Don’t get turned off by the ugly cover of “Good House Hunting: 20 Steps to Your Dream Home” by architect Dennis Wedlick. The book is much better than the odd-shaped house on the cover. In fact, the mostly beautiful color photos make this almost a “coffee table quality” home design book.
This is not a book for first-time home buyers who are stretching their budgets. Rather, it is for homeowners who either want to move up to a nicer house or condo, or who are considering remodeling their present home rather than moving. In other words, it is an idea book.
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Author Dennis Wedlick is a New York City architect specializing in helping people find and design their dream homes. For some, he explains, it will be making the best of a good location, such as a New York City condo. For others, it will be renovating a suburban home or perhaps a second home in the country.
Wedlick shares his clients’ many dream-home experiences. There are several before and after examples of how he took the ideas expressed by his clients and turned them into dream home reality.
Most turned out very well. The author explains how he tries to help homeowners achieve their dream homes yet give the result a “humility” with emphasis on strengths of the architecture. Lots of color photos illustrate Wedlick’s advice based on many successes.
Of course, nobody will like all of the author’s suggestions for creating a dream home. Much depends on the circumstances and the budget. A few results turned out cold and lacking warmth.
For example, one photo of a yellow bedroom shows an ugly light fixture hanging over a plain bed, which looks like it is in a Motel 6 (not that I’ve ever stayed in a Motel 6!). However, the majority of the author’s results are much more pleasing.
Most of the book emphasizes how creative designers and architects can turn the ideas of homeowners into reality, adding improvements along the way. An amazing feature of this book is the variety of home types which the author makes into livable spaces.
The book’s final chapters explain the realities of home construction and renovation costs. In the “Weathering the Storm of Construction Work” chapter, Wedlick advises “Relish the excitement of the planning phase.”
Then he switches to including cost contingencies of 15 percent to 20 percent and time contingencies of 30 percent to 40 percent beyond the contractor’s estimate. “Just putting on a smile is a trick I always use when going to a house in mid-construction,” the author advises.
Chapter topics include “Discovering Your Dream Location”; “Setting the Price Range”; “Judging a Home by Its Cover: The Exterior”; “Seeing Beyond the Sofa: The Interior”; “Fulfilling the Wish List”; “Achieving Dreams by Making Minor Adjustments”; “Performing Total Transformations”; “Knowing When to Leave Well Enough Alone”; “Recognizing Healthy Environments”, and “Understanding What the Government Has to Say.”
This practical book for home dreamers shows what can be accomplished to make dreams into realities in an organized way. The author emphasizes the importance of being flexible, yet realistic as to what can and cannot be achieved in building or renovating a dream home. On my scale of one to 10, this superb new book rates a solid 10.
“Good House Hunting: 20 Steps to Your Dream Home,” by Dennis Wedlick (Harper Collins Publishers, New York), 2005, $24.95, 149 pages; Available in stock or by special order at local bookstores, public libraries and www.amazon.com.
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