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The best practices in residential building construction, tips, tricks, procedures which make the difference between an average or even a problem building and a good building which works well and is a pleasure to occupy, are collected and described in Steve Bliss's book which is reviewed and described here. This article includes excerpts or adaptations from Best Practices Guide to Residential Construction, by Steven Bliss, courtesy of Wiley & Sons. This article and this website both include excerpts or adaptations from Best Practices Guide to Residential Construction, by Steven Bliss, courtesy of Wiley & Sons.
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Book review by Daniel Friedman
Bernie Campbalik used to make a sucking noise through his teeth when he saw one of us do something sloppy on the jobsite or in his carpentry class. Bernie knew a lot about good construction practices, and he regularly pointed out that the foul-ups were often in the details. Mistakes or omissions led to trouble down the road. We were to avoid such goofs by recognizing them and fixing them on the job. But beyond that sucking noise that we heard a bit more than we wanted to, we remember Bernie's description of his own first days working as a carpenter's assistant.
"The foreman would choose an 18' 2x10, after eying several for straightness, cup, and bow. Then he would disappear around the corner of the building where we were working. He'd return in a few minutes with a pattern rafter and would hand it to me. 'Here, ...' he'd growl as he handed it over, 'dig into that pile over there and cut us 23 more like these.'"
The foreman didn't want Bernie to know how to layout a birds' mouth cut or plumb cut. That little extra knowledge was what he figured was his edge, the data that assured his job as site foreman.
And that has been a problem in construction. While most people who build do so out of a real love of the work, there is a tradition of "not sharing" the how-to details that make the difference between "good enough" and "good work." Unlike his foreman, Bernie actually wanted us to know how to do it right. Not because he particularly liked us, but because he loved the work and wanted that to be right.
Steve Bliss, with a combination of real-world on-the-job construction experience and a long career as a writer and editor for the Journal of Light Construction , Progressive Builder, and Solar Age has written a new book, Best Practices Guide to Residential Construction, Materials, Finishes, and Details, which is full of details and product choices that make the difference between "good enough" and "good work" - the stuff that all of us who build or have built homes wish we'd known sooner.
Best Practices has a simple organization. It’s easy to find details can help the success of your construction project. Here are a few examples:
I like this book and we recommend it. I'm lucky - I didn't have to pay for it. Mr. Bliss sent us a review copy, probably knowing that we hold him in high regard, but probably also slightly worried by knowing that we won't pull any punches on a review.
Best Practices Guide to Residential Construction well worth having, and it makes a good dent in the "secret pattern rafter layout" problem we mentioned above, by passing on many "best practice" details for residential construction. This website includes a number of articles and article series using excerpts or adaptations from Best Practices Guide to Residential Construction, by Steven Bliss, courtesy of Wiley & Sons.
To collect and pass on all of them would produce more pages than the Harvard Classics, and more books than Google has indexed (so far). The length of this book, 308 pages including a useful index, gives space for a well-worth-having collection of helpful details beyond the usual arm-waving that pollutes most professions and contaminates ours too. The book's strengths are the perspective and choice of details selected by a writer who has spent a lifetime of hands-on building, writing about, and finally editing about good construction practices.
Give Best Practices Guide to Residential Construction by Steven Bliss to your builder buddy and if someone doesn't give you a copy, buy your own. ISBN-10: 0-471-64836-1 (cloth) or ISBN-13: 978-0-471-64836-9, John Wiley & Sons, ( http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-0471648361.html)2005.
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