Books for Single-Female Homebuyers

By Barbara Ballinger, REALTOR® Magazine

Forget trying to weasel out of replacing a toilet seat or changing doorknobs. If your female clients are ready to take the plunge as single homebuyers, they also should be ready to pick up that wrench, hammer, or screwdriver rather than call their favorite neighborhood contractor. Put another way: If women are so eager and ready to break through the glass ceiling, albeit slowly, they should be ready and able to repair the ceiling when they do, say the authors of a useful home repair tome, who learned to become handy because they had to. There are several other very useful home-repair books on the market, which aren’t geared specifically for women but will prove useful for females getting started. Before your female clients proceed, they should consider buying a few how-to videos about making home repairs, taking a class at a home center or community college, and buying a tool kit adapted for women’s typically smaller hands. The following three books will prove useful additions to any home library.

  • Dare to Repair: A Do-it-Herself Guide to Fixing (Almost) Anything in the Home by Julie Sussman and Stephanie Glakas-Tenet (Harper Resource, 2002). The authors, wives of CIA staff, explain that women have the stuff to be resourceful when it comes to tackling their own repairs if they must. Often, they prefer, however, to take the easy way out and have a man do the work. Case in point: If a man is present in a house when a woman spots a bug, spider, or other scary creature, she’ll yell for him to kill and dispose of it. But if he’s not available, she’ll smash it, stomp on it, and flush it down the toilet, they say. Because the authors’ husbands traveled so frequently for business and they lacked funds to hire contractors, the women took control and learned to do everything from tightening toilet handles to thawing frozen water pipes and patching cracked driveways. The book encourages women to try to make their own repairs with clear-cut instructions, helpful illustrations, and safety tips. It also suggests that women who lack interest or skills to tackle the more complicated jobs, such as electrical repairs, should hire a professional, and they offer good advice about finding a contractor. The back of the book provides a resource list with names of useful associations and manufacturers. Buy this book from Amazon.com.
  • Nesting: It’s a Chick Thing by Ame Mahler Beanland and Emily Miles Terry (Workman Publishing Co., 2004). The two women authors met a decade ago at a publisher’s office on the West Coast in the midst of the dot-com revolution, according to this newly released book. Frustrated with conventional information on homes, the women looked to each another for decorating inspiration, cooking savoir faire, and home-repair backup help. In the process, they asked others for suggestions, expanding their chick network eventually to about 300 women who became their posse of postfeminist domestic gurus. Their tips cover everything needed to nest—decorating, entertaining, repairing, cooking, and gardening—and all were chick tested. Examples of useful advice: learn to paint like a pro, which means getting the right prep supplies and choosing the right kind of paint; create a room of your own; and put together a starter tool kit with the basics of measuring tape(s), a set of screwdrivers, hammers, drill and drill bits, level, stud finder, wrenches, pliers, hot-glue gun, box cutter, wire cutters, and yardstick. Don’t know what some of these are or how to use them? Take a class or go to a well-stocked home center like Home Depot, the authors say. Their best advice comes from Margaret Thatcher: “If you want anything said, ask a man; if you want anything done, ask a woman.” After women read this book, they should, at least, be inspired to try. Buy this book from Amazon.com.
  • Home Maintenance for Dummies by James Carey and Morris Carey (Wiley Publishing Inc., 2002). The tips at the back of this book make it well worth its price. The first group of 10 tips covers preventive maintenance, such as replacing filters to make equipment run smoothly and being sure the drains run freely. The second group of tips focus on what should be done monthly, such as checking that carbon monoxide and smoke detectors function correctly. A third group cites smart regular maintenance chores like using light bulbs that match the fixture’s rating and never painting over mildew in the hope that it won’t return. It will, so the better plan of attack is to remove it. The book also provides good checklists to organize maintenance tasks according to an annual, seasonal, and monthly schedule rather than leaving such chores until problems develop and repairs become more complicated and costly. Buy this book from Amazon.com.

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This post was contributed exclusively for REALTOR® Magazine.

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