Action can give us a feeling of being useful, but only words can give us a sense of weight and purpose. -Eric Hoffer


7.1. Create a “Cardboard Box File” by purchasing a cardboard “banker’s box” approximately 12”x16”. Place 50, letter-size, hanging files into the banker’s box. Insert 50, 1/3-cut file folders inside the hanging files. Label the tabs according to each phase of the building process-there’ll be extra files and you’ll definitely use them! Become accustom to filing information as you develop your project. Review Hrin’s Daily Field Guide: A Logbook for Home Builders.


7.2. Elaborate the "Cardboard Box Files" with contractor and product information. By filing trade and product literature in respective categories, you begin to gather an array of possibilities for future use. Be sure to note a contact person and phone number or email address from the businesses with whom you come into contact. One decent contact leads to another contact, and becomes a network of individuals and organizations! Page through Ching's Building Construction Illustrated.


7.3. Continue to use the "Cardboard Box Files" as a means to organize trade and product technical literature. More than likely you'll be creating additional hanging files to expand the growing information base. Get comfortable with the process of progressive approximation so you feel relaxed about a gradual refinement of product and material choices. Now is the time to collaborate with the professionals of your project team as well as potential trade contractors and suppliers, discussing the range of choices available to you. Don’t become the customer-from-hell! Read Edwards’ Dangerous Clients: How to Protect Yourself.


7.4. Increase what you know about products and materials required for your project by adding to the "Cardboard Box Files." This will be a storehouse for manufacturer specifications, installation instructions, material safety data sheets, guarantees, and warranties for each respective phase of work. Add extra categories to your filing system rather than accumulate thick files chock-full of details. Checkout Rosen's Construction Specification Writing or Stitt’s Construction Specs.


7.5. Perform "Quality Control" inspections daily and weekly. Check work performed against Drawings and Specifications, as well as your agreed on Conditions with contractors and suppliers. Use the "Cardboard Box Files" to confirm your understanding of manufacturer guidelines for product installation. Installation instructions are a starting point for field inspections but they are not a substitute for good observation and critical thinking! Use a video recorder and still-camera to improve reliable documentation. Heed the sage tips in Thomas’ Contractor’s Field Guide.


7.6. Regard your "Cardboard Box Files." as worth its weight in gold! No doubt, these files have proven to be a ready reference for "Quality Control" activities, but as a repository for all project information, the "Box" becomes a valuable resource for yourself or the next homeowner. Needless to say, your "Cardboard Box Files" are impossible to replace!


7.7. Share your information base for your project with a friend or neighbor doing a home building or remodeling project. Don’t give-away original documents, but make copies for others.



OBS NewsSpecifications are the written instructions of how residential construction will be performed and the type of materials to be used in your home.

How will you describe what products or methods will be used for your home building project?

Read 20 pages of "Sample Specifications" in order to construct a typical residential construction project. Program planning is central to the success of your home building project.

Information Resources

Some valuable resources for decision making are the numerous trade, professional, and consumer organizations that establish construction standards and will provide product specifications or installation information to the general public as well as their membership.


Ching, Francis. Building Construction Illustrated.
New York: Van Nostrand, 1991, 2000 3rd.

Edwards, Susan. Dangerous Clients: How to Protect Yourself.
San Francisco: Miller Freeman, 1998.

Hrin, Tom. Daily Field Guide: A Logbook for Home Builders.
D.C.: Home Builder Press, 1997, 2000 2nd.

Rosen, Harold. Construction Specification Writing.
New York: Wiley, 1974, 1998 4th.

Stitt, Fred. Construction Specs.
New York: McGraw-Hill, 1999.

Thomas, Paul. Contractor’s Field Guide.
Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall, 1995.


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