Self-Taught MBA: An App for Designer and Builder Collaboration
Because we work with others, make that “many others,” in the building business communication is the often the key to quality construction. Communication failures are the most common source of our problems. One line of communication that has caused me headaches lies between the designer and the builder. Sometimes it’s a subtle but important detail that eludes my superintendent, other times it’s an architectural detail impossible to construct as drawn. The process of producing, approving, and exchanging shop drawings can tie up a job in midstride, causing delays and added expenses.
Enter PlanGrid, a new app by developer Loupe, Inc. allows the designer to upload his or her PDF project plans and specs to www.plangrid.com, making them available to anyone registered on the project team using an iPad or an iPhone. This not only provides a cheap, free, and convenient plan depository, but it also allows anyone on the team to ask questions and share markups, photos, and other construction documents.
You can download a basic version for free, which will provide you 50 pages of plans. I am using this currently as I have a construction project abroad that has made it tough to share information efficiently with partners in the United States. But I would use it locally, too. If you like the product, and need more storage, an upgrade provides 550 pages of project drawings for $19.99 per month. You can delete pages to make room for more. As a homebuilder, I’ve never had plans that large. And it is a pay-as-you-go model, not a subscription service, so you could use it for just one project. The company provides free training, which I recommend so you don’t spend a lot of time trying to figure it out.
For the advanced user, the program features field reports, punch list management, and as-builts. If you look online, consumer evaluations are generally very favorable, which jives with my experience. I’m not a big app fan, but this one is especially useful to keep the builder organized, and the jobsite workgroup up to date.
Available in English and Spanish, you can download the app on iTunes, just search for PlanGrid, or click here to get the program.