Book Review – The Elements of Building—A Business Handbook for Residential Builders & Tradesmen

by Dan Taddei, MS.Ed, BCA

Helements of buildingave you been looking for a book that answers all those little questions that come up? I recently had the opportunity to read the book, The Elements of Building—a Business Handbook for Residential Builders & Tradesmen,  by Mark Q. Kerson and published by From The Ground Up Publishing.

The author states that this book is designed along the lines of The Elements of Style by Strunk & White and in this regard it hit its mark. The author takes the essences of running a remodeling, construction or home improvement/handyman business and compiles it into easy to access quick-to-read topics. This is not a book you would read cover to cover, it is one that you will keep by your side, and when a question was raised you would turn to the table of contents and quickly access the answer or at least get sage guidance to help you develop an answer that suits your business.

I found the section on Rules, Ethics & Opinions very refreshing. Certainly NARI Member contractors would see nothing new in this section, but the industry as a whole will be well served with it. The expanse of content in the book is far too vast to fully explore in this blog post, but I will name a few sections that most contractors would find useful.

Participants—This section provides insights into hiring and firing employees, working with subcontractors (trade contactors), selecting suppliers and working with clients.

Design-Build versus Design-Bid-Build—This section provides commentary and the advantages and disadvantage of both business types from both the contractor’s and client’s perspectives.

Key Elements—Addresses the essentials of estimating and bidding. This is a significant section with more than 50 pages dedicated to the topic. There is two passages that struck me as common sense, but most often overlooked. “Have someone check your estimate” and “Don’t create an estimate, then massage the numbers to lower the price.”

My space is limited so just let me say that if you are just starting out in business as a contractor, considering starting out on your own, or are a seasoned remodeler or builder, this book is a must have.

This book is available for purchase at or through Amazon.

About the author: Dan Taddei has been Director of Education & Certification at NARI since Dec. 2001. He has worked with committees to develop NARI’s Green Education Program and the Green Certified Professional (GCP) certification and the Universal Design Certified Professional (UDCP). Most recently, he worked to develop the Certified Remodeling Project Manager (CRPM) certification and prep course. Taddei is the staff liaison to the NARI Government Affairs Committee and since 2006 he has been NARI’s staff person monitoring all activities related to EPA’s RRP rule issues, including working with NARI members to develop input to the EPA. 

Before NARI, Taddei worked for Panasonic Factory Automation for five years as a technical trainer, course developer, and manager of field service engineer certifications.  Prior to Panasonic he served in the U.S. Navy, Submarine Force, for 27 years before retiring in 1996. He has a Bachelors of Science in Work Force Education (2000) and a Masters of Science in Education (2003) from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale.

One thought on “Book Review – The Elements of Building—A Business Handbook for Residential Builders & Tradesmen

  1. Pingback: Must-Have Book - 'The Elements of Building' - NARI NYC/LI

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