Spirit level raises real estate construction quality

Tool keeps framing, brickwork from going awry

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Level, meaning perfectly horizontal. Plumb, meaning perfectly vertical. These are two words you hear a lot in construction, and they're vital to a quality, finished product in everything from rough framing to fine finish work. A single tool – technically called a spirit level, better known simply as a level – is the workhorse in the industry for checking plumb and level, and a good spirit level belongs in every toolbox. THE BASICS When shopping for a level, you'll find several different styles, materials, lengths, features, and price ranges. Fortunately, levels are not terribly expensive and a good one will last you a lifetime with proper care. By the same token, a bad one will cause you no end of grief, so shop for quality. When choosing a level, the design and the material are two of the most important things to look for. At the low end, you'll find simple I-beam designs – they look like an "I" when viewed from the end – that are made of hard plastic. Bett...