Mobile apps to aid your home improvement tasks

Mobile apps to aid your home improvement tasks
Mobile apps to aid your home improvement tasks

Take a look around your home today. Chances are good there are some basic upkeep tasks you could stand to get done – or maybe there's a more serious problem, like loose shingles on your roof that are causing leakage. Or perhaps you're planning to sell the home at some point in the near future and it's repainting, renovations and additions you've got in mind.

All of these are equally important. Whether you want to make your home look better for your benefit or to attract the eyes of a buyer, it isn't always the easiest responsibility to shoulder, especially if you consider yourself a DIY individual and plan to handle much of the work on your own. 

Naturally, you should look for help wherever you can get it, from episodes of HGTV to consultations with home inspection contractors. And considering how thoroughly mobile devices have become intertwined in the fabric of our lives, why not use your smartphone or tablet to your advantage, to make your home improvement responsibilities somewhat easier? Check out some of the ways in which various apps can benefit the home repair and renovation process:

Mobile apps to aid your home improvement tasks
Mobile apps to aid your home improvement tasks

Brainstorming and shopping
You might know exactly what changes you're going to make, or which problems to solve. But even if you do, what materials do you want you use? Is the design you want to incorporate right for a particular interior space? Likely as not, you don't have it all figured out just yet. (Few of us do, in most contexts. Don't fret.)

This is where lifestyle apps come in. According to consumer advice expert Clark Howard's blog, Pinterest can be a big help for interior and exterior design. The lifestyle social network's app lets you dedicate specific "pinboards" to individual projects, each serving as a space for photo inspirations, products you plan to use and more, and by sharing your boards, you can get feedback and tips from other homeowners or designers. In a similar vein, Houzz's app helps you find photos of successful renovations similar to yours as well as blog posts explaining how they were done.

Finally, it's time to buy any tools and materials you need. You might want to stick with Houzz's online marketplace if its blog served you well, but other major home goods retailers like Lowe's and Home Depot also have useful apps. The former, in addition to its e-commerce and project management app, recently released an augmented reality app to make in-store navigation a breeze. It essentially creates your shopping list for you. Lowe's did this to catch up with its major competitor, which already had an augmented reality offering. Home Depot's app lets you view products as they might look in your home.

Apps for design
Pinterest has its limitations, and won't necessarily help with the nitty-gritty of design. But there are other apps for that. For example, Home Design 3D has a leg up on the augmented reality features of the Home Depot and Lowe's apps, as it visualizes the way your additions will look in full 3-D, which is how professional designers make their plans. It's available in both free and premium versions, the latter offering users more freedom in sharing their plans with others. 

Magic Plan fills a similar role. It incorporates data from photos you take of your house's interior and allows you to place virtual objects or features in a simulation of the space to get a sense of different looks. And if you're going to be painting, multiple apps serve this need alone, including Adornably, TapPainter and Home Depot's Project Color. 

Measurement and labor-assisting apps
When you're down to the physical work of home improvement, apps can be of help here too. iHandy Carpenter turns your phone into one of five tools – a protractor, ruler, plumb bob, bubble level and surface level. Android smartphone and tablet users can download Handyman Calculator to determine measurements and make conversions as necessary, while Builder Calculator serves the same purpose for those who use Apple iOS devices. 

What if you run into problems? You guessed it – there are apps for that as well. The e-commerce apps named above all have advice sections, and HGTV Magazine's mobile version serves as a great source of building, painting and renovation troubleshooting tips. Last but not least, if all else fails and you can't get everything done on your own, you can use the Angie's List app to take full advantage of the home improvement contractor listings site wherever you are and bring in a professional to handle the toughest jobs.