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Stuff to Buy

Stuff To Buy

  Phone Apps for Construction
  Design and Construction Books
  Construction Magazines
  Ned's Favorite Books
  Misc Stuff to Buy
  Gift Ideas

Phone Apps for Construction.  Current apps available are:


Steel Shape: Hot Rolled Steel Shape Dimensions and Attributes

Wood Beam: Design Simple Wood Beams

Steel Beam:  Design Simple Steel Beams

Conv Units: Unit Conversion for Common Construction Quantities


In Development:

ADA Code: Accessibility and ADA Code Help for IBC 2009

Strategy: Use Personality Profiles to Better Communicate

Design and Construction Books:

2006 International Codes on CD ROM - Complete Collection (PDF). Most construction people never really learn about codes, they just rely on the kindness of strangers (code officials, architects, project managers, etc). While learning to read code language doesn't come easily, I recommend you give it a try. The codes are expensive, so maybe your company will buy these for you. By the way, typically the most current version is adopted by the governing body, so you can rarely buy the appropriate code books used. Make sure you know the governing code in the area you work before you start on this adventure.

National Electrical Code 2005 Handbook Spiral Edition (NFPA 70) - If you work in an area where the 2005 NEC is the controlling electrical code, like it is for me, you really should have access to a copy. It's not simple to understand, but over time more and more can become clear.

The 2007 Means Building Construction Cost Data: Western Edition (Building Construction Cost Data Western Edition) book gives great information about levels of production and costs for many tasks on the jobsite. The current year books are expensive, so you may want to get a version from a few years ago. The labor rates will have changed, but the type of crew and the unit production for the task will likely stay about the same. We don't get that much faster from year to year, do we? It's really valuable to review this book as you consider how quickly work will get done on the jobsite and how many people should be onsite to be staying on schedule.

Architectural Graphic Standards by the American Institute of Architects provides all kinds of design information and details that are handy to check. Many times I've found myself checking this book when I'm trying to build something I haven't worked with before. The price of the book is high, so you may want to pick up a used version. It's a good reference to have on your shelf.

Land Development Handbook (Handbook) shows an incredible amount of information for all aspects of site work. The focus is on the design of site work systems, but gaining the insight on how and why things were designed can be helpful. Again, the book is expensive, so you may want to purchase a used copy.

Metal Building Systems: Design and Specifications, Newman, a good book to help you understand all aspects of pre-engineered building systems. If you work with this type of buildings, you will learn a great deal from reviewing this book. Again, it's an expensive book, so you may want to pick up a used copy.

The Art of Construction: Projects and Principles for Beginning Engineers and Architects (A Ziggurat Book) by Mario Salvadori does a fantastic job of clearly explaining the basic physical concepts of how buildings work. If you struggle to see structural concepts, this book shows you how to build simple models that clearly illustrate the theories.

2005 ASHRAE HANDBOOK : Fundamentals : Inch-Pound Edition (2005 ASHRAE HANDBOOK : Fundamentals : I-P Edition) provides theory and practical technical information. If you want a much deeper understanding of HVAC systems, you may want to pick up copies of this on the other three ASHRAE handbooks. Since these handbooks are updated every four years, used copies are available at great discounts.

Noise Control Manual for Residential Buildings (Builder's Guide) by David Harris, if you build multi-family residential projects, this book provides great tips and a general understanding of noise transfer between units and how to avoid it. Since most occupant complaints in multi-family housing units concern noise from neighbors, an understanding of the subject will help you. So many of the tips found in the book have to do with construction field details, things a Construction Supervisor could probably do several different ways without anyone really paying attention, but one of those ways will greatly reduce noise transfer. So I highly recommend this book if you work in multi-family projects.

Construction Magazines:

Engineering News Record seems to be the top commercial and industrial construction magazine. The emphasis tends toward executives and owners of construction companies, but lots of valuable information gets delivered in each issue. You may be able to read copies that your company receives, to see if you like it. 

Most magazines in the construction field are free. I suppose the advertisers really want to hit a targeted audience, so they send the free magazines to anyone interested in reading them. A great site to see all the free construction magazines is I encourage you to sign up for a couple of the free magazines and look over them.

Engineered Systems usually impresses me each month with practical insights on HVAC systems. By reading it, I keep abreast issues about HVAC that I'd otherwise know nothing about. I've learned that by knowing a bit more about HVAC than most people, my customers get a better vaule.

Plumbing and Mechanical and PM Engineer both focus on the plumbing and HVAC trades. The practical information helps me better understand what's going on with my projects. As I've noted elsewhere, most general construction supervisors and managers know little about Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing...see this as an opportunity.

There are lots of other good magazines at, so look around and sign up for what interests you.

Ned's Favorite Books:

Bonhoffer, Dietrich. The Cost of Discipleship. New York: Collier Books, 1959. Martyred as a spy against Hitler, Bonhoffer examines faith and grace in this book.

Borowski, Tadeusz. This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen (Penguin Classics). New York: Penguin Books, 1967. Compelling short stories written about life inside the camps of the Holocaust.

Chapman, Gary. The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate. Chicago: Northfield Publishers, 1992. A presentation of the five love languages with many examples and illustrations.

Covey, Steven. Seven Habits of Highly Effective People: Restoring the Character Ethic. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1989. A bestseller that has helped millions to be more effective.

Dickens, Charles. David Copperfield (Penguin Classics). Several editions available. Sometimes called the best novel ever written in English, David Copperfield prods us to see life from other points of view.

Dobson, James. The New Dare to Discipline. Colorado Springs, CO: Focus on the Family, 1992. The best book I’ve found for the tough job of raising children.

Dolgun, Alexander. Alexander Dolgun's story: An American in the Gulag. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1975. A sobering tale of how one’s life can change quickly, from carefree to torture victim to a labor camp worker.

Dostoevsky, Fyodor. The Idiot. Several translations available. A great novel that makes you think and feel deeply.

Foster, Richard. Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth. San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1988. A challenging book that discusses the specifics of relating to God.

Frankl, Victor. Man's Search for Meaning. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1959. Frankl’s remembrances from Auschwitz and his approach to psychotherapy. Should be required reading.

Lamott, Anne. Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith. New York: Pantheon Books, 1999. A book that will make you laugh out loud while challenging your preconceived notions of how the world works.

Lewis, C.S. Mere Christianity. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1943. Lewis examines the concepts of God and Christianity in the clearest of terms.

Lewis, C.S. The Great Divorce. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1946. A thoughtful and non-traditional view of what may happen after we die.

Lewis, C.S. The Screwtape Letters. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1942. One of the most creative books ever written, it should be read by everyone.

Zondervan NIV Study Bible. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1985. A great Study Bible, with notes and commentary.

Peck, M. Scott. People of the Lie: The Hope for Healing Human Evil. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1983. Peck’s case studies of human evil illuminate and fascinate. A brilliant book.

Peck, M. Scott. The Road Less Traveled: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growth. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1978. A bestseller that millions have used to think more deeply about their lives.

Peterson, Eugene. The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language (New Testament with Psalms and Proverbs). Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 1993. A marvelous paraphrasing of the New Testament which makes the stories come alive.

Solzhenitsen, Alexander. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch (Signet Classics). New York: Signet Classic, 1998 reprint. Solzhenitsen chronicles one single day in the Soviet labor camps.

Strobel, Lee. The Case for Christ. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1998.  Easy to read and well-documented, anyone curious about Jesus will learn much from this book.

Teresa, Mother. The Joy in Loving: A Guide to Daily Living. New York: Penguin Books, 1996. A book of quotes that challenges and inspires.

Tolstoy, Leo. Anna Karenina (Barnes & Noble Classics). Several translations available. One of the greatest novels ever written. After reading it, I decided to marry Debby!

Zinsser, William. On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction. Construction Supervisors have to write sometimes. They distinguish themselves if they write good English. This book explains the basics of clear, simple writing in terms you will understand. I think everyone should read this book.

Misc Stuff to Buy:


Vent and Drainage Slide Rule available from the American Society of Plumbing Engineers helps you know the correct pipe and vent size for a given number of drainage fixture units, how to determine how many drainage fixture units are in the system, and how the drainage pipe slope affects the capacity. If you do lots of plumbing work, this slide rule will be handy.

Water Pipe Size Calculator available from the American Society of Plumbing Engineers helps you know the correct pipe for various water velocities, pressure losses, and water service fixture units. This 9" circular slide rule can help you understand water flow much better.

The Trane Ductulator helps you understand the flows in round and rectangular ducts at various velocities and air volumes. Since ducts often have to be resized to pass pipes and obstructions, I've found this circular slide rule to be helpful to have a sense of what options may be available. The Ductulator is a hand held rotating calculator.

Of course, all the items above can also be found on Ebay, if you want to get even better pricing.


Gift Ideas:

I found a site with the Top Ten Gift Ideas for Construction Workers and thought it worth sharing here.