I’m a book collector.
My condo can barely fit the hundreds books that I’ve accumulated over the past decade. What’s worse is that I’ve probably only read half of them. The unread bit of my collection is an amalgam of gifts, ill-advised impulse buys, and rare books that I hope to resell on eBay for a profit.
At any rate, as a software reviewer, content marketer, and construction enthusiast, I have books dedicated to each interest. Some of them I bought because of hype, some on reputation, and others as an impulse buy.
Over time, I’ve accumulated quite the collection.
But I certainly don’t own all the books one might want on construction management. I don’t even own a quarter of them.
Curious, I started to scour through available books on construction. I soon found that, that while there were plenty of construction management books available and rated online (on places like Goodreads and Amazon), few book nerds had taken the time to compile a true “best of” list for dedicated construction managers.
That’s something I can’t stand for.
So the hunt began. I filtered through construction management books and found the ones that stood out in reviews, were featured on multiple “favorites” lists, and that were frequently referenced because of their stellar reputations.
From there, this list emerged.
Yes, all 36 books. I’m sure that eventually more will be added.
Below, I’ve listed out each book’s title, a brief summary, and a standout review.
1. A Builder’s Guide to Accounting by Michael Thomsett
This book is a great little primer for new construction businesses looking to set up and streamline their accounting solutions.
Standout review: I think this book would be very helpful for those small to medium builders who have not come up with an accounting system, or need to improve it. It deals with many different topics of which builders need to be aware. In some cases, the book seems very elementary in its accounting terminology, then becomes technical in other cases. Some builders would not be able to follow the terminology in this book. I read this book from the perspective of an accounting professional who needed some basics in building accounting. There were some chapters that were very helpful for me, but others that dealt with such basic accounting, that I lost interest. However, this book is geared toward the builder, and I think it achieves its purpose.
2. Architectural Graphic Standards by Harold Sleeper, John Ray Hoke, Charles G. Ramsey
From building standards and practices to classroom projects, this textbook is a must-have for the construction manager in training.
Standout review: I was introduced to the AGS very early in my career in construction. But I never had one of my own. Hard cover editions cost over $500. This soft cover edition fills the void very nicely. The graphics are just like what I became used to over the years and It’s just a lot of fun to browse cover to cover and experience the wealth of information and data available therein.
3. Building Codes Illustrated: A Guide to Understanding the 2015 International Building Code by Francis D. K. Ching and Steven R. Winkel
Ever wonder how the International Building Code (IBC) came to be? Want a guide to interpreting building codes? Check out this classic by Francis Ching and Steven Winkel
Standout review: Great resources, but don’t rely on this book solely. Great resources when accompanied by the code books.
4. Building Construction: Project Management, Construction Administration, Drawings, Specs, Detailing Tips, Schedules, Checklists and Secrets Others Donʹt Tell You by Gang Chen
This guide is for everyone in construction, from architectural students to project managers to superintendents. It covers the entirety of the construction business, including how to start a construction company, keep it running smoothly, and work with contractors.
Standout review: This book by Gang Chen should be on the desk and/or shelf of every architectural office as this book serves not only as a primer for the architectural profession but also and more importantly as a checklist that when followed will result in a job that proceeds in good order without either time or money wasted. The management principles and procedures described are critical to the success of a project. The projects that were failures that I was required to contend with failed to follow the steps this book outlines and then goes on to describe.
5. Code Check Complete: An Illustrated Guide to the Building, Plumbing, Mechanical, and Electrical Codes by Redwood Kardon, Douglas Hansen, and Paddy Morrissey
Code Check provides a no-nonsense approach to building, electrical, mechanical, and plumbing codes. Want something simple and straightforward? This book should be your first choice.
Standout review: I am a home inspector and I needed a book that could easily carry with me when I go to inspect a house. This is just the book that I needed. All inspectors know that they can’t remember all the codes, so this book helps.
6. Construction Business Management: What Every Construction Contractor, Builder & Subcontractor Needs to Know by Nick Ganaway
When you have 25 years of construction business experience, you’ll have accumulated a ton of helpful tips for people new to the industry. Nick B. Ganaway uses this book to impart his “lessons learned” to construction business owners and construction managers.
Standout review: This is the first straightforward, down-to-earth book on how to run a construction business that I have come across. A realistic account of what it takes to start an enterprise and what it’s like to be a contractor. Anyone contemplating starting their own construction company should read this before attempting it and every contractor already working at it should study Nick’s work to learn how to do it better and to realize that they are not alone when they discover just how challenging and difficult the struggle for success can be. Everyone associated with the construction industry should read this book to gain an understanding of how the business really works.
7. Construction Claims Manual for Residential Contractors by Jonathan F. Hutchings
Construction law can be incredibly complicated, especially when you’re working on someone’s home as opposed to an office building. When emotions run high from a change order or claim, use this book to figure out the next best step for your construction company.
Standout review: Provides residential builders and contractors with a broad practical application knowledge of change orders and construction claims, and an understanding of the business scope, meaning, defense, and differing applications of their use. Explains the role and responsibilities of parties involved in the construction contract process, describes the purposes of claims, and looks at related legal issues. Includes an appendix of contract standards.
8. Construction Contracting: A Practical Guide to Company Management by S. Keoki Sears and Richard H. Clough
Interested in commercial, heavy civil, high-tech, and industrial construction code and best practices? Sears and Clough’s guide has proven to be an industry standard resource for its in-depth explanation of best practices without all the construction jargon.
Standout review: This book is a legendary classic in the field of general construction and is a must for personnel involved in construction management, general contracting and professional consulting. It covers all aspects of construction from company organization, estimating, field procedures, cost control, changes, punchlist, claims, labor relations and safety. The appendix contains reference standard documents and contract boilerplate from the AIA, AGC and others. It would take 20 years of work in the construction field to obtain the knowledge that this book can help to provide. This text is a must for all construction professionals.
9. Construction Equipment and its Management by S.C. Sharma
Heavy equipment is difficult to maintain and manage. Luckily, S.C. Sharma knows how to keep your Caterpillars crawling and your Volvos running.
Standout review: Found on many “best of” construction book lists, though no available reviews.
10. Construction Leadership Success: The Construction Foreman’s Definitive Guide for Running Safe, Efficient, and Profitable Projects by Jason C. McCarty
Safety, efficiency, and production: these are the three things that every construction foreman should care about when approaching a new construction project. This book explains how to optimize each of these skills, both from a soft and technical perspective.
Standout review: This book is exactly what I was looking for: clear, concise and to the point. It goes right to the fundamentals of field leadership, organization, crew morale, efficiency, safety and productivity. Not only is this a great tool for a new foreman, it would be a useful supplement to experienced and established foremen as well. Non-foremen crew members could benefit from this as insight into what practices make you a more valuable employee to your foreman. I feel better equipped and more confident in my profession having read this book.
11. Construction Management JumpStart: The Best First Step Toward a Career in Construction Management by Barbara J. Jackson
If you’re in the process of studying to become a construction manager, definitely check out this book. This bestseller is considered a standard within the industry, providing the ultimate 101 on construction management.
Standout review: I’m using this book as the text resource for an introductory level course in Construction Management at a four-year accredited program in the Southeast. The students are responding favorably to the conversational style of the writing and the level of content in terms of depth. The book works equally well for both my more experienced students and the ones who are just getting their feet wet in the career field. If you’re looking for a great overview book on the construction industry this is a definite buy; if however you are looking for great depth on any one particular area of construction management you should probably look elsewhere.
12. Construction Planning, Equipment & Management by R.L. Peurifoy
Want to learn the fundamentals of using and caring for heavy equipment? Peurifoy, in his widely used book, explains not just how to use construction equipment correctly, but also how to best use each tool for each kind of project.
Standout review: Has great chapters about what is needed during big construction projects. Great review of equipment and how to cost construction projects.
13. Construction Project Management: A Complete Introduction by Alison Dykstra
You don’t get a much more concise title than this book sports: Dykstra’s book covers the basics of project management in this classic construction management book.
Standout review: I have been teaching construction-related courses at a California Junior College for the past 5 years and have 20 years experience managing construction projects. I am a licensed general contractor and an urban planning consultant. This is the most clearly written, comprehensive and well-organized textbook on the construction management process I have seen to date. It has filled in gaps in my knowledge.
14. Construction Project Management by Neeraj Kumar Jha
This book not only covers construction project management processes, but also common construction management software, like Primavera and Microsoft Project. Readers should note that, while it’s still applicable to the U.S. construction industry, this book is focused on construction in India.
Standout review: One of very few textbooks cum reference books on subject of Construction Project Management. Especially it gives you the taste of Indian construction scenarios and practices. It converges both practical and theoretical aspects of the profession. It will only improve with editions. Suggestion for its publisher is to increase font size for improving convenience in reading.
Contracting is at the heart of the construction industry. This practical guide explains how practitioners can successfully navigate the “contract lifecycle” from bid to close.
Standout review: If you are involved in any way with putting deals together (e.g. negotiations, writing scopes or statements-of-work, drafting cover letters or executive summaries, writing specifications, project management, sales, reviewing terms and conditions, et al.), I highly recommend this book as a ‘must read’. Both buyers and sellers will benefit from this comprehensive and highly readable work.
16. Contractor’s Survival Guide by Jason Reid
Reid helps contractors in the home-renovation business find leads even in the toughest economic times.
Standout review: I’m a contractor that is always looking for effective and practical ways to build my business. This book is full of great ways to thrive – in any market.
17. Defensive Estimating: Protecting Your Profits by William Asdal
Estimating is often the most frustrating—and important—part of starting a job. Asdal guides construction managers and estimators through the process, guaranteeing a good deal both for the construction company and the client.
Standout review: It’s happened before – a builder puts out an estimate to add a new addition to a home. The buyer agrees, and the builder gets to work. The money set aside from the estimate drains quickly, and the builder soon is faced with either talking to the customer and telling him the estimate was wrong- making the builder seem like he’s greedy and potentially killing the chance of a return client – or sucking it up and taking the hit out of their money to keep the customer happy. “Defensive Estimating: Protecting Your Profits” is a guide to help residential builders and remodelers avoid this situation by being better at estimating their costs so it doesn’t eat into their profits and the customer remains happy. It contains tips on examining your business’s finances, on bewaring of carelessness, and defending your estimate to your customers. “Defensive Estimating: Protecting Your Profits” is highly recommended for community library collections on business with an especial recommendation to carpenters.
18. Energy Audits and Improvements for Commercial Buildings by Ian M. Shapiro
Audits are an unfortunate part of the construction business, particularly in commercial building. This book sets construction managers up for success, from practical advice to concrete checklists.
Standout review: Excellent reference book. Very thorough. Great content. Every Energy Consultant should have this book.
19. Fundamentals of Building Construction: Materials and Methods by Edward Allen and Joseph Iano
This bestselling construction reference book covers the nuances of building materials, from their effects on the environment to their code compliance.
Standout review: This book doesn’t pull any punches, covering all aspects of construction, from building sites to foundations to wood types to fasteners to framing, siding, windows, doors, concrete, masonry, glass, glazing, roof types, roofing and on and on and on. The authors aren’t just touching on these subjects, but delving deeply into each one. For example, with regard to roofing, they discuss roofing underlayment, eaves, rakes, roof drainage, overhangs, area dividers, low-slope roofs, steep roofs, cool roofs, roofing codes, etc. But they don’t just talk, they provide detailed cutaway views with dimensions, descriptions of what everything shown is and what it does. If you’re an architect, structural engineer, construction manager, builder or anyone technically curious enough to learn the details of construction materials and methods, then an investment in your own copy of this book would certainly be worthwhile.
20. Fundamentals of Concrete by A.M. Neville
Don’t let the title fool you: Neville’s work has been critically acclaimed since 1963. This regularly updated reference book details not only the practical information on how to best use concrete, but also how to engineer concrete to be one of the most practical building materials available.
Standout review: A great book, clear and easy to understand.
21. Fundamentals of Residential Construction by Edward Allen and Alexander Schreyer
Construction managers in residential building can use this guide to learn about and polish up on the best systems for house building and remodeling.
Standout review: If you are looking for some great outlines and understanding of building techniques; get this book! Filled with photos and drawings, it covers a lot of ground and gives the reader a good overview of the various systems employed to build housing across the nation. I appreciated the exposure to different techniques and details that I might not get to employ or encounter in my area.
22. Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In by Roger Fisher, William L. Ury and Bruce Patton
While not specifically a construction book, this business classic is a phenomenal guide for managers looking to get the most out of their building contracts.
Standout review: I first read this in 1983, when my husband was in his first year of law school. I’ve remembered over the years and tried to apply some of the principles that i learned in my personal and professional life. I recently attended some professional (non-legal) training, and one of the facilitators was a lawyer who led a discussion about how to negotiate when there is disagreement. As he spoke, I recognized the principles as the same ones I’d read in Getting to Yes so long ago. At the end of his presentation, he referred to this book. I decided to buy a new copy and read it again. It has been updated, and the new material is a great addition. Still a very handy tool for personal or professional negotiation.
23. Graphic Guide to Frame Construction (For Pros By Pros) by Rob Thallon
Thallon’s book is another classic. The Graphic Guide to Frame Construction is a “visual handbook” for residential construction managers who work and build with wood.
Standout review: Awesome book, great reference for architects students or anyone in the trade. I have many other books with some of these details but none have as many as this one. Easy to read and understand.
24. Green Construction: An Introduction to a Changing Industry by Alison Dykstra
While many books on this list are already considered “classics,” Dykstra’s new guidebook is sure to join the ranks—and quickly. LEED, green, and sustainable construction are some of the biggest trends in the industry, and Dykstra is quick to explain how construction managers can make the most of the push for environmentally friendly construction.
Standout review: This book is a much-needed treasure. Dykstra has managed to weave context, civics, and content of green construction into a single and accessible resource. The breadth and quality of the materials presented in this text is a testament to the author’s deep understanding of both the work at large and the needs of educators and practitioners alike to facilitate the responsible growth of the field. Interested in learning or teaching green construction? There’s finally a clear place to begin.
25. Health and Safety at Work: An Essential Guide for Managers by Jeremy Stranks
Quick to cut the jargon, this guide explains the practical and legal nuances of keeping contractors safe on site.
Standout review: While going into great detail on all the subject matter covered would take a work many times the size of this book, it does succeed in condensing and summarising the key points. It also does so in a reader-friendly way, eschewing jargon and getting to the heart of the matter in a clear yet authoritative manner.
The author, Jeremy Stranks, has several health and safety publications under his belt and is well established in the health and safety community.
Stranks adopts a style that ensures the non-specialist reader is able to access relevant information easily and make sense of what might otherwise, in less skilful hands, be overly complex matters.
This ninth edition will undoubtedly be of great use to SME managers responsible for setting up and maintaining health and safety systems and procedures.
26. Lean Culture for the Construction Industry: Building Responsible and Committed Project Teams by Gary Santorella
Looking to avoid common costly construction delays? Did you know that most delays are preventable? Santorella explores how construction managers can optimize their project process with lean construction management.
Standout review: This book was a good introduction to the lean culture. It helped our company work as a team instead of competing individuals. I believe that it has increased our productivity by 10% or more, just by focusing on disseminating information and resources more effectively. I would recommended it to anyone looking to implement lean practices in their construction business.
27. Markup & Profit: A Contractor’s Guide, Revisited by Michael Stone
When it comes to creating a successful bid, contractors often ask, “How much should I markup my services?” Stone explains just how to go about ensuring that your construction business makes money on the job.
Standout review: A great book with clear and practical advice; this one is a must read.
28. Modern Construction Management by Frank Harris
While Harris’s guide has been a cornerstone for construction professionals for years, his book recently went through a massive rewrite to accommodate the changes in construction management, including BIM, risk management, and corporate social responsibility.
Standout review: I highly recommend the landmark and very modern best practices oriented textbook Modern Construction Management, Seventh Edition by Frank Harris, Ph.D., and Ronald McCaffer, Ph.D., to any students and graduates in civil engineering, construction management, building and quantity surveying, corporate leaders, and government policy makers seeking a clear and all encompassing guide to the current business, technical, environmental, and societal issues and challenges of modern construction management. This book is a tremendous starting point for students and professionals at any level of construction project management.
29. Project Management for Engineering and Construction, Third Edition by Garold (Gary) Oberlender
This book explores how project management techniques, when applied correctly, can streamline engineering and construction processes from conception to completion.
Standout review: There are multitudes of books on project management but they are very general and not specific to engineering or heavy construction projects. This book is directed at complex engineering projects. It would definitely a good introduction to project management for engineering students and I recommend it for project management professionals early in their careers. The material is also suitable for sharing portions with non-project managers such as commercial and operations to better understand the challenges and role of project managers better. The book covers the full range of project management for engineering projects from initiation, early estimating, budgeting, work breakdown, scheduling, construction, risk management, and close out. It also covers soft project management skills related to project teams and personnel management.
30. Reinventing Green Building: Why Certification Systems Aren’t Working and What We Can Do About It by Jerry Yudelson
With a focus on the 2030 Challenge, which aims to have North American construction producing zero-net energy, this analysis explores not just what is wrong with the unsustainable state of the U.S. construction industry, but how to fix it.
Standout review: Excellent book with great perspective on the green building industry by the “Godfather of Green,” Jerry Yudelson. If you are a building industry professional, this is a must read. I highly recommend this book.
31. Running a Successful Construction Company (For Pros, by Pros) by David Gerstel
Building a small business is hard—and construction is no exception. Gerstel looks at common problems remodelers face and provides a guide to avoid and react to these issues.
Standout review: This book is helpful in that it really explains the business end of the construction industry. Though this won’t tell you how to build a house or a hotel… it will tell you the logistics of bidding, tracking expenses, labor costs, time sheets, draws, and all kinds of other things the those not familiar with the industry might have problems with the first go round. It helps you to figure out all of the little things that you might forget when trying to determine “if I do the job for X will I make any money?” The book is quite colorful and has excellent graphs, drawings and pictures to really bring to light what they are explaining to you.
32. Smith, Currie and Hancock’s Common Sense Construction Law: A Practical Guide for the Construction Professional by Thomas J. Kelleher Jr.
Most construction managers aren’t lawyers, but they are somehow expected to know the nuances of construction law. Their solution? This jargon-free guide.
Standout review: This comprehensive reference guide is essential for anyone engaged in construction. In addition to helping you gain a sound understanding of construction law in general, it also offers you practical guidance to avoid costly legal disputes and lawsuits. It is not a substitute for an attorney. You’ll still need one for legal consultation. Nevertheless, this book serves as an invaluable guide to help you understand the legal aspect of your construction projects and avoid potentially costly legal problems in the first place.
33. Successful Construction Project Management: The Practical Guide by Paul Netscher
There are tons of construction project management textbooks available, yet few of them are able to convey the nuances of the profession without barraging the reader with painfully technical language. With the aim of “avoiding being too ‘textbook’ in nature,” Netscher’s review of construction PM makes construction management not just simple, but also easy to understand from the get-go.
Standout review: It is quite clear beyond any doubt that Mr. Netscher has been through many projects of all different sizes, in different construction categories and in many different places which opens up to different cultural labor force and different construction method and added risk. I’m glad he didn’t take the usual class room process group text book approach. Most chapters deals with a specific content, ready to be applied by the contractor. It’s also good to learn from someone who made mistakes, takes blame, which made the book real. He presents the information to cover everything in an easy flowing read. Great Job.
34. Supply Chain Management and Logistics in Construction: Delivering Tomorrow’s Built Environment by Greger Lundesjo
Logistics in the construction industry “describes movement around the construction/project site,” including delivery, warehouse management software, and, of course, contracts. Lundesjo explains how construction managers can make use of supply chain management to optimize their construction sites by bringing over logistics techniques from other industries. The book is complete with case studies.
Standout review: This reviewer’s first impression was to wonder WHY the construction industry would need its own special book, as surely moving bits and pieces around for builders and other trades is hardly unique. There can be issues moving a lorry-load of glass, of course, but then moving highly corrosive chemicals around the world is manageable too; it is just a matter of technique and procedure. Yet boy, was one wrong! There are some subtle differences that can be found within the construction industry’s use of logistics (not all participants are even clued-up but when they’ve seen this book…) and these could possibly be implemented within many other sectors…
One had not considered that even the larger house builders might not have that much purchasing power for many products, when they “only” build 10,000 buildings a year and their delivery address can be the entire country. So every small saving and efficiency within the supply chain can be important, as well as ensuring that production continues unabated. The author puts forward some interesting ideas for creative thinking that might, on first glance, be counterintuitive, yet in the real world could offer up a sizeable saving. You will have to read the book to discover that knowledge and other things that may have you going “duh…” when you realise the apparently obvious things you may be overlooking.
35. The Construction Project Management Success Guide by Andreas P
Looking to capitalize on the reemergence of interest in residential real estate, The Construction Project Management Success Guide looks at the entirety of the project management lifecycle, tailored to this specific industry. With 120 five-star reviews on Amazon, this is one of the most popular construction project management books available.
Standout review: I have been dealing with the construction and decoration of our new home the last few months, but although I have tried everything, nothing seemed to work as it should! Until I found this book… I was tired of wasting time doing construction and it never seem to work the way I planned, everything seems to take the twice the time. I was absolutely exhausted and unmotivated to continue. But here the author does a great job compiling the most important principles of construction project management using a clear, solid, engaging narrative style. Go ahead and grab a copy. It’s totally worth it!
36. The Well-Built House by Jim Locke
If you remember House, Tracy Kidder’s bestselling book about building a home, you may be familiar with Jim Locke, Kidder’s contractor. While the guide is a great primer for construction managers interested in residential construction, it’s also a phenomenal recommendation to clients interested in building a new home.
Standout review: Of all the books I’ve bought on building a new home, this is far and away the best. I just wish I could spirit Mr. Locke and his crew up to Maine to build our retirement home and horse barn. It will be the first, and last, home we build, and what I would give to have the craftsmanship of a builder like Mr. Locke to pass on to my son and grandson. An added gift is his humor and literacy—the book is as well-crafted as I suspect are his houses.
When it comes to the best construction management books, there are likely a few that I missed when creating this list. What do you recommend? Have you read any of these books? Let me know in the comments below!