Like most small contractors, I often use my truck as an office.
Since dirty and disorganized isn't the image I want to project
to potential clients, I try to keep the interior tidy. It's a
constant battle, but I've made a couple of recent changes that
seem to be helping.
First, I bought a $70 Contractor Bench Seat Console (Automotive
Accessories Connection, 888/425-2885,
autoaccessconnect.stores.yahoo.net) and installed it between
the two seats (1). A wood shim underneath keeps it level so my
coffee doesn't spill. The console's cover opens toward the
dash, exposing a clipboard mounted on the underside; this is
where I keep the homemade form on which I record my daily
activities for billing and job-costing purposes. To the top of
the cover, I've taped a 5x7 pad for jotting notes during phone
Second, I made a plywood organizer — two shelves, about
18 inches wide and 12 inches deep — and placed it above
the console (2); it attaches to the back of the cab with
Velcro. In the bottom shelf I keep a street map and my
clipboard with job schedules; in the top one I store
miscellaneous paperwork to be filed, plus a package or two of
I also mounted a 400-watt inverter (Vector, 800/544-6986,
www.vectormfg.com) under the dash for
charging my cellphone, computer, and cameras (3). Above it I
keep a Norelco razor so I can give myself a quick shave before
Now, if I could just figure out how to swap my bench seat for a
Barcalounger, I'd be set.
Sonny Lykos owns Construction Solutions
Systems in Naples, Fla.
All-Weather Blueprintsby Jeremy Hess
After watching too many sets of plans get ruined by daily
job-site use, I resolved to find an affordable way to keep my
prints clean and in good shape throughout an entire
For my first attempt, I put each print between two
1/8-inch-thick pieces of Plexiglas screwed together with binder
posts purchased at a hardware store. This worked fine for
prints that hang on the wall or stay at the job at all times
— but lugging around two or three 18-by-24-inch Plexiglas
sandwiches proved to be annoying.
Next, I decided to try getting the plans laminated. It worked!
I no longer have to dive across the floor to save the prints
when it gets windy or starts to rain. I pay my local
office-supply store $4 a page to laminate 18x24 prints —
a price that compares favorably with the $4 per page the local
OfficeMax charges for duplicating.
I keep the laminated plans rolled up face out when they're in
storage, so they lie flat when they're unrolled. Spilled coffee
wipes right off. And they make nice placements at
The downside is that I can't make changes to the drawings. For
that, I keep another set rolled up in a protective cover, along
with any other rough sketches I may have made.
Jeremy Hess is a lead carpenter with
Heisey Construction in Elizabethtown, Pa.