Upper Marlboro, Md. – ToolBase Services, the home building industry’s objective, technical information supersite, has been fully redesigned with the user’s experience in mind. The site was recently relaunched to help building professionals navigate comprehensive information on materials, innovative technologies, business management, and housing systems more easily. By broadening the information available as well as providing more intuitive, customized navigation and a streamlined format, the new easy-to-use site will better meet the changing needs of building professionals and savvy consumers. Provided by the NAHB Research Center with support from the Partnership for Advancing Technology in Housing (PATH) Program, ToolBase.org is an essential resource for accelerating the awareness of beneficial new technologies and updating building professionals on industry issues and research. [IMAGE: ToolBase.org]
Created to simplify the process of technology selection and implementation, the ToolBase.org website has expanded over the years, becoming the building industry’s leading online resource for practical, objective information on building technologies and the findings of the PATH program. However, to keep pace with advances in product development, evolving industry issues, and the latest Web technology the time had come for an upgrade. The redesign process was initiated in late 2005, with initial modifications to the site’s design determined in cooperation with a panel of building professionals who reexamined the kind of information needed by builders and evaluated the overall usability.
The enhanced site features repackaged information, color-coded Web pages and graphics, and easy-to-find tools to help users quickly locate what they need. The site also features search engine optimization that improves navigation and increases the site’s compatibility with popular external search engines. Whether users enter the site on the home page or at any of the popular technology pages, the new design will yield relevant information and helpful cross-references with one easy search. Information is also cross-referenced to help users find other similar areas of interest.
Overall, these updates have resulted in a more user-friendly resource with dramatically improved search capabilities, more detailed field evaluations, and enhanced multimedia support.
The Research Center continues to refine the selection of online tools available through ToolBase Services as builders and consumers’ information needs evolve. Some of the site’s more specialized resources include:
The PATH Technology Inventory. An online listing of over 150 advanced technologies and practices, the PATH Technology Inventory provides a repository of reliable, non-commercial technical information for building professionals and consumers; and helps practical residential construction innovations gain market awareness and graduate to the mainstream. Leading the overall ToolBase.org site redesign with its own relaunch in early 2006, the Inventory was also revamped to improve its utility, design, and navigation. Among the Technology Inventory’s new features are downloadable Computer Assisted Design (CAD) drawings for over 40 technologies that builders and architects can add directly to plans. And, new online videos further explain product benefits and demonstrate installation. The Inventory is continuously infused with up-and-coming technologies – wind power generators, combined heat and power unites, attic hatch sealing and insulation, synthetic roof underlayment, and advanced lighting controls, to name a few recent additions – that potentially improve the affordability, durability, quality, and environmental performance of housing. Visit the PATH Technology Inventory at http://www.toolbase.org/TechInventory/ViewAll.aspx. Or, to submit a technology for possible inclusion, visit www.toolbase.org/techinventory/submit.aspx.
Field Evaluations. A cooperative effort between builders, remodelers, manufacturers, PATH and the NAHB Research Center, field evaluations place new technologies into residential construction projects across the country so they can be evaluated in real-world conditions. The ToolBase website contains the findings of the nearly 40 field evaluations that have been completed, covering all types of building systems from electrical and HVAC to foundations.
PATH TechSets. A new resource to help builders implement innovations in manageable, systems-based packages, Tech Sets take the guesswork out of choosing cost-effective technologies that can improve home quality and deliver distinct market advantage.
ToolBase TechNotes. These technical write-ups featured on ToolBase.org offer fundamental narratives on common issues builders want to know more about. Some recently introduced TechNotes focus on topics of interest such as copper pinhole leaks; termite protection; the benefits of structural insulated panels (SIPS); alternative materials, and residential building diagnostic tools that can help builders improve the quality of their new homes. Each fact sheet includes a subject synopsis provided by NAHB Research Center experts and additional resources for more detailed information.
Interest among manufacturers and industry groups looking to reach the residential construction community with their products has increased significantly. While the site is non-commercial and does not contain advertising, multilevel sponsorships are available that include enhanced links to the technical information builders, remodelers, trade contractors, and consumers want–specification sheets, CAD details, and installation videos- connecting them with manufacturers’ literature and product information.
ToolBase.org is administered by the NAHB Research Center, with funding from the Partnership for Advancing Technology in Housing (PATH) program and other private sponsors. PATH and NAHB Research Center technical experts are actively seeking information on innovative technologies from researchers, trade associations, and manufacturers for inclusion on ToolBase.org and in the Technology Inventory. Builders and remodelers that have implemented any of the Inventory’s featured products or practices in the field are also encouraged to contribute testimonial information to the site. For more information and to browse the NAHB Research Center’s new ToolBase Services website, visit www.ToolBase.org.
For more information:
NAHB Research Center
(800) 638-8556 x6269