Renovating Old Houses
by George Nash (Taunton)
For the in-depth nitty-gritty of home renovation, nothing compares to this newly revised 1993 favorite. Written by a veteran renovation contractor and educator with a refreshingly liberal attitude toward historical purity (read: replacement windows are okay), it covers the gamut from reglazing a sash to lifting the ridge beam. The result: A highly evolved form of DIY literature that will keep you engrossed for hours, almost wishing you'd taken on a more challenging fixer-upper.
Most surprising fact: The crude, trowel-scarred texture of "authentic" early colonial and European plasterwork was likely the result of 17th- and 18th-century do-it-yourselfers who couldn't afford to pay a professional to do it right, i.e., smoothly.