Go to Home Depot and buy structural components (and ask a fabricator/builder). These items should be in your office while you design on the computer. Having the material in your hand is the best way to proportion members later on the computer. I recommended:
- Wood Sizes (2x4, 2x6, 4x4 and 6x6 minimum, 1 foot length is fine)
- Joist Hangers and Hurricane Ties (Several Sizes)
- 8" CMU (1)
- #3 and #4 Rebar (1 foot length is fine)
- An Expansion and Epoxy Bolt
- Also ask a local fabricator for a foot of a W12x19
- Shear Tab and Clip Angle (5" Wide x 3/8 tab and a L4x4x3/8 angle,1 foot length is fine)
- 3/4 dia A325N and A325-TC and 7/8 dia A490 bolts
- Ask a concrete inspector for a 8" dia. concrete cylinder.
- Get all the typical nails and screws (8d, 10d, #12 etc)
Display these proudly in the office for all engineers to see. These real samples are vital to be able to make informed structural design decisions.