Remodeling Old Homes #3: My Favorite How To Books

Posted by John on April 19th, 2012

I love books.  Not just any books, mind you.  I love How To books.  There is something empowering about a How To book that I find very satisfying.  Consequently, I rarely part with any of the DIY books I’ve collected over the years.  They’re usually filled with so much info that even though I may never re-plumb an entire bathroom or stucco a wall, I can’t bring myself to get rid of them.  Maybe I’ll loan a couple out to some friends or family, that I don’t mind at all, but you won’t see me sell any.  That is unless of course there’s no way I’ll EVER use it for ANY project at ANY point in history… which, is doubtful.

I’m categorizing this post as Remodeling Old Homes simply because they are probably more useful on the whole for people who are renovating, but they are just as applicable to owners of new or already renovated homes that need to make small repairs or major upgrades.

Here’s a list of my favorite How To books…

1.  Reader’s Digest Complete Do-It-Yourself Manual.  This book has EVERYTHING.  Wanna know about what glue to use for each project?  It’s in there.  Repair a faucet?  Yep.  Pour concrete?  Mmm Hmm.  Fix a hole in the Titanic?  You betcha!

2.  Home Improvement 1-2-3.  This book is a little more focused on the home, while the Reader’s Digest is a little more varied.  There’s not as much info in this Home Depot book, but it explains projects nicely and there is still a ton of info in here.  You can pick this one up right at the Home Depot.  I first bought this book immediately after I bought my first home and it was very helpful.

3.  This Black and Decker home wiring guide is the best electrical how to book I’ve read.  It’s a wealth of basic wiring info.  For your average home owner that’s attempting a small project, this book is perfect.  It shows you how to setup circuits in a varying number of situations (single switch, 3-way switches, 4-way, receptacles, etc).  It provides enough general theory that you’ll get a lot out of it.  This book is pretty much how I learned how to wire a house.

4.  Drywalling is hard.  Hanging the wallboards is the easy part.  Getting seamless tape joints takes a lot of practice and experience.  I’m OK at it, I still need some practice.  This book lays out the fundamentals to get you on the right track.  If you’re thinking about tackling a drywall job yourself you can save yourself a lot of money.  Consider reading this book if you don’t have a lot of experience with it.  It’ll save you a lot of aggravation.

5.  Plumbing is another area where you can save some dough if you do it yourself.  I picked up this book because I re-plumbed my first house and I wanted to know where all the supply and drain pipes go relative to one another.  Another really solid Home Depot book.  There is a lot of info on repairing faucets and toilets, which can be helpful.  Toilets I will fix, but if a faucet is leaking or giving me fits, I just replace it.

6.  If you REALLY get into home improvement and DIY projects and you need a kitchen facelift, then consider building your own cabinets.  If you’re intimidated by that whole scenario, start with a small book shelf and see how that goes.  Cabinet construction is not that difficult.  You’re basically making a box.  Read this book before you start.  It goes a little over the top in terms of planning and layout, but the basic theory behind it is excellent.  Nowadays you can plan your cabinet layout and cutsheet in a decent cabinet software program.

I think I have a few more books yet, but I think I’ll save them for another post.  Do you have any quality reference books that you value? 

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