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Virgin Homeowner [Paperback]

Janice Papolos
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)

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Paperback, March 1 1999 --  
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Book Description

March 1 1999
The Virgin Homeowner is Janice Papolos's answer to the house buyer's blues. Using her own experience, Papolos initiates readers into all the workings of a house. She moves from the initial terror of home inspection to the mysteries of plumbing and electricity, stopping at all points along the way--including septic systems, roofing problems, insect infestations, environmental issues, childproofing, ventilation, and fire safety. In addition, Papolos offers clear instructions on how to handle minor household repairs and helps the new homeowner to understand the quirky vocabulary essential for having an intelligent conversation with a repair person or contractor. Best of all, The Virgin Homeowner provides readers with the confidence and piece of mind they need to make owning a home more of a dream and less of a nightmare.


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Janice Papolos describes her own first-home experience this way: "Part of the problem was that I had a mystified awe of the house. I swear there were times when I viewed it as more intelligent and powerful than we were.... There was a time or two in which I felt the house was being downright vindictive."

Ranked as "Most Useful to Homeowners" by The Wall Street Journal, Papolos's humorous and helpful book is the definitive guide for the first-time homeowner. Few experiences in life are more intimidating and complicated than one's first home purchase, especially when the new homeowner is perhaps a bit inexperienced with home repair and maintenance, as many (if not most) are. Starting with the basics of what you need to know to make sense of the initial, prepurchase home inspection, Papolos heads right into the "Inner Mysteries"--the plumbing and electrical systems--then on to heating and cooling, septic systems, insects and other pests, security concerns and measures, proper ventilation, child-proofing, and much, much more, topping it all off with an annual calendar of seasonal maintenance, advice on paint colors, and a thorough index for easy reference.

The goal is to remove the intimidation for the homeowner, and at the very least, permit him or her to talk knowledgeably with home-repair professionals, as necessary, without coming across like an idiot. This is a great reference book for any new homeowner, and probably would open the eyes of many longtime homeowners, as well. --Mark A. Hetts

From Library Journal

While some readers may not like her title, Papolos has produced an excellent owners' manual for the first-time homeowner. After buying her first house, Papolos realized that there were many things she should have done differently or instances when she should have paid more attention to experts. By writing this book, she is giving the reader the opportunity to learn from her mistakes. Beginning with how to get the most out of the initial home inspection, Papolos takes the reader through a house, describing each system, its quirks, and its potential problems. Later, she covers pest control, security, and safety. This highly readable book will prove useful to both new homeowners and those just thinking of making a purchase, and veteran homeowners will undoubtedly learn something, too. Recommended for all public libraries.?Jonathan N. Hershey, Akron-Summit Cty. P.L., Ohio
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Early one cool, misty morning in April, we took the elevator to the lobby of our New York City apartment building to meet our contractor and one of our good friends. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Wished I'd had this book when I began househunting! April 28 2003
Format:Paperback
This book is a WONDERFUL reference tool for those new to the home-buying process. It gives a very detailed, yet highly comprehensible account of how your house works, things to think about when entering into your new relationship with a home...it really does an excellent job of covering alot of bases. It can seem overwhelming, but really, this book is broken down so at least you feel like you have a good understanding of all the issues home ownership brings to the table.
Probably the most useful portion I found a little too late was the chapter on home inspection. I really wish I had this book when I was going through the inspection process. It gave a lot of insight as to the processes, questions to ask, etc. I realize I got very lucky with my inspection, but next time, I'm telling you I will have that portion memorized!
The only part I found not useful were the sections meant more for rural housing. Being on a city sewer, electricity, etc., she gave a lot of detail into septic systems, oil heating, etc., that had no application for me with this house. But again, if I look at buying a property not accessed by many modern or city services, I will have a good foundation for knowledge.
Really, you just can't go wrong in purchasing this book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars So that's what that is... Oct. 17 2000
Format:Paperback
This book is not a how-to fixit book, and thank goodness. I'd read a dozen of those and I still didn't understand how my furnace (or anything else) works. Then I read Papalos' book and finally I understand. My house is no longer a scary mystery to me. I came across this book after I had already been in my first house for a number of years. I don't know if I would have bought a different house had I been armed with the knowledge from this book, but I surely would have handled my new ownership differently.
One of the best aspects of this book is its conversational, humorous style. As a virgin homeowner I repeatedly felt embarrassed or frustrated because I couldn't speak knowledgably to repairmen or home improvement store people. Papalos has been there, too, I think, and her humor encouraged me that I "wasn't alone." Finding myself chuckling as I read about plumbing traps and sacrificial anodes was certainly refreshing.
The descriptions are straightforward in ordinary language, and the terms and jargons are demystified. Since some house systems vary with geography and house age, Papalos did her research and addressed all the systems (forced air, gas, electric, oil, heat pump, *and* baseboard heat, for example). I disagree with another reviewer that this book applies only to a northeastern homeowner; I thought it was quite thorough in addressing the variations.
I also like her "systems" approach to explaining the house (plumbing, electrical, heating and cooling, etc.) and how she addresses issues beyond physical construction of the house, such as pest control (termite picnics). She alerts the reader about some important maintenance tasks, though there is more of this kind of information for some topics than others.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Practical, Comprehensive Guide For Homebuyers July 27 2000
Format:Paperback
As someone going through the process of buying a home for the first time, I've been stressing about overlooking something that will later cost me a lot of money. After reading The Virgin Homeowner, I'm no longer stressing. This book presents a comprehensive look at all the various features in a house that could present problems to the new homeowner. While it doesn't give detailed solutions, it does provide valuable information that enables the homeowner to understand the problem in order to begin the process of fixing it in the most effective manner.
The best aspect of The Virgin Homeowner is that it is written in a tone that evokes an image of a friend sharing information. This book is not a dry "how-to" manual. It is obviously the product of first hand mistakes, triumphs, and research. The tone in which it is presented not only makes it very easy to understand, it also gives it a realistic credibility that only life experiences can impart.
I'm sure that The Virgin Homeowner will give other readers the same sense of confidence that I didn't have before I read it. Frankly, I can't think of a higher compliment for any type of guidebook. But, this one is worth the accolade. This book should be read by all first time homebuyers either before or immediately after a home purchase.
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By A Customer
Format:Paperback
If you're busy--like everyone--but you want to take the purchase and upkeep of your new home (first home or otherwise) seriously, this book is a must read. It reads quickly and efficiently and yet packs your head with much needed big picture and detail work to consider when buying, upgrading or maintaining your house. Read this book and stand confidently before contractors and other estimators--knowing their language, the terms, dimensions and practice of home repair. Protect yourself from getting gouged. Ensure that the work done for you is done properly. You could even do some of the work yourself after learnging how. Regardless, you're sure to establish solid ground between you and the serviceman or company your about to hire when you let them know that you know exactly how certain functions and systems in your home work. No longer stand bewildered when the toilet lid or sump pump in the basement goes down (before reading this book I didn't even know what a sump pump was or how important it was to the integrity of my home). In sum, you must buy this wonderful collection of information on home ownership. It beats most other guides, hands down.
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Most recent customer reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Not very helpful at all
My husband and I recently bought our first home, so I ordered this book in the hopes that it would give us helpful details on how to maintain it, make minor repairs, and accurately... Read more
Published on Oct. 21 2003 by Tigger
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a great gift for a first-time homebuyer
I am a Realtor, and find that this is the perfect gift for a young couple purchasing their first home. Read more
Published on June 18 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars Stop reading this review and just buy the book!
This book could also be titled, "How Not to Look Like An Idiot At Your Home Inspection." I am in escrow on my first house, and read much of this book prior to my home inspection. Read more
Published on June 6 2002 by Olivia Louise Smith
4.0 out of 5 stars essential reference guide
I am currently building a house with a well-known national builder. While my construction company couldn't be bothered to indicate what types of systems they would be installing... Read more
Published on May 23 2001 by M. Singh
1.0 out of 5 stars Not for owners of Newer Homes
DO NOT BUY THIS BOOK - unless you just bought an older home in the Northeast, since that's all this book covers. Read more
Published on April 2 2001 by "mpfreedman"
1.0 out of 5 stars not what I expected
I bought this book hoping it would help me to understand and fix the minor repairs my new home needed (and it needs a lot). To be honest, it was useless. Read more
Published on Oct. 13 2000
5.0 out of 5 stars What a lifesaver!
My husband and I are the epitome of the "virgin homeowners", and I'm so glad we bought this book even before we were really started looking for a house. Read more
Published on Aug. 22 2000 by L. Hickey
2.0 out of 5 stars Book nothing like title suggests...
This book should have been titled something like 'How Does Everything Work In Your House", because it does very little toward letting you know what you have to do to... Read more
Published on Aug. 14 2000
5.0 out of 5 stars Great reference book for first time home owners!
I read the reviews for this book on amazon.com and went ahead and bought myself a copy. It's worth every penny I paid for it! Read more
Published on June 20 2000
4.0 out of 5 stars Home Mysteries revealed
This book is a must have for any first time home owner--a great gift as someone else recommended. Good to read during your home search as well. Read more
Published on June 12 2000
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