When forklift access is limited and a crane is too expensive for a job, many contractors use portable material hoists. Available with a variety of power options, load capacities and lifting speeds, portable hoists also are well-suited to projects that are beyond a forklift's reach. And they are a labor-saving and ergonomic alternative to using the "rope and pulley" method, passing material up a scaffold or carrying material up a ladder. Whether repairing a chimney in an established suburb, building a penthouse on top of an existing building, or cladding a multistory building in a congested urban area, a contractor should consider buying or renting a portable hoist. Consider the following when selecting a hoist to meet your needs: lifting capacity, lift height, lifting speed, power options, mounting options, safety features, the availability of remote control, and the types of attachments available. This story reviews the hoists of four manufacturers: Hi- Tech Hoist Corp., Beta Max Inc., The Crist Corp. and Tractel Inc.