Home Improvement Survival
Guide for Men

How a Man Can Survive a Home Improvement Project Without Losing His Sanity or a Finger


The fun if not functional handbook for the hesitant (or hopeless) handyman.


Guys: tired of being known as the only man on your block who can’t change a flashlight battery without hiring an electrician? Wondering why your wife puts the local emergency room on speed dial every time you pick up a hammer? Peeved because your last home improvement project ending up costing more than your wedding? The Home Improvement Survival Guide for Men is for you!

Loaded with humorous, helpful tips, this book will guide you through the perils of plumbing, home repair and other common household handyman tasks with witty explanations plus tongue-in-cheek instructions for simple projects. Get the latest dubious home improvement tips on:

  • Consulting your wife before starting: “When you are discussing a project with your spouse make sure to use calming, non-technical terms and phrases, such as ‘cheap’ or ‘spackle will fix that.’”
  • Saving money with insulation: “If you’re not familiar with insulation, it’s that stuff that rains down on you when you open the attic door and then makes you itch the rest of the day and wonder if you just got cancer.”
  • Replacing a toilet: “Even though this is probably the most revolting job you’ll ever perform, it makes for great bragging rights to the guys at the office, who will be impressed that you did something so nasty yet cool, and that you’re not retching from a terminal case of toilet gingivitis.”
  • How to build a sawhorse: “This handy helper is great for raising projects off the floor, to make space so you can shove other unfinished projects under it.”
  • Planting a tree: “Nothing beautifies a home more than a gorgeous, sturdy tree that the previous homeowner planted long before you showed up.”

Melding together the whimsical wit of Douglas Adams and the laugh-out-loud narratives of Dave Barry along with a demented dash of “The Red Green Show”, Dan Van Oss delivers a fun if not functional handbook for the hesitant (or hopeless) handyman.

“Dan’s style is like The Best of Dave Barry meets The Best of Dennis Miller.”
“Humor is hard to do and Dan does it extremely well.”

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Wiring and Electrical Basics

There’s nothing quite like the feel of completing a practical, home enhancing electrical project, unless it’s the mind-numbing buzzing you’re still recovering from because you forgot to turn off the breaker to the outlet you were working on again. So be warned; electricity, while providing us with many modern home conveniences such as egg steamers, classic vibrating football games and electric bills, is quite capable of sending you a very specific message, which is, usually, “you were really dumb to touch that.” But not to worry; about 80% of the time, you can fix about 25% of a quarter of most of your electrical problems in less than 15 minutes.

Unclogging a Drain

Occasionally, which in Home Improvement Language means “it will inevitably happen at the most inopportune time”, you will encounter a clogged sink, shower, or bathtub drain. Sometimes this is only a plugged P-trap, but I’m not going to judge you for your personal health issues, and I would also suggest not mentioning such a thing to your friends. Your best friend in these cases is usually a plunger, which probably says a lot about how you choose who to hang around with. In most cases, a little elbow grease can release the clog, although, occasionally a little knee or leg grease may be called for. However, sometimes the clog is just too stubborn, like a two-year-old who won’t eat his lima beans, which, come to think of it, may be what’s clogging your sink. In any case, here are some tips that may help you out of your jam without the use of convenient and helpful chemicals.

Fixing a squeaking door

If you are an average, thriving, well-adjusted member of society, you may have already discovered the advantages that doors have to offer. They keep out the cold and heat, provide security, and are an excellent way to show how angry you are by slamming them. They also, just like your knees after that ill-advised pickup basketball game with the neighborhood high school boys, will show inevitable wear over time. This usually manifests itself in the form of squeaks, and in the time of the middle of the night when you are trying to sneak into the bathroom looking for four Advil to take care of your knee pain. You may already know the standard American method for getting rid of squeaks, which is to use half a can of WD-40 while doing the indecisive Door Dance: open, close, spray, open, close, spray, open, close on your foot, curse, until realizing that the squeak is not coming from the door, but from the floorboard every time you shift your weight when closing the door.

Renting tools

Some projects will require more tool power than what you currently have in your arsenal, which means it’s time to head to the Home Improvement Warehouse to buy more tools! [Wife: No, it’s not.] Okay, then it’s time to head to the local tool rental emporium, where your grizzled tool rental employee is ready to snort at you in disgust because you don’t know what a “harmonic ridge reamer” is, much less where to put it once it’s turned on, much less how to even turn it on. Or where to plug it in. Or that it runs on gas.

Spending money on a tool rental for a home improvement project may seem counterintuitive; do-it-yourself projects are supposed to save money, after all, but keep in mind that it’s not every day you can manufacture an excuse to run a machine capable of not only grinding a tree stump to powder, but impressing your neighbor as well, up until the point you accidentally grind through theunderground electrical lines that power his house.

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