Some of Our Personal Recommendations for Forums and Web Sites out on the Web for Builders & Remodelers
I’m a big fan of the BreakTime, the FineHomeBuilding magazine web forum and Knots the web forum for FineWoodworking magazine that are part of the Taunton Press site (www.taunton.com). From the Forums there you can easily “click” up a level to the Magazine, Book, and VideoTape sections of their site and search their vast library of publications for information too. The forums there are blazing fast compared to the old system they once had and once you get the hang of it they are extremely fast to navigate through too and find what you are looking for. You can include pictures in your posts and the ability to use HTML in you posts is well supported.
Journal of Light Construction. I’m a JLC-Online Plus subscriber and I find access to the magazines content is an incredibly great and valuable tool. Being able to search the old issues of JLC back to 1986 is probably the best dollar value you can spend on any building and remodeling information resource ( and I would think that is probably also true for the Taunton CDs covering FHB & FWW which I haven’t sprung for yet since I have 90% of all the issues of FHB and FWW in my library already but I will soon). The forums there are good for their content but the engine and format they is archaic, slow and very hard to search. While I’m a Mac guy I think Joe Stoddard’s Computer Solutions is awesome. And while we’re on it check out Joe Stoddard’s 90 TIPS IN 90 MINUTES. on his company’s MountainConsulting.com website. It’s 90 tips from one of his presentations at the Remodelers’ show in November of 2002. For all things Windows Joe is the man to talk too. Gary Katz’s Finish Carpentry Forum is also in that class. However my favorite places there are Bob Kovacs Estimating and Markup Forum. There are a bunch of other forums there too all worth a look.
The Housing Zone – After the JLC and Taunton sites I spend a lot of time looking through The Housing Zone which accompanies Professional Builder and Professional Remodeler magazines. A lot of great building and remodeling news type articles there in addition to some great business tools I subscribe to both their remodeling and building weekly e-mail newsletters so that keeps me up to date
on what new there.
ToolBase Services (ToolBase.org)
– “a service of the NAHB Research Center , funded by private industry and HUD through the Partnership for Advancing Technology in Housing (PATH) program.” A great compilation of research and articles on a wide variety of subjects covering the building and remodeling inudstries.
The Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University is another great source for research and articles effecting the building and remodeling industries. Most noticbly the State of the Nations Housing Report 2003 (a PDF) came out back in June of ’03 and earlier this same year Measuring the Benefits of Home Remodeling 2003 appeared. There are also other research categories that the Center does reports on too that might be helpful such as: Community Development, Finance, Government Programs, Homeownership, Industry Studies, International, Markets, Remodeling, and Seniors.
WoodWeb -There are a bunch of great forums over on WoodWeb along with a pile of information in what they call their KnowledgeBase and it’s all searchable. There are forums there for Adhesives, Architectural Woodworking, Business and Management, Cabinet and Millwork Installation, Cabinetmaking, CAD, CNC, Dust Collection, Safety Equipment, and Plant Operation, Professional Finishing, Forestry, Professional Furniture Making, Laminating and Solid Surfacing, Sawing and Drying, Solid Wood Machining, Value Added Wood Processing Forum, and Veneers. The topics there get pretty industry, craft, and technique specific but if that’s what you need it’s a great place. It’s also a great place to go to start to find industrial woodworking machinery
Industrial Strength Woodworking – Loosely related to WoodWeb you’ll find Industrial Strength Woodworking which accompanies the publications Custom Woodworking Business and Wood and Wood Products magazines. I search the magazine articles there often and have found them to be very informative and helpful. They also have their own new set of forums but nothing really happens there.
QualifiedRemodeler.com – The website for Qualified Remodeler magazine. Good article content. Notably with Michael Gerber author of the E-Myth Contractor as one of their contributors.
Clem Lebine’s Traditional Building Magazine website – A great place to research the more classic and elegant building materials and techniques that can realy set you building and/or remodeling efforts apart from the crowd.
Contractor Magazine -While the concentration and interests in my company is in architectural woodwork and metals and I have little understanding or knowledge of HVAC I read Contractor Magazine- The Newsmagazine Of Mechanical Contracting and visit their site pretty often. I like to read the columnists there especially on business and management. I think good business and management advice is good business and management advice no matter where you read it.
Electrical Contractor Magazine -Ditto my feelings for Electrical Contractor magazine.
Painting and Wallcovering Contractor Magazine – Painting and Wallcovering Contractor Magazine has the Paintstore.com web site with a bunch of good articles to search through. They also have their own set of message boards at http://www.paintstore.com/board
The Painters Chatroom For painters there is also The Painters Chatroom which is really a set of DCForum message boards and not chat rooms as the name may imply.
MuralsPlus – And for decorative painters and muralist (I’m a mural painter so that why I’m interested in this one) there is Muralsplus “the ultimate resource for faux painting enthusiasts, muralists, stencilers and all decorative painters”. A good set of message boards there too.
Architosh is the leading Web portal for Macintosh-based CAD 3D and AEC professionals and students, serving more than 25,000 readers monthly in 70 countries worldwide.
Now how about Blogs! I like blogs. While my blog (Quietly Re-Thinking Out Loud) is the only one I know of specfically or more directly realted to regarding building and remodeling there are a other blogs I like usally regarding modern project management suchh as Frank Patrick’s Focused Performance Business Blog. I also like to read Hal Macomber’s blog on Reforming Project Management, Joe Ely’s (Director of Quality at FBi Buildings) Learning About Lean blog , Jack Vinsons Knowledge Jolt with Jack, and last but not least and certainly not the last blog I’ll be adding to this list there is management consultant & ex-baseball reporter Jeff Angus’ Management by Baseball.
While once again not specfically about building and remodeling I also recommend Frank Patrick’s FocusedPerformance.com site for for a modern view of project management (not just construction project management but project management in general) I spend a good bit of time reading the content here.
Some Free Online Business Cost Calculators: From the MrHVAC.com there is the Retail Price Calculator for Contractors and Business Owners’ Cost Calculator on the MasterPlumbers.com web site. And while not a calculator so to speak on the Certified Floorcovering Installers I found this PDF worksheet called USE THIS TO DETERMINE IF YOU ARE MAKING A“LIVING !”
While not construction and remodeling per se I like INC Magazine & FastCompany– For general reading about modern business ideas and issues I like Inc & Fast Company Magazines. A great sites for entrepreneurial businesses. Tons of information and business tools.
Winning Workplaces, a not-for-profit organization in Evanston, Ill., that helps small businesses adopt successful workforce practices,
BizSum.com (Free Book Summaries from BusinessSummaries.com) for checking out some very well written summaryies of contemporary business books.
Other Links found but not yet reviewed