for your construction company? Do any of the mentioned issues sound familiar? If yes, let’s proceed to how a mobile app could solve them.
The first step to building a construction app is to determine its goals:
The identified goals will determine the type and feature set of the desired construction mobile app. For instance, if you need to automate and streamline your construction processes, you need a construction management app. If you want to sell more construction materials, your app must enable online purchases, facilitate delivery, and so forth.
Study popular mobile apps in relevant categories. Firstly, you may find a ready-made solution to your problem, eliminating the need to make one on your own. Secondly, apps with good ratings and reviews will give you ideas about the key features and user interfaces.
The next chapter lists some apps and functionalities across the most popular categories. If you intend to build a commercial product, these types will most likely be in demand.
These apps should ideally enable users to:
- add and share construction plans, markups, photos, forms, notes, and reports with the project team and within groups
- access construction documents, such as RFIs, submittals, specifications, and schedule
- manage and compare drawings to identify changes or clashes
- add photos, comments, priorities, statuses, etc.
- communicate with other team members
- notify team members of project changes and receive important notifications
- track revisions
- filter and search by keywords
- view progress
- capture, markup, and share progress photos
- manage issues and punch lists
Building apps for construction project management may be the most promising direction. Companies typically manage several projects simultaneously, each involving multiple processes, teams, schedules, equipment, materials, finances, documentation, and much more.
The list of possible functionalities is thus virtually endless since an app may cover any part or the entire construction project lifecycle, from architectural design to warranty:
- Leads management and tracking
- Built-in client relationship management
- Communication between the field and back-office personnel, including push notifications, live chat, emails, incidents reporting, real-time materials location, etc.
- Selections management
- Project planning, scheduling with due dates and priorities, and schedules coordination
- Real-time task generation, allocation, and prioritization
- To-do lists
- Job site activity and progress tracking
- Time tracking tools
- Drawings and blueprints, which may include automatic hyperlinking and sheet version control, markups and annotations, measurements, progress photos and RFI hyperlinking, as-built drawing archives, and more
- Specifications, permits, contracts, meeting minutes, and other project documents
- Photos (with the ability to add tags, links, annotations, markups, pin to drawings, etc.)
- Files and photo sharing
- Electronic signatures
- Instant notifications
- Customizable dashboard / real-time project information panel
- Employee time tracking
- Productivity measurements and reports
- Construction inspection and checklist templates
- Deficiency lists
- Warranty requests
- Report generation and sharing
- Bids and proposals
- Building materials, supplies, and other calculators
- Tracking and management of assets and materials
- Management of logistical chains
- Bills and purchase orders
- Purchase order payments
- Change orders and expenses
- Management of potential cost overruns and risks
- Estimators and project cost forecasting
- Budget management
- Customer invoicing
- Online payment processing
- Integration with the accounting system
- Payroll processing
- Financial reporting
- Contact directories
- Security features
Commercial construction app developers may look up to Buildertrend, CoConstruct, Fieldwire, and Procore as examples. Project management software leaders like Asana, ClickUp, Oracle, and Zoho are also making construction management apps.
For example, an app in this category can:
- calculate the amount of concrete (see Concrete Mix Design IS-10262)
- calculate the amount of paint and estimate its cost, e.g., Paint Calculator or BOYSEN.
A calculator useful for thousands of workers and DIY consumers can be a powerful marketing and sales tool. BOYSEN is a good example. This paint manufacturer’s app helps users find the closest color match from Boysen Color Swatches by recognizing the color in a picture. Users can browse through the in-app collection, select the most suitable paint, and see the amount they need to purchase.
These apps solve the persistent problem of last-minute delivery and shortages by delivering construction materials, tools, equipment, etc., whenever and wherever the construction firms and workers need them.
A delivery app’s basic features may include:
- search for various products and brands
- ability to sort by or compare the prices
- option of picking up or scheduling the delivery of the ordered items
- several payment options (cards, e-wallets, net banking, etc.)
- real-time order tracking using the GPS
Site Inspection is an example of apps helping with safety audits, quality checks, detecting defects, snags, and faults, making punch lists, risk assessment, and more. The app may enable users to:
- add/remove project sites to inspect
- add photos (with the ability to annotate and markup) and descriptions of their findings
- share the identified faults and issues with workers
- organize and manage the findings and tag them to the problems/observations
- create, edit, customize, and generate reports in PDF and Excel formats
- share the reports to Google Drive or Dropbox
- email the reports…
… and more.
These are just several app types, but there is virtually no limit to the number of tasks a mobile app can perform to further a construction firm’s business goals.
Whether you are developing mobile apps for construction firms or building an internal solution, it will be helpful to use some cutting-edge technology. For example, the integration of artificial intelligence, machine learning, or augmented reality into your product can make it more useful or distinguish your offer from the competition.
Augmented reality, which projects digital content on physical surroundings through a mobile device’s camera, can help construction teams in several ways:
It’s possible to generate 3D models directly on 2D blueprints. A combination of AR and building information modeling (BIM) enables architects and construction companies to produce detailed interactive models of building projects and show them to clients.
Collaboration solutions enable team members to make a change, solve a problem, or correct an error in real time even remotely.
Combining digital information and project documentation with a physical location, AR allows virtual walk-throughs to examine and discuss the details and elements of a structure before it is executed. For example, AR Sketchwalk in the Morpholio design software enables architects, teams, and clients to ‘jump’ into a sketch and walk around.
AR also enables adjustments directly to building models on site. For instance, engineers can rearrange the walls using a digital overlay of the project on a tablet. They will see how those modifications will be integrated into the building and affect the structure without applying changes to the original model, not to mention a physical structure.
The engineers can access and visualize the interior and exterior views and the position, style, and type of modifications to the building shell, ranging from windows to ducts. This method can also reveal errors, incompatibilities, or potential problems an alteration might cause.
Field workers can view on a tablet the projection of pipes, walls, outlets, switches, ventilation, etc., and toggle between layers to help monitor a project against its building plan. For example, they can see the location of each planned drill hole and ensure its proper physical placement.
The ability to check a building’s condition against the plan using AR can become a killer feature of a project management app.
AR can be used for training purposes, with mobile devices facilitating virtual drills, instructions, and safety scenarios. Employees can learn how to use new equipment or react to incidents without putting themselves or others at risk.
Suppose you have identified the problem and ways to solve it through a particular type of mobile app or technology. The next chapter describes three more steps to take when you create a construction mobile app.
If you are developing an internal solution, interview and observe your employees at work. Learn about their needs and preferences, how they use technology already, whether they can do it using smartphones or tablets, etc. If you are developing a commercial product, study your target audience.
In the latter case, you will also likely compete with established market leaders. You need to study the design and features of those products and make yours more valuable and convenient, e.g., by adapting it to the specifics of industrial, civil, commercial, or residential building development, local legislation and industry standards, occupational safety and health recommendations, working conditions in extreme weather areas, etc.
At the end of this phase, it’s desirable to have at least a list of main features and, at best, a project requirements document, a basic design, and a budget estimate. If you can’t or don’t wish to perform these tasks yourself, engaging professional app developers (the next step) at this project discovery stage makes sense.
Even if you don’t hire them eventually, they will still help with research, suggest features, prepare the documentation, and estimate the costs, aiding in searching for a long-time partner. If you entrust the development of the product to an agency that knows it from inception, it will undoubtedly be a bonus.
If you don’t have an IT department or there are no mobile app designers and developers on board, you can either hire them or outsource the project. Both options have their pros and cons, but in any case, you need a team including at least the following positions:
- User experience (UX) and user interface (UI) designer
- Front-end developers for iOS, Android, or hybrid mobile development
- Back-end developer
- Quality assurance (QA) engineer
- Project manager (PM) or Scrum master
When selecting software developers, please pay attention to the following:
One of the benefits of engaging an outsourced development company is that they can assist with crucial choices like selecting the OS, most suitable technologies, and more.
Outsourcing agencies have experienced business analysis, UI/UX, and QA and compliance experts on board. When all project participants work under one roof, your construction app development will proceed faster and cost less.
An experienced outsourcing partner will likely recommend that you first develop and launch a BETA version or minimum viable product (MVP). They can build a basic app with essential features at a minimum cost to validate the solution idea quickly. For a commercial product, this approach allows speeding up time-to-market, getting feedback quickly, and refining the product accordingly before release.
The team you have assembled or contracted will now have to implement the required app functionality and design.
Even an MVP of your construction app should have a slick professional-looking user interface. Fast and straightforward navigation, intuitive icons, reserved color schemes, and clean layouts are key for construction apps. Users often have to view documents, enter data, calculate numbers, or find contacts on smaller screens under challenging conditions, including varying lighting, noise, emergencies, etc. When an employee drives between job sites, walks across scaffolding, or operates machinery, distracting unnecessary push notifications or other signals can put them and others at risk.
A modular structure is the most effective approach to building apps for construction project management.
Using application programming interfaces (APIs) for implementing the core construction app functionality can save considerable development effort, time, and money. Agave API, Glenigan’s construction leads API, and Procore API are examples. For instance, Procore’s construction app APIs facilitate the integration of analytics and reporting features, CRM functionalities, time tracking, expense management, and other features.
You will likely need to use a combination of API services. The providers will provide you with their pricing plans when you contact them.
Your mobile app back-end development will likely include work on cloud infrastructure, database provisioning, storing persistent data, security, analytics, and more. You may rely on a ’Mobile Back-end as a Service' (MBaaS) provider to speed up your app launch. The provider will address these aspects during the back-end development and manage them afterward. Apple CloudKIT, AWS Amplify, and Progress Kinvey are some of the leading MBaaS providers.
Since Agile supports flexible iterative development, it’s excellent for startups and for building construction apps. We typically divide the development process into two-week sprints and test the produced features at the end of every sprint. The programmers build the infrastructure, integrate services, and code the features while the QA staff continuously tests the deliverables.
You need a good test automation tool that should work seamlessly with your build and deployment tools. The IBM DevOps tools are an example of a DevOps tool suite.
If you intend to market the product to construction businesses and professionals, you will also optimize it according to the appropriate app store’s standards and requirements following Google Play’s and Apple App Store‘s guidelines. Again, the experience of a specialized team will be advantageable.
One can calculate any software development cost by multiplying the specialists’ hourly rates by the hours they spent on the project. It would be much more straightforward if these two variables did not depend on multiple factors:
and more. It’s primarily the feature set and the hourly wages that determine the final price. It’s clear that it takes many more hours to develop a construction management app than a basic flooring calculator.
The contrast between the software developers’ hourly rates, say, in the US and India, can also be dramatic.
As a result, a custom construction app cost can run anywhere between $25K and $200K. Still, increased efficiency, enhanced safety, and improved bottom line will likely justify any price in the long run.
Read also: Mobile App Development Cost Breakdown
Onix has experience in construction contractor mobile app development. The client was a US company specializing in luxury housing. The need behind the project was to improve relationships with clients through greater transparency and regular updates.
The resulting app enables field teams to document their daily progress with photos and the clients – to monitor the construction remotely. The app also enables construction managers and workers to keep permits on hand on their mobile devices.
We also develop educational applications for the construction industry. For instance, in 2022, Onix’s VR developers created a series of immersive learning experiences for an American EdTech company.
The simulations provide hands-on training, albeit in the virtual world, to master real-life skills ranging from reading construction drawings to specific jobs like carpentry or plumbing. In a realistic but safe environment, a virtual coach shows how to perform essential tasks, gives instant feedback on a trainee’s actions and answers, and evaluates their performance.
Below, you can see another example, a gamified safety training VR simulation. The realistic experience of a skyscraper construction site is complete with noise and the sense of altitude. Users can move around the virtual site, handle virtual objects, don virtual PPE, and interact with checklists, guidelines, and warnings. Correct actions earn scores, whereas mistakes and violations of safety rules are dangerous only for the user’s avatar.
Construction businesses that want to stay competitive and grow will use more specialized mobile apps that are becoming increasingly effective and sophisticated. If the market does not offer a solution, sooner than later, your enterprise may need to create a construction mobile app for solving strategic and daily problems of architects, building contractors, workers, or others.
As the construction industry grows, so do its problems, but it makes the sector an ocean of opportunities for startups that can offer and monetize solutions to those problems. It’s possible to build a mobile app to support virtually every construction business process, from architectural design to sales.
Mobile apps make it easier to stay connected with teams, subcontractors, and clients and to stay organized, on schedule, and safe. They help automate workflows, boost productivity, improve quality, and reduce costs. Augmented reality is used to increase efficiency, streamline collaboration, and improve safety.
The adoption of mobile technology positively impacts companies of all sizes, and we’re likely to see more innovative and effective uses of construction mobile apps in the years to come. Still, it’s up to each entrepreneur to either start exploring them today and be ahead of the game or stay behind while competitors gain traction.
Do you have a construction app idea? Want to validate it quickly? Can’t decide on the feature set? Need a free consultation or budget estimate? Looking for an experienced software development team for your construction application development?
Why not take advantage of Onix’s custom mobile development services? Nothing could be easier than contacting us.
Onix is an outsourcing company that provides UX/UI design and audit services, web and mobile development, discovery, maintenance, and other services for clients worldwide across multiple industries. Our teams and specialists use Agile methodologies to manage changing requirements and adapt products to the current market.
Most construction businesses rely on construction apps to manage their projects digitally. The implementation of mobile construction apps results in the following improvements:
If you have a custom construction software solution, a mobile version will help you realize its full potential.
The average time frame is not less than three months.
Yes. Onix is an outsourcing company with experience in creating apps for construction companies. Our agency offers dedicated teams and experts in UX/UI design, web and mobile development, quality assurance, and other services for clients worldwide.