Book Report: ’50 Plus One Tips When Remodeling Your Home’

FiftyplusonetipsIf you want to undertake a home remodel but have no idea how to get started, here's one way to proceed: Type “remodeling” into an Internet search engine such as Google and spend about two weeks reading everything you can set your eyes on.

Or, you could pick up a copy of "50 Plus One Tips When Remodeling Your Home" by William Resch and get a sampling of pertinent information in a couple of hours.

Want to know the issues in creating a home office? Health and safety on the job site? Doing part of the work yourself? Seeking arbitration? Going green? Resch has done a lot of thinking about these topics and apparently a lot of Internet research.

Despite its title, the book is not really a compilation of tips per se, but is composed of 51 chapters, four pages each, broken down into four sections: the challenge, the facts, the solutions and resources.

Chapters include “Neighbors and Noise,” “Windows and Lighting” and “What Is Hot in Attic Remodeling?” The final chapter, “The Celebration,” is an oddity, sharing recipes such as sausage and egg casserole you can prepare for an open house when the remodel is finished.

The book is one in a series from Chicago–based Encouragement Press and includes “50 Plus One Tips When Hiring & Firing Employees” and “50 Plus One Greatest Sports Heroes of All Time” among other titles. While the cover states that the author is a contractor and builder, the inside bio says he is a project manager for a millwork company and that “he has been in the general contracting and millwork industries for 20 years.” Continue report . . .

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Indeed, the information in the book does not seem to come from the perspective of a savvy contractor with insider knowledge, and the only first-person anecdote is about a bad experience Resch and his wife had hiring a contractor many years ago. The book’s cover also promises to reveal which projects bring the most return on investment, but I could not find that information inside the book.

While the 51 chapters bring up a lot of issues you should think about, the chapters themselves are rather shallow. The biggest letdown is the chapter on hiring a contractor, which is the very point in a remodel where homeowners so often fail. Resch uses most of the chapter’s four pages to give you a list of horrors to avoid and tell you of his aforementioned bad experience, then devotes a few paltry paragraphs telling how to find a good contractor.

Nothing is mentioned of professional certifications (such as certified graduate remodeler or certified aging in place specialist) contractors might have to distinguish them from others in their area, or memberships in peer networking groups (like Business Networks or Remodelers Advantage) that help remodeling companies fine-tune themselves into smooth running machines. Instead, he suggests that one of the best ways to find a contractor is through Internet referral services, about which I’ve not heard one good thing in 16 years as a remodeling journalist.

Still, the truly uninformed homeowner will benefit from the vast number of remodeling issues this book raises, and it can give you a hint about the direction you are heading — remodel or not? Do it yourself or hire a contractor? But after that is established, you should start looking for a more comprehensive book to get you farther along your remodeling journey.