Friday, April 17, 2009

Quick Fixes

I've written before that every household needs a good, fairly comprehensive repair manual. There are a couple reasons for this. First, a lot of basic maintenance and repairs are simple and really not worth the hassle of calling a landlord about. After all, not everyone's landlord is helpful. Or competent. Plenty of tenants have complained about the shoddy patch-up jobs or scary wiring work of their landlords (please, landlords everywhere, hire a decent electrician!).

But there are other good reasons. Some green projects require a few construction-related skills that you may not have. And if your landlord's letting you do 'em, you'd better do 'em right and make 'em look pretty.

That said, my favourite general repair manuals are big, cost more than $40 and contain a lot of material that renters just don't need. I mean, how often is a tenant going to be insulating an attic or hanging a curtain wall?

A new book just came across my desk that brings us a lot closer to the sort of repair manual that a tenant needs. It's DIY Quick Fix, a spin-off on the successful Do It Yourself book that came out a couple years ago. Like its cousin, DIY Quick Fix is an American title Canadianized by Jon Eakes. (A pet peeve of mine is manuals that give instructions that don't meet Canadian building code requirements.)

The Quick Fix is a small, spiral-bound book, which means it'll lie open to the right page for easy reference. It's also got a cover price of $20, about half that of the full manual.

Best of all, the 100 repairs in it are comparatively small things, and include many that a tenant may need to take care of. It's a great list, including fixing paint drips to replacing a broken bathroom tile, patching a hole in the drywall, repairing a drawer handle and replacing a broken electical receptacle.

Some, such as instructions on how to patch simple leaks in water pipes, will also have environmental benefits. After all, landlords and their repair folk don't always show up quickly and a lot of water can leak while you wait. And your stuff is getting wet.

More than a good green book, this is a good buy for tenants. It'll help you keep your pad looking good and functioning well, and if you live in a place with mandatory deposits, it'll probably pay for itself when you move out and don't lose money to the landlord for that hole in the drywall that happened when your college drinking buddy was over and... well, that's a story for another blog.

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