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Other stories by Sal Alfano

  • Business Forum: Measuring Success

    Use profit, not volume, to measure success

  • Q&A: Shingle Siding Layout

    Q: How do you lay out shingle siding so the courses break evenly above and below windows? And what’s the best way to secure the row of shingles below a window so the nails aren’t exposed?

  • Subs and Workers Comp -- Avoiding the Hidden Costs

    Builders everywhere are looking for ways to reduce their workers comp insurance premiums, which have more than doubled in recent years. Getting certificates of insurance from subs is a good place to start.

  • Unit-Price Estimating

    Stick-by-stick estimating takes forever, but quick square-foot takeoffs are not accurate. Somewhere in between lies unit-price estimating. Here’s a step-by-step guide to designing and using your own unit-price system.

  • Simple Specs for Small Jobs

    Writing a good set of specs is just as important as drawing the plans. Here’s how to organize your specs and what to include in them.

  • Builder's Library: Historic Preservation Briefs

  • Working Cost-Plus

    Cost-plus contracts can ensure a profitable job for builders who keep careful records and maintain good communication with their customers. Here are the contract provisions and cost-tracking systems that have worked for one builder.

  • Safer Garage Door Openers

    Because of past accidents, motorized openers are now subject to federal and state safety regs. Here’s what the contractor needs to know to avoid accidents and liability.

  • Builder's Library: Ten Threats to Success

  • Pop-Up Downdraft Vents

    This newest option in cooktop exhaust fans disappears into the countertop when not in use and provides venting where an overhead hood is not practical.