Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Major Renovation Estimator mobile web app (alpha)

Loyal reader,

I have released on the web a alpha tester of the Major Renovation Estimator mobile web app.  It is a project I started about two years ago, and just re-opened a couple days ago... you know, because most of the major part of my renovation is done.  Perfect timing: this app will really come in handy now!

Anyway, the idea was that the frugal homeowner/renovator could use this mobile web app while they were at the lumber yard to create a number of scenarios and get a rough idea of price for a room.  If you have followed this weblog at all the past few years, you probably know that I sometimes enjoy moldings.  But, I'll let you in on a little secret: these molding selections don't just come naturally to me.  I usually have to draw up a few scenarios, and figure out what is right for the room size, aesthetic, feel, etc.  More often than not, the decision is often based on price.

Here's my personal secret to designing/building built-up molding profiles:

  1. Use stock moldings, or make your own!
  2. Get the complete molding listing sheets from a few different lumber yards.  I used to have them on my wall at work and on a wall back at the job site.  Get these things in your face constantly, as its never to early to begin thinking about the finishing touches.  Just do it.
  3. Pick one (1) special molding from the yard's "legacy" or "vintage" series, and build that into your profile.  These are often at least 3x the price, so (a) choose wisely and (b) go big or go home.
  4. Do not be afraid of nagging the lumber yards for prices over the phone.  Every yard has service reps because they are interested in your business, regardless of your project.  Develop a relationship with your local crew, and call them even if your list of prices you need to quote is two pages long.  Lumber yard prices change like the NASDAQ (actually, its more commensurate with fuel prices and supply), so your quote from three months ago is likely obsolete.  Call again.
  5. Check your pricing against the few designs your have for your built-up moldings.  See if you can sidestep to a similar profile if one of your molding is $40 for a 16 footer.   Or, perhaps you can afford that $40 piece if the length isn't too enormous and you just really need to have that detail.  (Trust me, I've been there).
Occupy Archives: Textbook lumber order,  from New Years Day.
I've since blacked this era of my life out from mind, which has strengthened my will to live.

So, this is where the software comes in.  I'm always jotting down prices in my notebook, calculating lengths in spreadsheets, and sometimes I just need to know is something is feasible; or, if its worth doing at all.  With this mobile web app, you should be able to punch in some rough details about your room in question and get some answers about how much its going to cost.  

*** Be warned: renovating a house is much more expensive than the average joe thinks. This software will probably scare you off from doing anything to your house.  You can thank me later.

It goes beyond just moldings.  Thinking about taking a ceiling down??  Use the Sheetrock sector of the Major Renovation Estimator and price it out before you reach for the sledgehammer (and before your wife reaches for the divorce papers!)

Before you go blasting me about how crappy my software is.. just remember: this is the alpha version.  Its available for testing.  I've left some garbage in there because its a work in progress.  Just try it and see if it works.  
  1. If it doesn't, let me know in the comments.  
  2. If it does, but you have ideas for making it better, let me know in the comments.  I have a ton of ideas too.  Please share your thoughts because I want to make this useful.
  3. If you would rather help me with the coding, the source code is here.  Fork the code. and let's take this thing to the next level!
Major Renovation Estimator: screen shot of input screen

Click through and add your own profile for a room. If you are lazy, I put a Random Number Generator at the top of the app, because its easier to have the computer pick fictitious number for you to test the app.  Obviously, this will not be in the final release.  You are special, loyal reader.  It's as if you've won the Wonka golden ticket...  you are an alpha tester for the Major Renovation Estimator mobile web app.

Honestly, this thing has been done for over two years, I just never "wired up" the Sheetrock and Paint classes, because the thing was built so modular-ly (no classes) that inter-relationships between each "renovation sector" was difficult to facilitate.  At that stage, the project was really just a pet project to get me familiar with jquery mobile, and I figured I had already achieved my own personal goal without actually completing the software.  While I'm not particularly proud of the code that I just released, its working complete to my vision for now.  I plan on improving it at some point.

Major Renovation Estimator: screen shot of results screen

My renewed interest in the Major Renovation Estimator was fueled by another project that I am collaborating on with an old friend... the javascript modular clock.

Hopefully you find this app useful for your next project.  Give it a test drive and see.  

Unfortunately, I don't own a smart phone so I can't even test it, let alone use it.  But this isn't for me.. its for you, loyal reader.

Your welcome.

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