Doing It Yourself
by Edouard A. Szajna

Part 2 - Tools of the Trade

“Do not hire a man who does your work for money, but him who does it for love of it.”
– Henry David Thoreau

In the first part of his DIY series, Ed spoke of assessing your abilities to take on your own construction project, in this installment, he addresses his recommendations for the tools that you'll need to bring along during the site inspection phase.

To do your own initial site inspection you’ll only need a few simple and common tools. In fact, you probably own most of them already (if not, we do offer a great selection of what you’ll need at really good prices).

To do your initial inspection you’ll need to bring with you:

  • A Camera – Preferably digital with a large-capacity memory stick or card -since they usually allow you to take a lot of photographs without having to put up with the expense of developing. Make sure to take a lot of photos, you can always delete them later.
    Besides, not having to go back to verify details is a good thing.

  • An 8’ step ladder  - Preferably wood - During your inspection you're probably going to need to move a few ceiling tiles to inspect the condition of the roof
    structure and duct work, bringing one along insures that you don’t miss identifying a potential problem. Of course if your space is new or recent construction, you may not need to bring one along.

  • A quality flashlight – Although you might be able to get away with something small and
    lightweight, we have always found that the sturdy metal variety that uses four “D" batteries
    works best for us. The beam shines brighter and further than their lightweight counterparts,
    besides…you’ll look really cool carrying it around.

  • A tape measure - If you’re inspecting open space or raw land, a wheeled measure works
    best because all you have to do is reset the counter to zero and walk from point to point.
    Laser Measures are great for enclosed spaces without a lot of partitions but in either case, you should also bring a standard 25’ or 30’ tape measure to help determine the diameter of water lines and sizes of other features that are kind of difficult to measure otherwise.

  • Graph Paper - for sketching out the space as you measure it. Although we carry some really good choices in our store, why not try and save a few bucks and download a free copy here . That way you can print out as much as you want. Want more choices? Visit the folks
    over at and check out their Graph Paper Generator.

  • A clipboard to allow you a stable writing space.

  • A Marble Composition Book

Although an architect or professional engineer will have many more task-specific tools at their disposal (for testing the HVAC system's airflow, verifying water pressure, etc.), the purpose of your initial inspection is to get an understanding of the general condition of the space so you can get to work on your Construction Budget.

Of course, if your requirement is going to entail the addition of machines or equipment, or you plan on significant changes to the structure of the building, you’ll want to have professionals do the final tests and measurements so you'll comply with construction and safety codes and your building plans can be drawn.

NEXT in Doing It Yourself

Part 3 -Measuring the space

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