Monday, August 25, 2008

Essential bookshelf title

Homeowners have to tackle every repair by themselves (or hire someone to do it). One of the joys of being a tenant is that not ever repair is your responsibility. A leaky roof or crumbing wall is the landlord's to fix. But a lot of repairs can be done easily, and it can sometimes be more convenient or less stressful to just take care of them.

More importantly, a lot of repairs and maintenance issues are also important conservation measures. Whether it's fixing a leaky faucet, caulking around windows or installing a programmable thermostat, you are fully capable of doing it yourself and helping save energy, water and, if you pay utilities, money.

As a result, I always suggest that everyone should have at least one basic home repair manual. The one I've chosen to keep on my shelf is Do It Yourself: a step-by-step guide to fixing, building, and installing almost anything in your home. As with all such books, there's more than a renter will need, particularly for those who live in apartment buildings. But for those of us who rent houses, there are lots of minor repairs that need doing, and this book is the best general guide I've come across.

A very close second choice, in my opinion, is the Home Depot Home Improvement 1-2-3. It's a great book, but is American. As a result, the instructions do not take into account differences in Canadian building codes. The second edition had a section on Canadian code at the back, but that meant flipping back and forth. A new third edition is coming out soon, and we'll see if they've fixed this flaw.

To be fair, DIY is also a U.S. title. But the Canadian edition was adapted by celebrity handyman Jon Eakes. Knowing that he's gone over it carefully gives me extra confidence in its advice. It's not a perfect book, but I've found its instructions to be accurate and easy to follow.

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