Questions About AFCI Rules
While I am in total support of sound building practices, the
article "Expanded AFCI Requirements Spark Controversy" (In the
News, 9/07) raises issues that are somewhat hypothetical and
exaggerated. What I do not support is the use of our building
codes as a conduit for sales. (The easiest way to get a product
into the market place is to have it required.)
The idea of a company promoting its product through the design
community or code review panels is nothing new. According to
some building officials and designers I've spoken to, this is
becoming more the norm. But how will housing ever be affordable
if we continue to raise its price with new code
Arizona Image Homes
Looking for Mac Estimator
I am a partner in a small construction business. I've just
switched from a PC to a MacBook Pro and am looking for an
estimating program that will run native on a Mac machine. The
answer I get most often is to run Windows on my Mac, then
select the program I want, but this seems like a hassle. I
appreciate any help you can give.
Blue Lake Builders
Blue Lake, Calif.
Joe Stoddard, moderator of the JLC Online computer forum,
responds: I am always reluctant to make specific software
recommendations without knowing specific needs. My general
advice, though, is always the same: Do a top-down software
evaluation. You can't determine the "how" — the software
strategy — before you know the "why" and "what" —
the objective you're trying to accomplish.
When you say "estimating," remember that the devil is in the
details: It can mean anything from simple lump-sum presales
estimates to detailed line-item estimates that break out to a
bill of materials.
You don't necessarily have to run Windows on your Mac,
although that is the path of least resistance if you're looking
for a Windows-like estimator. And you'll definitely find more
dedicated estimating software for the Windows platform. That
said, there are a few dedicated Mac estimating options.
Many Mac users have had success using the simplest approach:
spreadsheets. There are at least three viable Mac spreadsheets
that can be used for cost estimating.
Apple's new $80 productivity suite, iWork, includes a
spreadsheet application called Numbers that you could use to
create construction estimates.
NeoOffice, the Mac version of the open-source OpenOffice
suite, includes a powerful spreadsheet application, and the
price is right: It's free (www.neooffice.org).
Finally, the Mac version of Excel works pretty much like its
PC counterpart, and the basic .xls file can be opened on either
PCs or Macs. With Office 2008 for Mac right around the corner,
cross-platform Excel files should get even easier.
Another option is programs based on FileMaker, a
cross-platform database that developers use to build all kinds
of Mac and PC applications. Because of the way FileMaker works,
these applications tend to be all-in-one suites. Among the
FileMaker-based Mac suites with integrated estimators are the
360 Difference Estimating version 2
(www.360difference.com), JobPro Central's
suite (www.jobprocentral.com), and Eclectus' CMIS
Finally, Goldenseal has a unit-cost, assembly-based (vs.
line-item) estimator built into its small business suite, an
integrated product aimed at small-volume builders and
remodelers. Goldenseal is available with ($695) or without
($395) an accounting module for both Mac and PC users
In the article "Roof Ventilation Update" (10/07), labels for
two of the lines in the graph showing roof sheathing
temperatures appear to be switched. The graph shows the
temperature for "vented, white" as being higher than for
"vented, dark." My experience with white roofs vs. dark roofs
tells me this is impossible.
You're right. Thanks for pointing out the error. Here's the
corrected graph. — The Editors
I was "floored" by the recommendations for fastening
underlayment to the subfloor (Q&A, 9/07). I've been
installing underlayment for about 50 years, in several thousand
kitchens and baths, but I would never use nails of any kind to
fasten underlayment to the subfloor. The No. 1 reason for using
underlayment in the first place is to prevent the nail heads in
the subfloor from popping up and damaging the flooring. If that
weren't the case, then I could just use
plugged-and-touch-sanded plywood subflooring in the areas that
receive sheet flooring.
Lots of arguments can be made for why the nail heads pop up,
but the main cause is shrinkage in the floor joists, both as
they dry after installation and with seasonal changes in
moisture content (meaning the shrinkage can never be completely
I've always fastened underlayment to the subfloor with
divergent-point staples — 2 inches on-center on the edges
and 4 inches on-center in the field — and I've never had
a failure. I was taught this method by a journeymen carpenter;
in those days, the staple gun had not even been invented, so we
stapled with a mallet-powered stapler. Most of the subflooring
was "recycled" 1x6 form boards — "green," way back