Smartphones and tablets have the potential to change the remodeling business for the better, but only if you have the right applications (apps). Here’s the problem: There is no one “remodeling business.” Our profession covers general contractors to swimming pool installers to replacement contractors to pro handyman operations, each with a different set of requirements.

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Generic small-business apps might give you a “list,” but it probably won’t be a “punch list.” Industry-specific apps aimed at general remodeling or home building often don’t allow enough specialization to support a specialty operation such as a replacement contractor. The solution is to “roll your own.” But we’re contractors not software developers. That’s where Canvas  comes in.

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A “framework” that lets you easily create custom software, Canvas runs on any of the major mobile operating systems. Install the app on your mobile device(s) and either buy an existing construction app and tweak it or use “app builder” tools to create specialized list-based applications, e.g., detailed estimating tools, punch/defect lists, or tracking forms — practically anything you’d need. The created apps and data generated are stored in “the cloud.”

So far, I’m impressed. Canvas fills the need for specialized software tools at an affordable cost. As a “Software as a Service” (SaaS), you can pay as you go (50 cents per form/app submission) or pay $20 per user per month ($210 per year) for unlimited access to the core framework.

—Joe Stoddard is an industry consultant helping remodelers be successful with their technology.; [email protected]

More REMODELING articles about apps for remodelers:

Comparing Cloud-Based Apps

Apply Yourself — Three handy smartphone/tablet calculators

What I Like — Remodeler recommends this nifty scanner app