8 new things every contractor should know about

Drive-thru:

  • Laser measuring systems and well-designed, state-of-the-art tools will surprise you with their speed and accuracy.
  • You can boost sales by using manufacturers’ tools that accelerate your estimates and show customers what things will look like when you’ve finished the job.
  • As severe weather events increase, you can build in resilience and safety with specialty materials.

From across the construction supplier spectrum, here is a sampling of new items that will help to increase sales, provide safer results, improve project resiliency, and help you work quicker and more accurately.

1. A different take on measuring

The 3Dazer Laser and its Project Management App works as more than just a measuring device. Allowing you to measure distances up to 260 feet on both Android and iPhone within one-sixteenth of an inch, the components of this combo work independently or together. Attach the measuring device to your phone, or use it unattached, to take field measurements. Use the app to sketch a floor plan, name the project, add client info, add photos or voice memos, and insert dimensions using the laser measurer.

2. AI for cabinets

Cowry Cabinets offers an app that users can use to “shop for, design and purchase a kitchen, all through one easy-to-use, smart AI platform.” Positioned for home renovation contractors and homeowners, this app offers tools you can use to design kitchens and then select and order the cabinets. Once you do the layout, you enter the dimensions, select your cabinet and hardware, and place your order. This app uses cloud-based intelligent design software—making it an instant datum and artificial intelligence leap for a small construction business.

3. Extreme weather windows

A new window line from PGT Innovations puts impact-resistant windows within reach of anybody looking for storm protection. Called Sparta, the manufacturer claims the windows provide all the protection you need from storms. Forget about buttoning up with plywood and storm shutters to prepare for extreme weather events. The glass resists pressures from +55 to -65 pounds per square foot. Powder coat paint, stainless assembly screws, and hardware that resists corrosion round out the Sparta advantages.

4. Put drywall waste to use

This is one to keep an eye on. With drywall waste accounting for about half of all construction waste, the nation’s landfills are becoming a toxic problem. Bacteria in landfill soils break down the gypsum, which would be great if it weren’t for noxious gas released in the process. Washington State University professors and researchers have created a new building brick that recycles discarded drywall. While the blocks are similar to adobe or compressed earth, they offer greater insulation value, says David Drake, adjunct faculty in the School of Design and Construction. Tests are ongoing to confirm qualities that affect building, fire, and seismic codes. Next comes a 160-square-foot demo structure.

5. Make your project movie

All those job-site photos can help you market your construction services. However, putting them together in a presentable little package takes a lot of time and effort. That’s no longer the case. TrueLook’s app includes a tool for automatically creating custom time lapse videos. You set the options and filters, and the app will do the rest. You can set it to filter out bad weather and weekends. You can also choose to have a series of photos taken at the same time each day so that you control the lighting. The Truelook app will then create a stylized time-lapse production including a title card, pan effects, zoom effects, fading and music. Turn your videos loose on social media, your website, blogs, or wherever you’d like to highlight your work.

6. Put fire resistance in your joists

Joists made with dimensional lumber have typically had better fire resistance than manufactured joists. Now, though, you can get the equivalent ASTM E119 fire rating in an I-joist. The Boise Cascade AJS 24 FMJ I-joist includes foil-faced insulation board on the webs so it passes the ASTM E119 fire test. These I-joists remain lighter than dimensional joists, span greater distances, and offer wider nailing surfaces. You can also cut holes for plumbing and electrical runs, according to the same specifications for regular I-joists. The manufacturer says their qualities make them “a safer solution for the floor above a basement.”

7. Control your cut off

Every self-respecting builder needs a new tool every now and then, so Milwaukee has stepped up with its M12 FUEL 3″ Compact Cut Off Tool. You can cut metal, drywall, cement board and even tile with an ergonomic flair. The tool is designed for one-handed use, and it provides a clear view of the blade so you can control the cut with more precision. The company claims you can cut 12 inches of 26-gauge metal in less than 10 seconds. The tool is powered by a lithium battery, and you can run the blade in reverse to match the material and to control where you eject debris.

8. Color your customers’ worlds

Use your smartphone camera and the Sherwin Williams’ app to identify walls in a space. Then, tap on any wall to “try on and see” how any of Sherwin-Williams’ 1,500 colors would look in that space. You can try mixing and matching to get the perfect look. Once you discover color schemes you’d like to use on other projects, you can create custom palettes. You’ll be able to quickly show your customers how their spaces will look with the chosen colors and take the guesswork out of client selections. Augmented reality never looked so colorful.

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