Over the past few years, our families have undergone home renovation and construction projects. Through these experiences, we've noticed that there is a clear lack of organization throughout the process which often delays projects and results in unexpected costs. FRAME serves as a centralized hub for construction projects that allows for communication, organization, and documentation between the project owner & their contracted team.
We imagine a platform where the homeowner can onboard his construction manager and crew onto the platform and be more connected than ever before.
What it does
FRAME allows homeowners to communicate directly with those involved in their construction projects. Through our chat based feed, not only do we allow rapid communication between all parties involved, but additional relevant information is shared to keep the project on track.
Users can upload documents to the platform and we will intelligently determine what kind of document is being shared and provide the necessary action items if necessary. For example, uploading an invoice document will alert the project owner who will be able to immediately approve the bill, triggering an automatic payment.
Uploading a photo of flooring, for example, would give an estimated cost of the material for the specific project.
Furthermore, users can create tasks and assign them to the responsible individual(s) so there is no confusion of what needs to be done. Keeping track of individualized assignments and deliverables on a daily or weekly basis can ensure the project is on track and on budget.
Lastly, FRAME helps construction projects abide by city regulations by allowing local planning agencies to virtually share and approve all necessary documents in order to complete a project. We're hoping to create a Google Drive type shared folder feature where homeowner can provide guest or shared access to critical stakeholders who may not be as involved in the day to day operations of the project.
How we built it
We envision this platform being mobile-first and gaining traction before making its way over to web. Therefore, we used Swift and SwiftUI to create the iOS application. For the short time span, we decided to focus on the user interface as well as the communications aspect of the application, an easy and a hard task respectively.
Regarding communication, we used Twilio’s Programmable Chat API to build out a mobile chat interface with multiple users as a way to represent the project feed. We also used Twilio’s SMS API to send invitation text messages to an invited account.
Challenges we ran into
We couldn't be in the same room because we were #quarantined. Raghav's WiFi crashed multiple times. Sanil's cat didn't want to say hello on camera. Ankur ate too many Oreos.
Having never built an iOS app, our team had to spend a lot of time understanding how app development differs from the traditional web development we are used to.
Additionally, we found that implementing chat through the Twilio API was considerably more difficult than we had imagined. Although there was good documentation, a lot of parts specific to Swift were left out and so we had to resort to a lot of "hacky" solutions.
Accomplishments that I'm proud of
Firstly, just willing to take the time to participate in LAHacks is huge. With everything going in the world and with this event moving to an online format, it takes an extra layer of dedication to participate in this event and every team in LAHacks should be proud of the time and effort they've put in.
As a team, we're proud to have pursued an idea we think can have an impact beyond just this hackathon. We were able to take an idea and build it into something tangible that we can share with others which is by no means easy but is without a doubt rewarding.
What I learned
Swift is powerful. Apple has done a remarkable job creating a language that is not only easy to pickup but also removes a lot of the traditional headaches of development (CSS is horrible).
We also learned a lot about our individual strengths and how we work together. This was the first time we all came together to work on a project and it was a great experience that we will definitely build on.
What's next for FRAME
We plan to continue to build out this product. We see a lot of value for governments, contractors, and homeowners planning future renovations. We plan to take time to discuss the idea with each of these stakeholders and incorporate their feedback into improving the product until we are ready to put it out into the market.
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