Construction Tips & Tricks

Cleaning out bulldozer tracks
Use a sharpshooter drain spade to clean the dirt out of the tracks on bulldozers and excavators. The narrow blade fits between the tread links. This is especially useful in the winter as the dirt freezes overnight and causes the tracks to jam.

Get the angle on wall demo
The anvil end of our Total Control Elite demo sledge pinpoints the full force of your swing on the outer edges of the block when knocking down block walls.

Pot Hole Repair
Our Moulder/Asphalt Shovel was designed with a flat blade for use in pothole repair to tamp down the repair material and level it with the existing asphalt.

Removing Shingles
You can use a heavy duty spading fork to remove fiberglass and asphalt shingles during a roof replacement. Also a long handle Garden Spade or D-handle Garden Spade may be used as a “non-fulcrum” version of a roofing shovel.

Backfilling a trench
Concrete Movers can be used in conjunction with a power trencher to push the soil back into a trench after the pipe or wire has been inserted.

Pouring deck footers
The EZ Pour™ Wheelbarrow, with integrated pour spout, is a great choice for deck builders to pour concrete into footers. The spouted end ensures accurate delivery and minimizes wasted spills.

Cleaning out a concrete chute
The Cub Shovel head design is ideally shaped to remove concrete from the chute of a ready-mix concrete truck

Clearing Excess Concrete
The D-Handle Eastern Pattern Steel Scoop is a light weight alternative to a concrete rake to pull back excess screeded concrete.

Debris build-up on shovel steps
Rolled step shovels minimize debris build-up in the step area of a shovel. This is ideal for asphalt or concrete applications.


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10 Golden Rules for Saving Money on Construction

Whether you’re doing a home renovation or building from scratch, it’s nice to be able to cut back on expenses in any construction project. Construction can get expensive, and since it’s not as easy to get a loan as it was before the housing bubble burst, chances are you’re working on a tight budget.

My husband and I added on to our house in the winter of 2011 and replaced the roof on the older part of the house in early 2012, so construction was a fact of life around here for about half a year. In the process of hiring contractors, working with an architect, and dealing with the day to day headaches of a large-scale renovation, I learned some of these money-saving tips the hard way, lucked out with others, and wish that I’d known a few more before we broke ground.

There are three ways to save money on construction projects: Cutting back on up-front costs, avoiding expensive mistakes, and making the finished structure less expensive to inhabit. From hiring workers and sourcing materials to doing some of the work yourself, there are lots of tricks to stay within your budget without cutting too much out of your project.

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50 Tips for Anyone Building a New Construction Home

It’s always exciting to build a new construction home! Of course a process this big and expensive comes with a lot of stress and anxiety. You can help ease some of the stress of building a new construction home by simply planning ahead. Planning for a new home can take months or even years.

Most people fortunate enough to be able to build a new construction home consider it their dream home, one filled with all the bells and whistles they’ve seen in magazines or admired on television. To make the home building process an exciting and fulfilling experience read as much as you can and do your homework!

Spend time researching the latest building trends and materials. Talk to people in the real estate and home building industry, do extensive online research and ask lots of questions. In the end, you will be thankful you spent so much time preparing to ensure your new construction home really is a dream come true!

50 Tips For Building A New Construction Home

Whether you’re building a sprawling new construction ranch home, a traditional two-story home or a cozy cottage in the woods, please take a few minutes to read through my 50 helpful tips for building a new construction home.

Check references before signing a contract to build a new construction home.
Check references before signing a contract to build a new construction home.

1. Check References From Your New Construction Home Builder

2. Hire Your Own Structural Engineer

3. Have A Professional Attorney Review The Contract

4. Fully Examine The Complete Home Builders Warranty

5. Choose Your Homesite Carefully

6. Talk To The Neighbors

7. Shop Around For Financing

8. Set A Realistic Budget

9. Make A Priority List & A Wish List

10. Ask What The Builder Includes In The Base Price

11. Ask What The Builder Charges Extra For

12. Ask What Fee The Builder Charges To Build The Home

13. Examine The Cost Estimate Line-by-Line

14. Work With A Certified Architect To Design The Floor Plan

15. Mentally Walk Through The Floor Plan (Over And Over Again)!

16. Examine The Natural Light & Window Sizes (Consider Views)

17. Understand The Property Boundaries

18. Consider A Walkout Or Lookout Basement

19. Protect Mature Or Old Growth Trees On The Property

20. Research The School District & Property Taxes

21. Expect To Spend More

22. Take Time To Build It RIght

23. Be Flexible

24. Don’t Build The Most Expensive Home In Your Neighborhood

25. Plan For Outdoor Living Space

26. Include Energy Efficient Features

27. Enhance Bedrooms With Tray Or Vaulted Ceilings

28. Position The Laundry Convenient To Bedrooms

29. Create Wide Walkways & Stairways

30. Include A Walk-In Pantry

Single-story ranch homes are gaining in popularity.

More reputable new construction home builders typically offer model homes for potential buyers to see their work. These are the ranch model homes at Henning Estates in Huntley built by Rock Creek Homes, an Illinois new home builder.
More reputable new construction home builders typically offer model homes for potential buyers to see their work. These are the ranch model homes at Henning Estates in Huntley built by Rock Creek Homes, an Illinois new home builder. | Source

31. Allow Ample Work Spaces In The Kitchen

32. Reconsider High-Maintenance Materials (Marble, Stainless, Natural Stone)

33. Whenever Possible Use Low Or Maintenance-Free Building Components

34. Price Compare & Purchase Fixtures Online (Lighting, Plumbing, Blinds)

35. Invest In Great Closet Storage Systems

36. Enhance Walls With Sconce Lighting

37. Add Ambiance With Dimmer Switches

38. Make Sure Porches Are 6′ Deep Or More (For Furniture)

39. Include Outlets Outside & On Roof Line (For Holiday Lights)

40. Include Space For Your Hobbies (Craft Room, Extra Garage Space, Garden)

Tour this new construction ranch home by Rock Creek Homes.

41. Don’t Skimp On The Details

42. Ceilings Should Be At Least 9 Feet High

43. Enhance The Home With Unique Trim & Moldings

44. Consider Some Extra Conduit Behind Walls For Future Electrical

45. Plan Smart For Outlet Locations (Computer, Coffee Maker, Modem, TV, Etc)

46. Insulate, Insulate, Insulate

47. Know That Adding Something Later Will Always Cost More

48. Go To Home Shows To Get Ideas & Take Pictures

49. Stay Organized With A Binder For Paperwork & Save All Correspondence

50. Remember, If Designed Right, A Great Home Doesn’t Have To Be Huge

Have you built a new home? What would you add to this list?

If you have built a new construction home and would like to share tips based on your experience, please share with us @

7 Steps to Better Framing & Layouts

Framing. It’s the interior skeleton that holds most structures together. But it’s more than just a few sticks of wood and nails. If it’s not done correctly, it’s going to be more like a house of cards that’s ready to topple over at any minute. Kevin Spacey might approve, but your building inspector won’t. Whether you’re framing an interior wall or an entire house, consider these seven key framing tips and layout tricks prevent your next framing project from looking like an old shanty that’s ready to fall to pieces.

On Center or Off Center?

When you’re pulling a measurement across the face of your top and bottom plate for a stud layout, typically the layout is 16” on center, right? But more often than not, when the measurements get pulled, the person doing the layout makes their marks on each 16” increment. The problem with that is that now the layout is off center. If you attach a piece of plywood, sheetrock or other panel goods to the studs, it’s going to be off where the stud breaks with the edge of the board. To ensure your layout is correct, you’ll need to set the layout ¾” behind the actual 16” increment. This pushes the studs over just enough so the next piece of plywood, sheetrock, etc. breaks perfectly on a stud.

Framing Gone Wrong

Framing gone wrong

Top and Bottom Plates

This mistake happens quite often when you’ve got multiple walls to frame up. The bottom plates or top plates get cut to the wrong length and you end up having to buy more materials because you just wasted everything. The best way to ensure top and bottom plates remain consistent when they are cut is to layout everything on the ground first. Snapping chalk lines is just the start. Add header measurements, door openings and angles to the floor layout. This way you can place the top and bottom plates against the floor layout to make sure you have accurate cuts every time.

Look Up

Quadruple Studs and One Extra to Keep it all on Layout

Quadruple Studs and One Extra to Keep it all on Layout

While interior walls usually don’t do much but look pretty, bearing walls hold all of the weight of the roof. And more often than not, the layout under these extra important walls gets off somehow. One of the easiest ways to keep a good layout is to just copy the truss/joists/rafters from up above. Wherever a rafter bears onto a wall, you’ll need a stud directly underneath. Where hips, girders and other heavy duty trusses land, you’ll need to double or even triple up the studs to accept the load. Check with your local inspector or building code for specific requirements.

Stagger Those Seams

Top and bottom plates often have seams where two boards join together. And no matter how many nails you put into it, it’s going to be the weakest point in the wall. So how do you prevent these weak spots without buying a 30’ long 2×4? You simply stagger the seams. Be sure that you keep the top plate seam as far away from the bottom plate seam as possible to prevent weak spots in your wall framing.

Sandwiched Walls

Framing a Door OpeningLet’s say you’re building a house that’s rectangular in shape. Two of those walls are going to be long and two of them are going to be sandwiched between the other two walls. But when you’re covering those walls with a plywood exterior, the layout needs to be adjusted to accommodate the extra 3 ½” that each wall adds – otherwise you’ll end up with a small 3 ½” rip on each side and the wall won’t be as structurally sound as it should be. Hang your tape over the edge of plates 3 ½” to get the right 16” on center layout.

Snow Load

Have you ever wondered what those little black diamonds are on your tape measure? Those are snow load layouts. They bring the conventional 24” rafter layout closer together for a stronger roof. By bringing the rafters closer together at 19 3/16” increments, you increase the strength of the roof enough to prevent snow from crashing through your roof, just like that insurance commercial guy “Mayhem”.

Good Looking Layout

While this isn’t exactly framing-related, it’s still worth mentioning. Some layouts don’t get hidden by drywall or plywood. For instance, spindles on a porch railing are visible forever. Since they need to be a maximum of four inches apart in most locales, it tends to make the layout look wonky once it fits between the support posts if the measurement isn’t an even number. And when measurements between support posts aren’t consistent, it can really make your layout look like a kid did the job. An instant cure for this dilemma is to start your layout from the center and layout the spindles towards each support post. This way, no matter what the measurement, you can be sure the layout looks smooth and consistent all the way around the porch. You’ll still want to verify where the spindles at the edge will wind up, since sometimes this approach can land a spindle too close to the end. If that’s the case, an offset, or narrowing the gaps slightly might be needed.

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