What's the Dr. Spock of home repair and renovation?
July 31, 2007 7:39 AM   Subscribe

What's the Dr. Spock of home repair and renovation?

We're closing on our first house, and I'm wondering if anyone has a reference book for repairs that they swear by. I see offerings from Home Depot, Readers Digest, and of course Time-Life used to sell those multivolume sets, but I'm hoping the hive mind can steer me towards the cream of the crop. Is there one book to rule them all?

The closest ask.MeFi post seemed to be this answer to a slightly different question. Have you tried any of these? Are they the answer?

And of course if there are great sites for this, I'm interested to hear about them too.
posted by condour75 to Home & Garden (11 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
The "For pros by pros" series (many topics) from Taunton Press is excellent, as is their "Fine Homebuilding" magazine. I think for under $50 per year ($20 for subscribers) you can get access to their online archive of articles, which is very useful.
posted by true at 8:00 AM on July 31, 2007

I've used DIY Network and Expert villagecountless times. (Expert Village has videos too!)
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 8:03 AM on July 31, 2007 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I have Home Improvement 1-2-3 from Home Depot. It's very very good at giving quick and easy to follow instructions on how to do just about anything around the house. Note the emphasis - not much in-depth analysis of technique, but lots of simple directions and photos.
posted by chuma at 8:57 AM on July 31, 2007 [1 favorite]

I picked up one of the Readers Digestofferings for a couple bucks at a yard sale and its been great for basic first-home repairs. Also has a handy section explaining basic tools, types of wood and metal, etc.

Since these sorts of things don't change radically over time, an older edition will still be 95% relevant. And at 44 cents, I'd call that a bargain.
posted by googly at 9:10 AM on July 31, 2007 [1 favorite]

I second For Pros By Pros and all of the Taunton home repair books. Good stuff.
posted by electroboy at 9:46 AM on July 31, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks everyone, since I'm just getting started I think I'm leaning towards the Home Improvement 1-2-3 or the Reader's Digest, though the "Pros" series looks intriguing. And for 44 cents, hell I might get a few of these used and try them out.
posted by condour75 at 11:07 AM on July 31, 2007

After I bought my first house, I depended on the Reader's Digest manual for a LOT of things. Even when I was investigating a repair that I wouldn't do myself, it gave me the info I needed to talk with whatever repair or trade person I had to contact. I still refer to my 15-year-old copy; I hear the new one is even better.
posted by wryly at 11:14 AM on July 31, 2007

I started out, long ago, with the Home Depot series, and then graduated into various Taunton publications (Fine Homebuilding article reprints and the like). Good high-end sites include:

JLC online (Journal Light Construction). Geared more toward the professional, so be careful asking questions, if you do at all.

Ask The Builder: More on the "Home Depot Book" side of things (more consumer, less tradesman)--but still good.

For tricky jobs that require some knowledge of best practices and an inkling of code (without having the code books myself, you understand), I've been referring to Residential and Light Commercial Construction Standards, billing itself as "The All-In-One, Authoritative Reference Compiled from Major Building Codes, Recognized Trade Custom, Industry Standards ". That's a pretty accurate summary. I like it because I'm not by far an expert on everything, and I want to know The Right Way (tm) to do something. Of course, there's more than one way, but there's a lot of wrong ways, too.

From the other books you mention, the latter book might be a bit much for you, yet. In time, maybe not.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 11:34 AM on July 31, 2007

I would suggest you splurge for the new Reader's Digest manual at $4 if you go that route. Maybe 95% of the old book is still current, but you don't know which 5% is out of date.
posted by yohko at 11:39 AM on July 31, 2007

I take it back ... I seem to have linked to a book about repairing things that you might keep in or near your home, instead of your home itself.
posted by yohko at 11:49 AM on July 31, 2007

I always give new homeowners Home Improvement 1-2-3 from Home Depot. Over the years, lots of recipients have told me that the book came in very handy. My house is from the 1920's and that book is my starting point when things go wonky.

It's definitely worth having on your bookshelf.
posted by 26.2 at 2:07 AM on August 1, 2007

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