There’s an interesting website that is rather unique in our construction industry (or any other industry, as far as I know) called Be the Pro, or BTP for short. Started in 2012, BTP is sponsored by a number of well-known construction industry players, including Bosch, Quikrete, Keen Boots, Blaklader Work Clothes, Skil, The Construction Marketing Association, and BlueCollar Software. On the website, you’ll find articles and discussions about construction and remodeling projects, with a focus on the tools we use, the techniques we use, and even the clothes we wear, all of which should help to make our projects go faster, easier, and sometimes even cheaper. And of course, no construction forum would be complete without the random talks around the jobsite, where almost anything goes. With over 8500 current registered members and over 10,000 posts each month, the BTP community seems to be growing at an exponential rate.

I particularly like the tool reviews, which are based on actual use on the job or in the shop. While you might think that industry sponsorship would influence which products are reviewed, but actually there seem to be reviews of tools from virtually every manufacturer, all without sponsor interference. Same goes for the clothing we prefer, and user-contributed photos and videos are encouraged.

Also of note are the in-depth articles on topics such as installing window trim, treating decks, dust collection, job safety, running a business, and more. Most of the articles are written by members, though some are contributed by the sponsors themselves, and it’s not always easy to tell the difference. Again, most don’t seem to be plugging the sponsors’ products, though the ones that do should be taken with a grain of salt.

One significant way that this website differs from others related to our industry is that both pros and DIYers are encouraged to participate. Another is that the sponsors have been more than generous at supplying what they refer to as “rewards”. We are talking, tools, clothing, shoes, and even services, all for just registering for and actively participating in the Pro forum. The more you participate, the more points you accumulate. You also get bonus points for writing articles, reviews, or even referring a friend. Points are then redeemed on the Community Rewards list, which is long and constantly updated. I encourage you to check it out…and tell them redwood sent you.

- Mark Ellis has been the owner of Creative Redwood Designs in Northern California for over 35 years. His company specializes in exterior carpentry construction, primarily decks, gazebos and arbors/pergolas. He can be reached at