Software for housebuilders – what is it and do you need it?
What software do you use in your company? Most UK housebuilders will be accustomed with generic office programmes like Microsoft Word or Google Sheets. However, as a whole, the construction industry makes relatively little use of specialised software for housebuilders.
Indeed, in a recent survey of 300 builders, less than a quarter said they were using any kind of dedicated software tools for residential developers.
So, do you need software for housebuilders? Here’s everything you need to know about this kind of IT.
What is software for housebuilders?
Software for housebuilders covers a wide range of technologies that, in different ways, facilitate the construction of residential homes. These tools aim to digitise many of the activities that property developers, architects, builders and facilities managers do every day. Software for housebuilders tries to replace manual paper-based approaches with digital technologies instead. These tools are often (but not always) specifically designed for the needs of the construction industry.
There is a huge range of types of software available to UK housebuilders – everything from 3D modelling technology for architects, to site diary apps for builders, to software for facilities managers. These tools aim to:
- Improve efficiency: By using digital tools for residential developers, it should become much quicker to collect, share and store information. It’s also easier to find it later.
- Reduce errors and mistakes: Software for housebuilders aims to bring all information and communications into a central place. This means everyone should be able to see the information they need and reduces the risk of misunderstandings.
- Run projects more productively: Digital tools can help you to identify areas of waste, inefficiency and find ways to use your resources more effectively.
Overview of software for housebuilders
There are many different software tools for residential developers available. The following list covers some of the main types of technology that UK housebuilders might want to consider:
3D design software
Over the past decade, we have seen a significant rise in the use of BIM technology by UK housebuilders – largely thanks to government policy. BIM programmes like ArchiCAD allow designers to create accurate 3D models which can easily be shared with all stakeholders. They are more interactive and easier to use than paper blueprints.
Beyond BIM level 2: Read our analysis of the UK’s BIM policy
There are several project management software solutions that the construction industry can use to monitor progress and track budgets. This software should offer real-time updates as well as reports for keeping stakeholders in the loop.
Various types of software for housebuilders deliver up to date building plans to workers on the construction site. These apps send the latest plans directly to the user’s mobile device so they can access them. They can then pin tasks to the plan or compare plans with previous versions to find the changes.
Communication tools for residential developers
There is a wide range of mobile communication apps that UK housebuilders can use. Mobile-based tools mean everyone on the project can discuss problems, share images and resolve issues regardless of location. These technologies go from basic texting apps like WhatsApp to business chat software like Slack or construction-specific communications tools.
Let’s talk: 3 steps to communicate better in construction
Snagging and quality management
There are various types of software for housebuilders which allow you to identify snags on a building plan and share these with your colleagues. The site manager can assign tasks to workers to complete remedial work then ask them to send photos of completed jobs.
Health & Safety tools for residential developers
UK housebuilders are obliged to comply with Health & Safety regulations and there are many apps that can support this. These tools let people report on accidents, highlight potential dangers around the site and may also include training modules.
Document management and handovers
There are several kinds of software for housebuilders which let you gather and manage all relevant and legally required documentation around a project. At the handover stage, these apps also let you digitally complete, compile and share handover documents.
Apps for aftercare and the warranty period
UK housebuilders can use a variety of apps that support facilities management as well as allowing buyers to report defects and snags during the warranty period.
Challenges for UK housebuilders when choosing software
While the benefits of software for housebuilders is clear, there are a number of challenges to its uptake in the industry:
- Low uptake by site teams: To make the most of tools for residential developers, you need everyone on board with the technology. However, this can be difficult to achieve if you are working with lots of subcontractors that have their own tools and processes.
- Variety of tools for residential developers: Search online for ‘construction software’ and you will soon be overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of technology out there – deciding which is right for you can be a challenge.
- Skills and training: Many UK housebuilders lack internal skills and technology training to make the most of this new generation of IT.
How to choose digital tools for residential developers
Given the variety of available software for housebuilders, it can be difficult to decide which to use on your projects. Here are some simple steps to begin narrowing down which construction software you should use:
- Begin with your problems and pain points: Talk to different stakeholders to find the obstacles in their daily processes. For example, perhaps site workers are frustrated when building plans are updated, but they don’t see the changes in time.
- Match tech to the problems: Once you have a list of common problems your organisation is facing you can then seek out technology to address them. In our example of building plans changing, you’d want to use a technology that supports plan comparisons that everyone can see.
- Stitching together: It might not be possible to find a single IT programme which addresses all your problems. However, a major benefit of modern software for housebuilders is that it can often be digitally stitched together so that data flows from one app to the next (this is done through an API).
PlanRadar – supporting UK housebuilders
PlanRadar is a part of a new generation of digital tools for residential developers. The mobile and desktop app combines a variety of features that support UK housebuilders to work more productively and efficiently. From tracking defects to conducting building inspections or managing maintenance tasks, PlanRadar brings you the most impactful features of software for housebuilders.
Learn more about PlanRadar and how it can support you today.