Home improvement – making it easy with mobile apps

This is a guest post by Drew Davies

It’s that time of year again and whether you’re spring cleaning or doing a major revamp, your smart phone can help you take the pain factor out of your DIY. From mixing your own paint palette to calculating exactly how much concrete you’ll need to construct a wall (or an entire house), there is an app to help you out; planning, budgeting, room layout, interior design, technical calculations and installations, shopping lists and project management are all covered.

The scope and emphasis across these apps varies. Proprietary tools, such as B&Q’s free iPhone app, offer ‘How to’ guides for technical jobs, store finders, wish lists and special offers, while others provide forums, articles by guest contributors and space for users to display their interior designs and other handiwork.

Here are some of our favourites:

  • Wiki How (iPhone, Free) – Offering a wide range of tips from “How to Clean Your Bedroom” to “How to Have Fun with your Cat”. There’s a search function, a “How to of the day” and most interestingly, a Survival Kit with advice on Animal Attacks, First Aid and Home Emergencies.
  • DIY Chatroom Forum (iPhone, Android, Free) – An app-based forum to discuss all your Home Improvement questions – from carpentry to flooring and DIY repair. The community seems knowledgable and good-humoured (see the response to “how to get tape off the wall” for a more tongue-in-cheek reply to a question) and although it’s a little US-centric (lots of talk of broken range cookers) this is a great way to crowdsource an answer to your difficult DIY issue.
  • HomeRoutines (iPhone, £2.99) – More of a productivity app, this brightly coloured scheduler allows you to add tasks by time of day, time of week or zone (such as kitchen or bathroom) which makes it especially useful for home repairs. There’s also an Accomplishments section for you to reflect back proudly on the day’s achievements (and maybe show your significant other).
  • Big Yellow Space Kit (iPhone, Free) – Should you need to move items out of the way while a room – or even your entire home – undergoes transformation, a self storage unit could provide the answer. Help is at hand in the form of this app, which features a cunning room layout tool (which you can populate with furniture), a paint calculator and storage archiver.
  • Dream Home (iPhone, iPad, £1.19) – A look book for people trying to decide on a new colour or style for a room, this app offers full color inspiration images. You can upload photos of your own home and, while it would have been nicer if the images were retina display, it comes with a great range of styles. This is a fun app to use in bed when you’re trying to prove a point about minimalist lines accentuating a modern bathroom. There’s also a Dream Home Spring version of the app, if you’re so inclined.

OK, so we’ve shared our favourites. Now over to you. Are there any mobile apps you have found useful when thinking about home improvement? Or have you tried some of the apps above and want to share what you think? As ever, tell us your thoughts in the comments.

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