Guides To Get The Do-it-yourselfer Doing It

By Vicky Katz Whitaker

May 2, 2008 5 min read


Guides to get the do-it-yourselfer doing it

By Vicky Katz Whitaker

Copley News Service

A section of drywall here, a new tile floor there, a replacement window in the kitchen. Sounds easy enough.

Well, maybe not.

Unless, that is, you have a way to guide yourself through each project. That's where comprehensive home-improvement books come in and, fortunately, there are plenty of excellent ones for both the fledgling and advanced do-it-yourselfer. Among them:

- "Joanne Liebeler's Do-It-Herself" (Sunset Books, $24.95); a 252-page home repair and improvement guide written for women by women.

Penned by Liebeler, a home-improvement show host and producer, and co-author Bridget Biscotti Bradley, the in-the-trenches guide is geared toward female homeowners. As Liebeler points out, "single females are the second-largest group of first-time home buyers, right after married couples. We've traded apron strings for purse strings and we're opening those Coach bags to make a huge and smart investment in a home."

As might be expected, the guide gets into areas not traditionally found in homeowner do-it-yourself books. There's a chapter on home safety that discusses smoke, carbon monoxide, radon and water-leak detectors, dealing with asbestos, keeping intruders out, fire hazards and safety, even what to do to prevent damage to your home in an earthquake.

Another section explores working on a do-it-yourself project by yourself. Here, the authors recommend such things as carrying a cell phone (to call for help if you're injured using a power tool in your garage), and tell you how to get rid of leftover building materials. The soft-cover book is available at most major booksellers and online sites like and

- "Readers Digest Complete Do-It-Yourself Manual" (Reader's Digest Editors, $35).

First published in 1973, the manual been completely revised and updated for this third edition and includes new sections on landscaping and storage projects among its 17 chapters and more than 3,000 photographs and illustrations. Published in hard cover, it's available at major bookstores and online booksellers.

- "Lowe's Complete Home Improvement and Repair" (Sunset Books, $24).

This is a substantial (560-page) updated version of a guide first published in 2000 by the 1,375-store home improvement chain. The new edition includes several hundred new step-by-step photographs along with updated guides to the home products and tools needed to do projects. Picture pages of tools divided by tasks such as painting, plumbing or cabinet installation, make it easy to identify what tools you'll need for the job, be a molding scraper, a notched trowel or a stud finder. The guide takes you step-by-step through some of the more complicated do-it-yourself projects such as installing a new garage door or repairing masonry siding. Published by Sunset, the hardbound book is available at Lowe's as well as at major bookstores and online booksellers.

- "Do-It-Yourself Home Improvement" by Julian Cassell, Peter Parkham and Theresa Coleman (DK Publishing, $35).

This guide will tell you everything you want to know about doing your own home improvements and repairs - and then some. Cassell and Parkham are no strangers to the home-improvement field. The award-winning authors have run their own property renovation business for more than 30 years. Trained in architecture, Coleman has written numerous books and articles for do-it-yourselfers as well as professionals. The trio maintains that "the key to do-it-yourself is knowing what you can achieve. As long as safety issues are never compromised, pushing your own perceived limitations a little further than you think possible can provide a great deal of satisfaction."

And just in case the task looks too daunting, they tell you how to hire outside help. Also available at major booksellers and online.

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