Home-repair guide focuses on cost-cutting


The Enterprise Foundation has gone upscale.

The foundation, which helps low-income people reduce the cost of homebuilding and repair, is letting the middle class in on some of its tricks of the trade.

"A Consumer's Guide to Home Improvement, Renovation and Repair," a 270-page how-to book, includes suggestions for more than 300 projects -- from replacing a water heater to reroofing a two-story home. The book explains how to design a project though it doesn't tell how to perform specific home repair tasks.

But the heart of the book is a list of prices, which accounts for about half of the guide, according to Peter Werwath, director of ++ the foundation's Rehabilitation Work Group and one of the authors.

For each project, the book provides several construction options, the cost for each if a contractor is used, the cost if the work is done by the homeowner and a rating on the difficulty of the project.

Since its founding by Mr. Werwath seven years ago, the Rehabilitation Work Group has searched for less expensive ways to renovate housing. Much of that research was in "The Cost Cuts Manual," printed in 1987.

pTC "If our mission was to attack the high price of construction in the United States, one of the best ways to do that is to collect all of these cost-cutting tricks," said Robert Santucci, another of the book's authors.

Mr. Santucci said the new book an expanded and revised version of the earlier one, was written to help all homeowners, both low-income and middle-class, reduce building costs.

In addition, he said, the foundation hopes the "upscale" version will help raise money. It received an $18,000 advance on the book, Mr. Santucci said.

"We looked at the information and saw there was a wider market for the ideas," Mr. Santucci said.

The authors eliminated sections germane to non-profit groups -- on the acquisition of abandoned land and the enlistment of volunteers, forexample -- added information, included more expensive projects and explained how to pick a contractor.

Mr. Werwath, of Ellicott City, was a contractor, building inspector and housing official in Maine before starting the Rehabilitation Work Group. Mr. Santucci is a housing consultant in Arlington, Va.

The third author is Brooke Stoddard, a free-lance writer. The guide, published by John Wiley and Sons, costs $19.95.

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