Whether you already own a house or condo, or plan to buy one, you will profit from the sage advice of Barbara K. in her new book “Invest in Your Nest.” This highly detailed book explains which home improvements add value to your residence, the approximate costs, and even which jobs you can do yourself and which should be done by professionals.

Please don’t ask me why author “Barbara K.” uses that name. Maybe she’s in the witness protection program? Just between us, her real last name is Kavovit. If I knew as much about home renovation as she obviously does, I would be proud to use my real name.

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This fascinating new book has two goals: one is to encourage readers and show them how to buy their first homes. Barbara K. places special emphasis on single moms, because that’s what she is. Judging from the photo of her huge home she built, she and son Zach have more than enough room. The second purpose is to show how to add value to a home by making smart improvements.

The first one-third of the book is about how to buy your home. Barbara K. reveals how she bought her first house when she was earning just $40,000 per year. Yet she bought a $500,000 house. The author takes readers step by step through the process, from checking and correcting credit reports, to finding the right house, and obtaining a mortgage.

Barbara K. recommends buying a fixer-upper house and doing as much fix-up work as possible. “Why pay someone else for work you can do to your exact specifications yourself? Don’t be afraid of work, which can make you money at the same time,” she advises.

Along the way, the author suggests working with real estate professionals, such as a buyer’s agent, mortgage broker, professional home inspector, and real estate attorney, to avoid costly mistakes.

After buying a house, Barbara K. says, “Every time I build, renovate, or move in to a home, I think about how I can increase its value so I can eventually sell and upgrade.” In other words, she wants to pyramid her real estate wealth while improving her lifestyle by buying homes needing profitable improvements.

Although the first few chapters are the most valuable, the remainder of the book goes into great detail about upgrading a house, room by room and component by component. There is virtually nothing Barbara K. doesn’t tackle. For example, when discussing kitchen improvements, she goes into great detail about counter finishes, their desirability, and approximate costs.

As an experienced home renovator, I wish I had this book when I started out years ago. It would have saved me from some costly mistakes. However, if the book has a flaw, it is the author makes the many home improvements seem too easy. Especially when fixing an entire home, nothing is as neat and uncomplicated as Barbara K. makes it sound.

Chapter topics include “The Big Buy”; “The Essential Sell”; “The Inside Story”; “Finishes and Function”; “Adding On”; “The Crucial Kitchen”; “The Indispensable Bathroom”; “Curb Appeal”; and “Rooms for Living.”

Although not a separate chapter, I especially enjoyed the attention paid to outdoor landscaping, which I always thought was very important. “Landscaping is the picture frame around your home. Just as the wrong frame can diminish a stunning piece of artwork, the right frame elevates the painting’s beauty. In much the same way, landscaping can truly showcase your home,” the author emphasizes.

Home renovators, whether just sprucing up your residence or taking on a major home fix-up, will profit from this book because it explains in great detail the projects that add value to homes. Especially valuable are the cost and time estimates, as well as the author’s advice based on her experiences renovating many homes. On my scale of one to 10, this outstanding book rates a solid 10.

“Invest in Your Nest,” by Barbara K. (Rodale Books, Emmaus, PA), 2006, $19.95; 219 pages; Available in stock or by special order at local bookstores, public libraries, and amazon.com.

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

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