When I picked up “The Ultimate Home and Property Maintenance Manual” by Joe Beck, I was hoping for a solid reference book to which I can refer when a home fix-it problem arises. However, I was disappointed because this is a very simple home repair guide for the easiest problems without much detail in the explanations.

Although there are many black-and-white photos throughout the book showing the repair topics, none offered details about how to make necessary repairs. The photo captions are often downright stupid and simplistic such as, “Shingles work hard to keep your house dry, so you don’t have to” and “Windows that are kept clean and well lubricated stay attractive for years.” Duh!

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I have the feeling Sears Craftsman either paid or made some arrangement with the author to get its tools and equipment pictured throughout the book. Surely, there must be other tools of equal or better quality to be recommended. These photos from one supplier made me question the author’s objectivity.

The book is very complete about what might need repair and maintenance around your house. But after I read the hundreds of very brief explanations, I asked, “Is that all there is to know?”

A very useful feature of the book is the author’s estimate of time needed to complete a repair or installations. But the estimates often seem irrelevant, such as an estimated 2-5 hours to replace glass in a wooden frame window (rated “fairly easy”) to masking and protecting against paint sprays estimated at 5-7 hours (rated “difficult”). Having completed those tasks, I found the estimates much longer than my experiences.

One topic that Beck completely overlooked is the importance of mold. That nasty word isn’t even mentioned in the book. The closest the author comes is a photo of mildew, which he says can easily be removed with a homemade bleach solution.

Entire books have been written on the dangers of mold. Either the author is unaware of this important topic, or he elects to ignore it.

The book doesn’t provide much information about the author’s qualifications. Other than learning Joe Beck was a contractor for 15 years and he owned a landscaping company, we don’t know much about his qualifications to write this book. Occasionally, he offers practical tips, such as buying equipment and materials during the off-season to save money. But most of the information is very basic and not very helpful.

A classic example, in the section about sealing an asphalt driveway, says, “Carefully pour the sealer where you think you’ll need it to start.” The next photo’s caption says, “Use an applicator to spread the sealer evenly.” Duh.

Perhaps it is the black-and-white photos, with their mundane captions, which dulled my interest in what should have been a great book. The chapter outline looks great. But the superficial explanations made me beg for more details on how to fix the home maintenance problems.

Chapter topics include “Choosing and Using Tools”; “Roof, Chimney and Gutters”; “Plumbing Systems”; “Electrical Systems”; “Heating and Cooling Systems”; “Floors”; “Walls and Doors”; “Windows”; “Basements”; “Driveways, Walkways and Patios”; “Siding”; “Decks”; “Pools”; “Tools for Property Maintenance”; “The Lawn”; “Flower Beds”; “Fences”; and “Trees for Natural Privacy and Wind Screening.”

It’s hard to get excited after reading this dull book. The author provides just enough information to let the reader know what is involved in maintaining or repairing the home component. But the book doesn’t provide enough detail to make the reader feel confident of successful completion. On my scale of one to 10, this disappointing book rates a six.

“The Ultimate Home and Property Maintenance Manual,” by Joe Beck (McGraw-Hill, New York), 2005, $24.95, 330 pages; Available in stock or by special order at local bookstores, public libraries and www.amazon.com.

(For more information on Bob Bruss publications, visit his
Real Estate Center
).

***

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