Web-based Buildcloud aims to help architectural teams working on high-end projects to improve communications with their (high end) clients and contractors.
The latest entrant to the UK mobile-oriented construction collaboration market is Buildcloud, developed by a West Yorkshire-based startup, whose team includes an architect (Edward Park, formerly of Cartwright Pickard and Aedas, now a director of Leeds-based ParkDesigned) alongside others from web-design and branding backgrounds.
Product manager Cat Barrett told me Buildcloud is aimed at architects but also the general construction industry. Like most tools in this space it comprises a web browser-accessed application and a mobile app (currently just iPhone – “no android yet but we will look into that soon”). Marketing to date has been limited to a single page advert in the RIBA magazine, “but people are already signing up to the free trial, interestingly from all over the world”.
As you might expect for an application “designed by architects – for architects” (reminiscent of the now-defunct Woobius – April 2009 post – and the Avollio platform I looked at in August 2014), Buildcloud has a clean and modern design, and aims to smooth client management and communication. It is particularly targeted at architects dealing with “high end clients” who, Buildcloud says, “can be demanding and difficult to work with” and “want to be involved in everything, yet have time for nothing.”
The design team, for their part, are provided with a master drawing register – ensuring “you never build from out of date plans again, old drawings are automatically superseded and change notifications sent” (seemingly targeting a market reliant on 2D deliverables, not using BIM). The application also features a “revolutionary site notes editor” allowing “creation of site notes in seconds; add photos, create lists, assign actions and issue as a branded PDF all from the app” (maybe not that ‘revolutionary’ – many of these capabilities are built in to several other apps used for site diaries, snagging, etc).
For those not using the app constantly, a daily email digest is sent automatically showing all of a user’s project updates, while a Facebook-ish project newsfeed lets the client, designers and contractors communicate in real-time. The app also tracks project costs: “just record your contract tender cost and track changes as contract variations.”
While there is a free starter option (one client, one designer, one contractor – clearly aimed at modest-sized projects), the professional package is priced a £12 per user per calendar month, with unlimited projects, and – tantalisingly – a free tender. At this stage, Buildcloud simply says its tendering feature is “launching soon”. Having seen other online construction project tendering platforms (eg: RICS, DarleyeTender, Asktobi) launch and then struggle and even be discontinued, it will be interesting to see how this one fares (see also my April 2014 post on NexTenders).