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Review of Invest In Your Nest by Barbara K

While clearly marketed towards women, anyone who is new to home improvement will find that Invest In Your Nest [3] is a great introductory text that reads quickly, explains thoroughly, and demystifies all the intricacies of improving your space. With a few chapters focusing on buying and selling your home, the meat of the book lies in the detailed explanation of home improvements, their resale and enjoyment values, and identification of whether a particular project requires an expert or is a do-it-yourself project.

When I was approached to review Invest In Your Nest by AOL Home Improvement Coach Barbara Kavovit, I peeked online to get a feel for the topic of the book and despite reading that it was being marketed primarily towards women, I agreed to take a look at it. In reading the book, outside of a few semantic standouts (where she wrote handywoman and then put handyman in parenthesis) I couldn’t even tell that the target audience was women so don’t let that scare you off from getting this book. What I didn’t learn until later was that this book is a follow up to her first book, Room for Improvement (which I have not read) which “provide[s] the tools and the confidence required to tackle basic home repair projects,” which I felt was the topic of this book. I might give that first book a look too, if anyone has read either I invite you to comment below and let us all know what you thought of them.

It’s a quick read, I took it on my trip to Tahoe and finished it within a day or two. The book speaks from the author’s experience of buying, selling, and renovating her own home(s) so you know you’re getting practical applicable advice. The meat of the book is in the renovations sections where she identifies which projects require expert help and which can be done on your own. Through the first few sections, I thought she was a little too conservative in what she recommended as expert-required because almost all the projects were expert-required; in fact, the first one that I can remember that was a do-it-yourself project was washing your windows! This changed as we went further along in the book since there was a large project bias towards the front (try architecting a new addition) and smaller projects near the end (installing tile backsplash).

The book is organized into three main sections. The first section is in buying and selling of your home (The Big Buy and The Essential Sell), the second section is titled the Big Picture, and the third is Room-by-room improvements. In the Big Picture, she talks about all the “important” (read: valuable) improvements you can make to all parts of your house to increase home value. This goes into the idea that adding bathrooms and spaces and even classy trims are money makers in the long term and very enjoyable in the short. The third section is great in that it speaks to specific parts of your house such as the Curcial Kitchen and the Indispensable Bathroom. If nothing else, it’ll give you some ideas.

Within each chapter there are little sidebars and here’s where novices, especially if you aren’t comfortable dealing with contractors, will find the greatest value in the book. With the expert required projects, she identifies what the experts are required, what licenses and insurances they should carry, what their final work products should be, and roughly how much it should cost. She lets you know what the expert should be doing so you won’t be taken for a ride. For the few projects she listed as do-it-yourself (with her concept of yourself being a woman, whereas I would extend it to anyone new to home ownership and who has never done any do-it-yourself projects), they listed the equipment you’d need and an expectation of what you would need to do and how much time it would take. I wish there were some pictures included in some of these projects but I suppose if you really wanted to do-it-yourself you could get one of those do-it-yourself books which are always chock full of step by step pictures.

I only have one knock towards the book and that’s likely because I’m in my first home, some of the projects she suggests are simply outside of my budget. She speaks often of her summer home because she was able to design every last bit of it prior to its construction which is great for example purposes but terrible when you’re talking to someone who isn’t looking to pay thousands for a landscaper!