Unlike ConTech software, some tools simply can’t be replaced. There will always be a need for physical hammers, chisels and saws and when it comes to measuring tapes and spirit levels – there’s an app for that (on our phones) these days.
Across the AEC sector, new software solutions are launched every day. Most are focused on the top end of the industry putting them beyond the reach of smaller builders due to their complexity and price. For many of the small to medium size builders and developers we met at the International Builders’ Show (IBS 2023), there is a definite interest in software tools that can save them time and money, but the suspicion of another monthly subscription often outweighs any perceived or real benefits.
Aside from the negative perception around software subscriptions, a lack of flexibility and complicated onboarding processes are other factors contributing to a low take-up of technology among these business owners. Ultimately, when the biggest challenge to a technology solution is a manual way of doing things, in other words – “the way we’ve always done it”, how can business owners be expected to switch to a subscription based alternative.
What does ‘software’ actually mean these days
‘Software’ is such a broad term, widely used to encompass many different aspects of technology that we deploy every day from phone apps to web browsers and accounts packages to video games. Some software is now so commonplace that we no longer even think of it as ‘software’, so should the question for smaller builders really be “why isn’t there more software available that’s suitable for my business?”
Small builders must be flexible to survive
The value of many small businesses, across many industries, is their ability to be flexible and quickly switch from one type of work to another in response to economic drivers and consumer demand. For example, many custom builders have shifted into renovation work or ADU (accessory dwelling unit) construction as the costs of a full new build raced beyond the reach of their customers over the past couple of years.
Emerging ConTech entrepreneurs focus on custom builders
Despite the top-heavy focus within the Construction technology and Proptech sectors on the larger builders at the top end of the market, driven by the need to satisfy investor metrics, there is an emerging band of tech entrepreneurs focussed on providing useful tools to small and medium size builders, that really can save them both time and money. Opoplan is leading this field with tools to solve the key problems in the crucial pre-build phase of any single family, modular or ADU build. Starting with the most important decision, finding the right or best lot for the project, LotTech is an instant lot feasibility tool, and yes, it does fall within the broad definition of ‘software’.
While nothing can beat walking a lot to get a feel for it and measure out the size and buildable area, check the soil and consider slope and setbacks, LotTech eliminates the need to visit the lot before being sure of the construction contract. LotTech is easy to use and requires no onboarding or training. Available on a pay-per-test basis, LotTech allows builders to analyse any single family lot – remotely – with adjustable boundary lines and setbacks, buildable area and slope instantly available in a dashboard that is readable at a glance. Furthermore, LotTech allows the overlay of house, garage and ADU footprints that can be moved around, made bigger or smaller in size, to maximize lot coverage and fit.
For small and medium size builders, software clearly isn’t always the answer but it just might be worth taking another look.