Reading Maze For Book Reviews

Reading for the Young & Old

Shed Men -Gareth Jones

Although the economy is shot to hell, the market in unnecessary books that are just a bit of a laugh, or stocking fillers, has grown tremendously over the past ten years.

Shed Men is not a book that anyone needs. But it’s a lovely book to have, especially for a shed man!

I built a rather lovely shed myself last year and wrote this blog on the rental property’s site blog link, it’s easily good enough go be part of this little volume.

The book was a Christmas present, and the first thing I turned to once the furry of shredding paper had subsided and thoughts were turning to dinner.

It’s a sweet little volume of pictures, with a description of each shed featured, and covers a range from the expected potting shed, pecked husband’s retreat, gentlemen’s drinking club, pool hall (tight on the cushion shots), even a chapel!

Bryan has a huge train set in his, that goes outside as well. James does some fine metal work with children’s toys a favourite, and Dave built his on his allotment with some mates, adding a decked veranda and the vital beer fridge.

All this got me thinking about what else a shed might be used for as an alternative twist – I liked the idea of a brothel, and at the other end of the scale a place for meditation…

My favourite is George’s on Lindisfarne, part upturned boat, part shed.

You’ll see my copy is annotated with a few that I particularly liked. Go buy a copy today for the sheddy in your life.

Deciphering the UK Building Regulations

In the UK, building regulations are amended and updated amazingly frequently, and this can be a minefield for builders and construction workers, whether amateur or professional.

Often lengthy and confusing, the extensive rules for what can and can’t be done in the UK are difficult to read, interpret and remember. So any sort of builder considering any type of building, whether it’s an extension to an existing property, a renovation of an old one or the installation of a garden home office, needs a reliable guide to the building regulations.

Author Ray Tricker (MSc IEng FIET FCIM FIQA FIRSE) is a man who can help. Noticeable by his wealth of experience and qualifications as a building surveyor, he has turned this to advantage by putting together several books aimed at professionals in the construction industry.

A recent publication entitled ‘Building Regulations in Brief’ does exactly what it says on the tin — it is a concise distillation of all those confusing and long-winded  laws that govern a builder’s workday hours.

Not only does the author explain the ins and outs of the building regulations, he outlines ways in which to conform to them in a cost-effective way, thus potentially saving users quite a lot of money when undertaking their projects. In the current economic climate which has proved particularly severe for the construction industry, this aspect of this book should make it a best-seller.

As well as being a good reference guide to the rules, Tricker goes into a little bit of detail about the evolution of them all and why they exist. This makes the whole subject easier for the reader to understand, ingest and remember and is a useful addition to the normal guidebook style. He writes about how councils and local authorities view certain issues in order that the reader can appreciate and take into account the opposing viewpoint and the official stance they will be dealing with.

Building Regulations in Brief

Reading up on bathroom design

Spring heralds a rush of home improvement spending as the lighter evenings and warmer temperatures encourage homeowners to emerge from their winter hibernation and start – or finish – projects around the house.  Throw into the mix the Bank Holidays when people have more time to devote to shopping and working on DIY, and it’s easy to see why it’s a busy time. So the publishing world sees a rash of new releases aimed at this keen market, and one such book is “1001 Ideas for Bathrooms – the Ultimate Sourcebook” by Jerri Farris. Covering everything from layout, bathroom suites, furniture such as cabinets, showers, wet rooms and all the essential accessories, this book is a source of inspiration for anyone looking to upgrade their bathrooms. Not only is browsing such a book a bit of treat – with its glossy stylish room set photos and nice feel – but it will give the reader pause for thought with new ideas and suggestions and will also answer many common queries and dilemmas about layout and design. The author offers plenty of sound practical advice about the optimum layout for efficiency, ideas to remedy a shortage of storage space using bathroom furniture and also describes some technical considerations in a simple way that anyone can grasp. Overall, this book is a comprehensive and very useful start to any bathroom remodelling DIY project and will certainly earn its keep.

Blinds, Curtains and Cushions: Design and Make Stylish Treatments for Your Home

Blinds are a great alternative to curtains, and this book covers all types of window treatment for your home.  Blinds provide a modern, crisp look, and this book is certainly up to date with all the latest trends in window furnishing.  It gives detailed descriptions of the different types of blind that are currently available on the market, as well as advising on how to choose which type of window covering is best suited for your room. It also looks at the range of fittings that are available on the market to give a professional finish to your projects.

There are precise diagrams and detailed instructions for making roller, roll-up and Roman blinds.  In particular, there are a number of different techniques for making Roman blinds and this book explores each of them in detail.

The step-by-step guidance is similarly used in the sections on making curtains and cushions, and all the sections are set out clearly so it is easy for readers to find their way around. The book also includes a guide to measuring your windows, together with a glossary so that readers have the right terminology before they begin. The photographs in the book are of a very high quality and each stage of the process is clearly photographed.

Those who just need a little design inspiration and guidance will thoroughly enjoy adding some character to their home with the ideas in this book.

DIY: Bathroom Tips and Advice

It can be very fulfilling to carry your own DIY or renovation work, but too often overhauling the bathroom is considered to be a project too daunting for non-professionals to tackle.  This handy book helps to dispel the nerves of the DIYer in undertaking bathroom renovations or repairs by breaking individual projects down into easy to follow steps.  While it does advise that major plumbing works should be carried out by professionals, it provides clear instructions for the type of projects that amateur bathroom renovators can successfully complete.

Bathroom flooring options and wall tiling ideas are explored, as well as painting tips, choosing the best kind of lighting, and installing vanity units.  Carrying out bathroom repairs is also well covered in this book.  There are step by step instructions on fixing a leaky tap, combatting water damage and damp, replacing a sink, and repairing chipped or broken tiles.

The book also includes a useful guide to choosing accessories for your bathroom to get the mood you are looking for, and has suggestions for candles, shower curtains, mats and mirrors.

The chapters are clearly laid out in sensible sections, and the book is written in an easy to read yet professional tone.

If you are looking for a great all-round source of information on DIY bathroom renovation and repair, then this book of tips and advice is a wonderful addition to the bookshelf.

Blinds Curtains and Cushions: Design and Make Style Treatments for Your Home

I bought this book the other week and decided to have a good read through with the aim of perhaps making some of my own curtains and blinds.

It was a very interesting book, but I found some of the methods use to create blinds quite complicated and a bit fiddly, plus I found a really good online shop for purchasing made to measure blinds, a company called tuiss does them for a really good price.


I think I’ll still design some cushions – I quite like the thought of creating my own funky cushions to brighten up the room. Hopefully it won’t take me too long to learn how to make them! Anyways, I’ve got to go now, I want to go measure up my lounge windows for some roman blinds.

Beyond Recycling: A Re-Users Guide

Reducing your carbon footprint is a big deal in today’s high-consumption, easy-disposable world. Everyone you speak to is ‘freecycling’ or ‘re-using’, not to mention trying to find new ways to save money by cutting back – times are hard for most of us. Many people are keeping bees, growing fruit and rearing chickens and have gone from spending hundreds of pounds a week on socialising to staying in and making their own wine from a home-grown fruit and a kit that cost a few pounds. People are aware of the impact our excessive lifestyles are having on the environment and are starting to cut-back and recycle.

This book contains loads of really useful ideas on how you can recycle almost anything and save hundreds of pounds in the process. For those items that can’t be recycled easily, Kathy Stein shows you how to re-use them to save even more money.

The clear message here is “consume less, don’t just recycle more”. This 164-page book has 336 environment-friendly, money-saving ideas, from earning cash for mobiles to customizing and altering old clothes, you can learn how to save money whilst saving the planet in the process. Kathy Stein has a technical writing background and her passion for environmental issues is evident in the book; for example, she is a big supporter of the ‘WeCare’ dry-cleaning programme, which replaces those horrible plastic garment covers with re-usable fabric ones.

The book is easy to read with the information presented clearly and alphabetically. If you’re struggling to figure out how to keep old appliances out of landfill, Stein helps you by listing local businesses and non-profit organizations that will re-use, recycle or re-distribute your unwanted items. It’s a useful and comprehensive guide on how to save money sensibly whilst contributing to a sustainable and green lifestyle – highly recommended.

Eco-Refurbishment: A Practical Guide to Creating an Energy Efficient Home

If you’re worried about the energy efficiency of your home this book will help you to make small changes that will improve your carbon footprint and reduce your utility bills.  Over 30% of all CO2 emissions are down to housing and Peter Smith tells us what we can do to change this startling figure. If you’re thinking about starting any home renovations read this first, after all upgrading your property can immediately represent added capital value, so use the opportunity to install adequate insulation from the start – you’re literally throwing money away on wasted energy if you don’t. Simple changes like replacing old, outdated appliances and white goods with new A-rated ones will immediately have an impact.

With the recent introduction of Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) and Home Information Packs (HIPs) the responsibility of the homeowner or landlord has increased. By law you must inform potential buyers or tenants of the current energy efficiency performance of your property so that they can make intelligent and informed decisions on whether to rent or buy. It places increased pressure on owners and landlords to improve the efficiency where possible in order to positively impact the environment. With practical and affordable ideas such as underfloor heating or solar panels there’s something in here for all budgets and circumstances.

There are hundreds of books on building your own eco-home but if you’re not in a position to build your own pad, the next best thing is to refurbish what you’ve got. This book shows exactly what you can do to renovate your current home in an environmentally friendly way, with everything you need in one handy reference guide. It’s an extremely practical text with a useful case study to show us exactly how it’s done.

The Essential Housebook

First published in the 1996, The Essential Housebook is still regarded as a bible for interior design and home style. Almost 15 years after its release the advice in here is as relevant now as it was then.

For advice on decorating and furnishing your home, Terence Conran is the best man for the job. In 1964 he opened the first Habitat shop and his empire includes the Conran Shop, Benchmark Furniture and many restaurants. Heavily involved in architecture and interior design, he was instrumental in the regeneration of the Shad Thames area of London.

The photos in the book are wonderful; Conran has included in here some of the most beautiful rooms and homes in the world. Some of the ideas simply won’t equate to a 3-bed semi in Bradford though so don’t get any grand ideas. As a reference guide it’s the perfect renovation companion but don’t imagine you’ll be able to get the Conran look on a budget – it’s high-end, fat-wallet stuff.

There are five main sections in the book, which discuss major structural work or smaller design improvements. Plus, there’s advice on the best decorating and furnishing options, a checklist of maintenance tips, and an index of useful addresses including advisory bodies, architects, designers, suppliers and shops (note that older versions of this book might be a little outdated now).

If you’re after a minimalist and contemporary look for your home, this is the place to start. You have to admire Conran’s ethos – he knows home design and much of it is simply timeless. Heed his principles and mould the ideas to fit your own space and budget.

Tommy Walsh Outdoor DIY

Produced by probably one of the most recognisable DIY presenters in the UK, TV star Tommy Walsh, his latest guide, “Tommy Walsh Outdoor DIY” is full of practical advice on tackling the home improvement duties on the exterior of your home and in the garden.

Walsh has also turned his hand to interior decorating and building, but it’s out in the elements that he performs to his best strengths. His previous publications, such as “Bathroom DIY” and “DIY Survival”, have covered everything from shower cubicles to electric underfloor heating, but this book will give you all the know how you will need for completing jobs such as constructing patios and decking, repairing brickwork and cleaning drains.

Of course, as well as his impressive expertise it is Walsh’s charming personality that has made him such a favourite on television and in the book he comes across as engaging and considerate to the complete beginner. None of the content is patronising in any way and he knows that his readers will have at least some degree of common sense.

For each job, every step is clearly illustrated and every tool and material is listed, so you can rest assured that all aspects will be covered. This book would be perfectly suited to someone who feels they know a bit about DIY, but is missing out on some of the basics. Though everything is explained concisely, the banal and obvious has been omitted.

“Tommy Walsh Outdoor DIY” is published by Collins, who are renowned for their manuals and tutorial handbooks and is available in paperback. This is easily one of their bestsellers.