Anyone who has built a home or taken on a hefty home improvement project can tell you that there are lots of measurements, calculations, and costs to keep track of. Even for seasoned DIYers, it can be overwhelming.
Enter the construction calculator
. This handy device -- available in handheld units, iPhone apps, and web-based apps -- makes short work of the dizzying array of computations common to the construction industry. Figuring board/feet, fractions,slopes, and converting feet to inches or metric can be challenging on common or scientific calculators, but a construction calculator handles all of this with ease. It's built for the job.
There are tons of handheld construction calculators, but one of the best is the Construction Master Pro
from Calculated Industries. This little jewel handles weight/volume unit conversions, figures rafter angles, trig functions and much more. Riser calculations, among construction's biggest brain stumpers, are done with precision and accuracy in nanoseconds. The time savings alone will pay for the unit -- not to mention free you from ineffective "guesstimates."
Then there are the web-based calculators. Construction Advantage Calculator 2.0
from Formative Software has a couple of advantages over the handhelds. It will remember your last twenty calculations, so if you need to re-figure based on a changes in measurements or cost, the figures are close at hand. Web-based models also allow you to print your calculations for future review. The Advantage Calculator does a great job with estimating cubic yards of cement, primer, plywood, wallpaper and more.
For gadget-savvy DIYers, there's a slew of construction calculator apps, including inchCALC
, Builders Construction
, and Carpenter's Helper
, that let you do lumber conversions and figure grout quantities right on your beloved iPhone.
Some free online resources even come specialized for specific types of projects. Blocklayer.com
has a directory of online calculators for figuring hip and gable roofs, stair risers and stringers, gazebos, decks and more. Calculatorsedge.com
has a series of trade specific calculators covering fields such as structural, electrical and mechanical. Griffithplans.com
also has some interesting Excel-based calculators including one for figuring the wind loading.
As they say in the business, "Always use the right tool for the job."