As perhaps the most technologically challenged person you’ll ever know, I nonetheless am an enthusiastic follower of the apps and other innovations that make buying, selling and living in our homes a little easier.
A sampling of the new and novel, from flooring that ostensibly clears the air to sump pumps that will text you with bad news:
How old is that kitchen? When you check out for-sale listings at realtor.com, you now may also get a glimpse into a home’s remodeling history. The website has partnered with porch.com, which says it has data on 90 million remodeling projects, gleaned from local building permit data, professional groups, building professionals and their clients. The data, called the Porch Home & Neighborhood Report, may include fix-up costs, photos and information on the professionals who did the work, said Porch and realtor.com.
That uh-oh feeling. If you’ve ever discovered, belatedly, that your sump pump has failed, and that water and assorted filth is filling your basement, you might take an interest in AdvanTEXT, a sump pump from Wayne Water Technologies that uses cellular technology to text you that there has been a power failure or that water is rising to an undesirable level. The system will dispatch the bad news to as many as three phone numbers simultaneously; also, you can text the sump pump for a real-time status update. No word on whether the sump pump also is on Twitter. waynewatersystems.com.
Floor plans. The RoomScan app obviously would be of interest to real estate agents, but it also could be a labor saver for anyone who wants to map out a home’s floor plan. It works only on iPhones programmed with motion sensors. To use it, touch the phone to each wall in a room. The app will guide you with voice commands and use sensor data to create a diagram of the room. The developer, Locometric, claims the app is accurate to within 6 inches. If you want more precision, there’s a $4.99 pro version that can include the locations of windows, doors and other details in the floor plans. locometric.com.
It’s open house season. If you’re an intense house hunter in a tight market who wants to be the first through the door at an open house, redfin.com has developed a free app for its website and for iPhones that lists open houses automatically by date and time. It includes a photo, house details and address for each property on your stalking list and provides directions from one house to another.
A sign of our times. You absolutely, unequivocally do not want to buy a home or rent an apartment that has been the site of a methamphetamine lab. Now, an analytic tool for laypeople that’s reminiscent of a pregnancy test kit promises to deliver results, yea or nay within four minutes, about the toxic drug’s presence. After use, AccuMeth Immediate can be disposed of as ordinary waste, meth or no meth, according to the manufacturer, which sells the kit for $24.95. accumeth.com.
Take a deep breath. The manufacturer of a new line of hardwood flooring says its product improves indoor air quality. It reacts to natural or artificial light and the movement of air to break down airborne toxins, according to the company, which says rooms with the flooring are up to 85 percent cleaner than those without it. Lauzon Flooring’s Pure Genius titanium dioxide technology breaks down bacteria, viruses and molds by transforming toxic airborne particles into water and carbon dioxide molecules, Lauzon says. The flooring also helps reduce certain common household odors, the firm says. lauzonflooring.com.
This post originally appeared on ChicagoTribune.com on May 3, 2014.