The Best Home & Interior Design Apps for Your Construction & Renovation Projects

Taking on a home project can be a challenging and rewarding experience. If you have tackled this type of task before, it can be downright daunting. Fortunately, a variety of applications are available to help alleviate anxiety and move your renovation toward a fun and satisfying conclusion. The tools and materials you’ll need will depend on the scope of your endeavor. Finding the right app for the job is equivalent to finding the right tool in the physical world; there are so many that identifying the right one can be a challenge. Fortunately, I’ve tested a diversity of apps and will share a handful here that can help make your next home-improvement effort a success.

Related: Buyer’s Guide 2019: Smart Home Devices for Safety, Security & Energy Savings

Measure twice, cut once, and mount straight is the motto for any successful home-improvement project. To that end, one of the simplest yet most effective tools in any carpenter’s toolbox is a ruler, followed closely by a level. Having these items is a necessity, yet it’s easier to use a tool that’s always with you—your iPhone. The developers at iHandy came to the same conclusion, which is why their iHandy Carpenter app ($1.99) is quite handy indeed. The program provides an on-screen level, ruler, protractor, and plumb bob to ensure you can make perfect measurements and alignments. If something doesn’t look quite right, check it using the iHandy Carpenter app instead of hunting down that level you stashed in the garage.

Another helpful application is Double Dog Studios’ Home Improvement Calcs ($1.99). This program offers a collection of over 250 useful and nicely formatted calculators for home building and maintenance tasks. You don’t need to be a math major or a contractor to use these tools, either. You’ll find a number of area, volume, and angle calculators; exterior and interior building materials; electrical conversions; cost estimators; framing and lumber; HVAC; and yard areas. The app has been updated regularly, though the interface has yet to take full advantage of the screen real estate on the iPhone X and later.

If you’re planning an expansion, you can use Sensopia’s Magicplan (free) to draw out or scan in (via the app’s Augmented Reality camera tool) floor plans of your existing structure and generate 3D models. You can further edit the plans on your phone or tablet or export them via several popular file formats. The app comes with over a thousand objects such as doors, windows, stairs, appliances, and cabinets to more clearly visualize your future abode. While Magicplan’s base app is free, consider the company’s $9.99 per month subscription plan for access to its more sophisticated features.

If you’re interested in altering the interior of an existing structure, such as updating your bathroom or kitchen, and don’t want to go to the trouble of measuring the rooms by hand, Locometric’s RoomScan Pro ($8.49/year) offers several flexible options. The easiest way is to use the application’s augmented reality 3D plan generator. Like most AR apps, the camera can be finicky and require additional measurements once the base is done. However, for quick scans and a collection of general ideas, it’s a fast way to get started on your project. Another option is to touch the walls with your iPhone and have RoomScan Pro estimate measurements for you. The third and most accurate approach is using an external Bluetooth laser. While typical homeowners will rarely use this option, professional contractors may find it invaluable for floor plan captures and project estimates. Regardless of which method is used, the program can not only map the results but also export the captured floor plans to various file formats.

Whether you are adding on to your home or remodeling a room, you will likely be painting at some point. The Home Depot has created a free AR program called Project Color to help you review your options. The app is easy to use; simply point your iPhone or iPad camera at any wall and choose the color you would like to test. Once you have decided, the color mix is provided to Home Depot, and you can make your purchase directly from the app. You can also store virtual color swatches, should you need to coordinate or touch up later.

Once the colors of your walls are set, it’s time to decorate the room. One of the more popular interior design programs is Houzz Home Design & Renovation (free), an app available for the iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV. Source a spectrum of furnishings and virtually place the items into your room via Houzz’s augmented reality view. Houzz also features videos with popular celebrities redecorating family homes via the Apple TV app, as well as on their popular HouzzTV YouTube channel. For those who prefer a similar service without the celebrity endorsements, check out Havenly (free). While the program doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of Houzz, it offers the option to be connected to an interior design consultant who can help make expert decisions on what furniture and decorating accessories would make the perfect functional and visual impact.

Finally, if you decide after all the evaluation and planning that the project needs a carpenter, electrician, or another skilled craftsperson, check out the free HomeAdvisor: Find a Contractor app. This app runs beautifully across the entire Apple family, from the iPhone and iPad to the Apple Watch, and even on Apple TV. I find using the app a much more intuitive and efficient way to navigate the various options than HomeAdvisor’s website. The Smith: Home Remodel (free) app is another sourcing program to help you find the ideal contractor for your project.

There is no shortage of home improvement apps on the App Store, but just like a brick-and-mortar hardware store, there’s an overwhelming array of options. Hopefully, this article has provided you with the guidance you need to tackle your next home project, from the floor plan to the finishing touches.

Top image credit: Tyler

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Author Details

Mike Riley's picture

Author Details

Mike Riley

Mike Riley is a frequent contributor to several technical publications and specializes in emerging technologies and new development trends. Mike was previously employed by RR Donnelley as the company’s Chief Scientist, responsible for determining innovative technical approaches to improve the company’s internal and external content services. Mike also co-hosted Computer Connection, a technology enthusiast show broadcast on Tribune Media's CLTV.