If you’re thinking about getting into the construction industry, or like me, want to save money by doing some of your own work, then construction books are a great way to gain knowledge. Although I’m not in the construction field I have collected a few books over the years and they have been useful.
I used my “library” when I drew up the construction drawings that the contractor used to build our house and later, my wife and I designed and built a hot tub house. Both were possible because of the construction books that I had acquired over the years.
With that, GCLG presents 15 Essential Construction Books You Should Read. This collection covers fundamentals of construction, construction business management, construction project management, as well as other subjects to help you venture into the world of construction, as a business or for your own needs.
I know how to use Google, why should I read books?
Although there is so much content online, there’s nothing like having a good reference library that you can turn to when the power is out. Heck, you can even haul a book or two to your construction site and never worry about the batteries running out. Sometimes printed text just can’t be beat.
Internet sources are great, but not always thorough. Books are generally written at greater length than online articles, so there’s more in-depth material to refer to. In addition, most books are written by folks with experience, sharing what they have learned over the years.
This knowledge can help you manage your construction business, or personal projects, more efficiently. It’s rough when you’re in the middle of something and become stalled because of the lack of some simple details. Having the right reference that you can pull out will help prevent that from happening.
Although there is a cost when buying books, most are not outrageous in price and should be looked at as investments. Think of it as going to school, without paying high-priced tuition. Another bonus, most books are timeless. Construction techniques and management practices have remained fairly consistent over the years. Books will provide enough useful information to pay for themselves, so you won’t go wrong in the investment.
Now, grab your favorite beverage and spend a bit of time looking over these books. We’re sure you’ll find them helpful.
Here are the best construction books that are a must-read
1. Construction Business Management: What Every Construction Contractor, Builder & Subcontractor Needs to Know by Nick Ganaway
Written by a veteran of 25 years in the business, this is a no-nonsense book that provides excellent information.
Ganaway’s book covers essentials such as the ins and outs of contracts, how to ensure that you are payed what you are owed, mechanics’ liens, administrative tasks that must be completed before breaking ground, effective marketing, licensing and registration, as well as much more. You’ll gain a ton of insight from Ganaway’s book.
To be successful one must make a profit and Stone’s book provides information to help you do just that.
You’ll learn how to bid jobs so that you’ll cover your material, overhead and labor expenses, as well as making a profit.
Isn’t that what you’re looking to do? In addition to the information provided, Stone also provides bonuses in the form of links to download forms and checklists presented in the book.
David Gerstel’s experience proves that you don’t need an MBA to have a productive construction business and his book will help you do the same.
Want to know how to round up business, pick the appropriate jobs to bid, estimate accurately and efficiently, as well as write contracts that are strong and fitting for your jobs? Gerstel’s book will teach you that.
You’ll also learn how to organize your books, purchase the right insurance, in addition to hiring and managing crews and maintaining safe work sites.
4. Starting Your Career as a Contractor: How to Build and Run a Construction Business by Claudiu Fatu
Another veteran of the construction industry, Fatu provides real world information in his book. In reading you’ll learn how to develop your business structure, what you need in insurance for your company, how to brand your company, dealing with legal and accounting hurdles, as well as managing employees and working with clients.
You’ll also learn how to estimate and bid on jobs, ensuring that you’ll cover all your expenses as well as make a profit. Fatu also covers planning for retirement and other aspects of being self-employed, which is not usually included in books such as this.
Used as a textbook by many students of architecture, engineering, and construction technology this book is a go to. Allen’s book covers construction materials and methods, focusing on common methods of construction including wood frame systems, masonry techniques, steel frame systems, and reinforced concrete.
Not just text, Allen’s book also includes helpful drawings, details, diagrams, and photos. This will be a useful resource that you can turn to time and time again.
6. Building Construction: Project Management, Construction Administration, Drawings, Specs, Detailing Tips, Schedules, Checklists, and Secrets Others Don’t Tell You: Architectural Practice Simplified, 2E by Gang Chen
Chen’s book is an indispensable reference book for contractors, construction managers, designers, developers, and even those interested in DIY construction projects.
Written by a veteran of over 20 years in construction, Chen provides insight into developing your business, working with governmental agencies, how to make your business safe and profitable, coordinating and working with subcontractors, managing your workload, developing work logs and checklists to facilitate your business, and much more.
7. Construction Leadership Success: The Construction Foreman’s Definitive Guide for Running Safe, Efficient, and Profitable Projects by Jason C McCarty
For any business to succeed the person in charge needs to be an effective leader. McCarty’s book is important to include in this list, as it focuses on more than just the nuts and bolts of construction.
You want to be an effective leader, right? This is the book for you. McCarty’s book includes sound advice covering the fundamentals of construction leadership. He explains how to build trust, credibility, and respect, all beneficial to any business, but from the viewpoint of construction management, which makes this book unique.
8. Construction Management JumpStart: The Best First Step Toward a Career in Construction Management by Barbara J. Jackson
We weren’t content to provide just one book that focuses on the management side of construction, so here’s another great resource. Jackson also has 20+ years in construction, so the information he provides is proven in the field.
This great resource also includes coverage on what it takes to be successful in construction management, choosing competent workers, ensuring work site safety, managing projects to ensure timely completion, within the budget and resulting in profit, understanding Building Information Modeling (BIM), and much more. This is also another great choice for reference.
Reid is also a veteran of the construction industry and his book provides proven information as do the others in this list. If you want to avoid the “Contractor Death Spiral,” then this book has information that is important for all in the construction industry.
Although Reid’s company focuses on residential repainting, he has background to back up his writing. Reid covers Branding your business, not often discussed in books such as this. Reid also provides a worksheet to help you in your branding process. In addition Reid’s book covers time management, customer and employee relationships, as well as expense management and much more.
As the title implies, this book is about project management, which is crucial to timely completion of profitable projects. Oberlander teaches from his experience in working with hundreds of project managers, in helping them be successful.
Oberlender’s book covers project quality, parametric estimating and the importance of accurate estimates, phases of construction from the start to completing the “punch list,” working with construction teams and subcontractors, risk management, construction management skills, and much more. This is another top pick for your library.
Construction projects requires the scheduling of many different aspects of a project. There’s design work, permits to be pulled, materials to be delivered when needed, workers to be on the job, subcontractors to complete their tasks, and more, all necessary for the successful completion of a project.
Mubarak not only provides info on a vast array of topics but also shares information on software that can make your life as a contractor easier. Through Mubarak’s writings, you’ll learn about scheduling that is direct, but also flexible enough to allow for delays and changes, all common in the construction industry, as well as how to deal with those and be successful.
This is another great read if your considering the field of construction, or doing your own subcontracting. Although it’s aimed at construction professionals and those studying construction project management, it is also useful for those looking at DIY construction projects.
Netscher, another veteran of the industry, provides insight into project planning, scheduling, worker and client relationships, material selection and acquisition, scheduling subcontractors, the financial aspects of the business, and more. His book is broken into multiple sections and highlights what not to do to avoid mistakes and delays.
Running any sort of business takes time and sometimes there doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day. Stevens provides information that will help streamline your contracting business, by breaking things down into three key elements- acquiring work, doing the work, and keeping track. Stevens doesn’t leave it that simple.
On the contrary, he provides detailed information on bidding; tracking progress; working with clients, employees, and subcontractors; changes in contracting over the past 3 decades; fast track scheduling; negotiating; ethics in the industry; and
more. This is another great resource for anyone in or considering entering the field of construction.
14. Financial Management and Accounting Fundamentals for Construction by Daniel W. Halpin and Bolivar A. Senior
Halpin’s book is a bit different from the others in that he focuses on management and finances in the construction industry. After all, the purpose of running a construction or contracting business is to be successfully profitable.
Halpin clarifies financial reports, how much cash must be available for a subcontractor to complete his job, why early payment of supplier invoices is financially sound practice, dealing with taxes, controlling project costs, as well as sources for capital expansion funds. The financial concepts are easily and clearly explained with numerous examples and their solutions.
15. Managing the Profitable Construction Business: The Contractor’s Guide to Success and Survival Strategies by Thomas C. Schleifer
This book is written by a team lead by Schleifer, who are known as “turnaround” experts, for helping a number of construction companies from financial distress.
This is another book that does not focus on the “nuts and bolts” of construction, but instead the financial and management aspects. From it you will learn about the importance of credit, layers of management, volume vs profit, employee benefits and compensation, debt, business planning, assets, and liabilities, estimating profit, over and under-billing, cost control, tracking costs and more. For the person who’s really interested in the money aspect of construction and contracting businesses, this book is well worth the cost.
There you go. That’s 15 books on construction that are chock full of information on various topics that should help move into the field of construction, or if you just want to do some on your own.
So, what do you think? Was this information useful to you? I hope so, as it’s GCLG’s goal to provide the best information on the field of construction and general contracting and these books are great resources.
With that, please leave a comment on the article and definitely share it with others if you found it useful.