Smartphones can help you do everything these days: order food, keep up with your finances, video chat with family, and play games. Have you ever thought about what home inspection apps you can use for your business? There are several different areas that apps can be a big help. We’ve divided the apps into categories, so whether you have an iPhone or an android, you can find an app for the job.
1. On-site report writing software
We have a whole article about why you need a report writing software, but in addition to the desktop version many companies offer a mobile version as well. This allows you to start your report (and maybe even finish it if that’s your style) while you’re at the inspection site. The app will sync to your desktop version through the cloud. So the report will be waiting for you at your computer when you get home. Think of all the time you could save by getting a head start on your reports. HomeGauge, Horizon, TapInspect, and Spectora all have mobile apps. I’m sure many of the other companies do too. Be sure to check the pricing when you sign up because sometimes the mobile app and cloud services are an extra charge.
You want to have this on a device you are comfortable using. It will help you speed up the time it takes to write the report. And puts out a more consistent product. It will also help you not to miss things because it has the inspection flow that you can double check.
2. Photo Transfer Apps
If you’re like me, you take hundreds of photos every day. I usually take 100-200 pictures at each inspection. Since it’s a daily task, I want my photo transfer as easy as possible. I currently use an SD card that goes from the camera to the computer. It’s pretty easy, but as I research these apps I see how much easier it could be. Read about the digital camera I use here. Especially if you use your phone to take photos. Apps like Dropbox and Google photos will automatically upload your photos from your phone to the app’s cloud. When you get home, you can easily pull them down from the cloud and insert them into your report. Plus, it’s great for backup. They’re organized by date, so if you need to go back and review something from a past inspection, you can just search by date and pull everything up easily. You’ll always have a copy available wherever you are. And the backups won’t take up space on your computer. We all know how fast a hard drive can fill up!
Related: Best digital cameras for home inspectors
If you use a digital camera, check to see if the camera brand has an app. Most of them do these days. One of the great features is that you can easily transfer your photos from the camera to your phone. If your camera is equipped with wifi, it will create a mini-network that your phone can connect to. The app will help the transfer of the photos. This is great if you want to get a good picture with the camera, but also want to work on the report onsite on your phone. This is a great trick for crawlspaces. If you don’t want to get your phone out because of the dust and dirt, use a rugged digital camera and then transfer the photos to your phone once you’re out of the crawlspace. It will save the photos to the photos app on your phone, just like any other photo.
Dropbox / Google Photos
You’ll also want an app to back up your photos. We use Dropbox because we can also use it to backup other types of documents, including our voice recordings of inspections. But Google Photos is a good option too. It can automatically backup your photos everyday, so you don’t have to worry about doing that yourself.
Depending on your workflow with report writing, these apps can help you work faster too. Photos are automatically uploaded from your phone to the cloud. Then you can pull them down from the cloud and onto your computer when you’re writing the report.
3. Speech to text
I find talking into my phone or computer is much faster than typing, especially when it comes to my phone. My fingers are just too big for those little buttons. But thanks to speech to text, I dont have to type. iPhone and Android both have a speech to text function built in. But if you find those dont work well for you, check the App Store for third party apps. I use Dragon software on my computer and it works like a dream. No more hunt and peck typing for me! It has saved me hours on every single report.
4. Mileage tracker apps
As home inspectors, we all drive a lot. It’s good for business to offer a wide service area, but it means many miles on your vehicle. Luckily, the government offers a great tax write-off for miles driven for business. Keeping track of when you drive for work and personal trips can get overwhelming. When I first started I kept a handwritten mileage log in my car. I had to record every trip when I got out each time. If I forgot one time, everything would be off track. This is one of the ways smartphones help a ton. There are several apps that will record your trips driven in the background. When you open the app you’ll get a nice and neat list of times and distances you’ve driven. Easily classify them as business or personal. Doing this throughout the year will save you a headache at tax time. MileageIQ and Quickbooks Self Employed both do this function well.
Bonus: Speaking of driving a lot, if you like to listen to podcasts, check out the app Overcast. It will let you make a playlist of podcasts for the day. When one is over it’ll go straight to the next one you’ve planned out. Plus you can control the playback speed. There are many great marketing podcasts out there that will give you some great tips for marketing.
5. Gas Saver apps
GasBuddy makes it super easy to compare gas prices. It will pull up a map of every gas station in the area and show the prices for each. It will highlight the cheapest price nearby. Prices are reported by the owners or by other users. The last updated time is shown so you know how up to date the prices are.
6. GPS with Traffic Updates
By now, your phone’s GPS is probably a life line. You may have noticed Google Maps has added different colors along your route that indicate the level of traffic. Another handy app, Waze helps you avoid traffic as much as possible. Type in the inspection address and it will tell you the fastest route to get there, taking traffic into account. Users report accidents and cars stopped on the side of the road. Anything that could affect your drive is reported by other people taking the same route (by passengers and not drivers, of course). This can save a ton of time especially if your inspection falls around rush hour. Plus it gets rid of that nagging feeling that comes with sitting in traffic that there could be a better way.
7. Google My Business
Google’s My Business tools and apps are great for getting your company to show up in search results. Read more about what Google My Business can do for your home inspection company here. There are a few things you need to do to your local business profile to get it in good standing with Google. One of those is responding to reviews quickly. (Read about the other things you need to do here.) The Google My Business app will notify you when you get a new review and allow you to respond inside the app. It also shows you how many times your business is showing up in searches. If you have Google Analytics set up it will show you a summary of how many website views you have.
Related: Our guide to home inspection SEO
8. Interapt Roof Gauge
The Interapt Roof Gauge app will tell you the slope of the roof. But it will also let you take a photo with an overlay of the measurement of the slope. This is perfect for inserting into a report. A visual like that can go a long way in explaining the pitch. Plus it looks super professional. There are other apps like Pitch Gauge that will do the same thing. I dont use these apps because I think the client doesnt need to know the pitch of the roof. They want to know if the roof is in good condition. But I know other inspectors use these apps. I dont use the level app either. If a floor is not level, I can tell by walking on it. Usually I will tell the client what direction the home faces, whether it faces south or west. That is a useful bit of information that isn’t really related to an inspection but its nice to know.
Related: Find the tools that make life as a home inspector easier on our Resource Page.
9. Google Translate
Being able to communicate with clients is everything in this business. We provide information and understanding after all. If your client speaks a different language than you, communicating gets tough quick. Enter Google Translate. You can either type, handwrite, or speak the phrase you want translated and the app will give you the translation a second later. It will speak it and show the spelling on the screen. The accuracy has been rated between 4.3 and 5.43 on a scale of 1-6 by people native to the language in question. I wouldn’t recommend using this for a translation of the technical aspects of the inspection because of unforeseen nuances. But for conversation and giving a summary of your findings, it does the job.
Another good option is iTranslate. This app will do the translation in real time, so you both can speak like a regular conversation and then read the meaning from the screen, in both languages.
10. Infrared Camera app
As the technology for infrared detection gets better, its nice to use as a back up to your infrared camera. If you have the phone out already taking photos, you can switch to an IR app to take a quick scan. Since cell phone cameras aren’t set up exactly like the human eye, they can “see” things in the infrared frequency. The apps out there that help you tap into the technology of your phone are improving every year. I would check out the ratings in the app marketplace you use until you find one that seems like a good pick. There are several out there with low ratings. Having an app that crashes all the time or isn’t accurate is the same as not having the app at all. So find a good one.
11. Scheduling app
Having your calendar handy means one less thing to keep track of. It’s nice to know you don’t have to keep all the information in your head. Having an app tell you where to go and when plus the names of the clients and agents makes everything a lot easier. This is especially great for multi inspector firms. Every inspector can check in on their schedule whenever they want. No waiting for an email and wondering if there are any changes. Everything is update live. It’s nice to look up the combo codes or agent names before you get to the inspection.
Keep in mind, you’ll need decent cell reception for all of these apps. If you work in an area where service can be spotty, you might want to look for other alternatives. Or at least keep a backup. Another great thing to have if you rely on these apps for home inspections is to keep a backup battery. These external batteries are like a power pack. You charge the power pack at home first. Then you can plug your phone into the power pack and it will charge your phone without needing access to a wall outlet.