"Remodel, Replace, Refund! Your DIY Guide to the 2009-2010 Federal Tax Credit for Homeowners" (CPi / $12.99)
Want a little piece of the stimulus package? You may be entitled to it, if you can increase your home's energy efficiency. This guide shows homeowners which types of improvements qualify, gives step-by-step photos and instructions for doing the projects yourself and explains how to file the paperwork and get your share of the 2009-2010 Federal Tax Credit - to the tune of up to $1,500. Includes advice on heating and cooling, insulation, roofing, windows and water heaters. "Whether you're installing solar panels, replacing inefficient windows or insulating your attic, energy-saving improvements can pay big dividends," the authors write.
"Speed Decorating: A Pro Stager's Tips and Trade Secrets for a Fabulous Home in a Week or Less" (Taunton, $21.95)
Disappoint faultfinding in-laws by quickly making your home interior above reproach. Author Jill Vegas offers room-by-room advice for sprucing up your spaces with projects divided into three categories: "Magic-Wand Makeovers" help you whip a room into shape in less than a day; "Mini Boot Camp" projects can be done in three days; and for those larger undertakings, "Ultimate Boot Camp" promises results in a week. "So choose the room you want to tackle first, pick a deadline and write it in your calendar. Tell a friend or your spouse what you're doing so there's some accountability. Now get going! The clock is ticking," Vegas writes.
"Marie's Home Improvement Guide" (Seal Press, $16.95)
Marie L. Leonard runs her own home improvement business in Westford, Mass., and teaches courses for women on the topic. In this book, she covers all the basics, starting with which tools should be in your toolbox and how to use them. Then she gives easy-to-follow instructions with illustrations for a variety of household projects, from hanging pictures to making bathroom repairs. "No more waiting for a white knight to come riding in on his trusted steed, toolbox in hand; I want you to become your own home improvement hero, so you can feel free to make all the holes in the walls you need to (on purpose or by accident), and so you can relax and have fun with these projects," Leonard writes.
"Home Repair That Pays Off: 150 Simple Ways to Add Value Without Breaking Your Budget" (Adams Media / $14.95)
Author Hector Seda, a construction professional and syndicated home improvement columnist, explains how home maintenance and repair can preserve or increase the value of your property. Although there are some projects that a novice could tackle, there's an unwritten assumption that the reader knows a drill bit from a drywall screw, so beginners might do better with a more detailed primer. "The object is to have the components that make up your home reach full life expectancy without costing you unnecessarily and depleting the equity in your home," writes Seda.
"Home Maintenance for Dummies, 2nd Edition" (Wiley / $21.99)
Known as the Carey Brothers, authors James Carey and Morris Carey Jr. are licensed contractors with a weekly radio program, a syndicated newspaper column and a Web site, all titled "On the House." This guide is organized into a comprehensive reference book, in the same fashion as most "For Dummies" books. "Over time, there will be more little projects than big ones. Our advice: Do the little ones yourself. Most of them are easy to do. You'll save money, your home will look and work better and you'll feel as though you've accomplished something," the brothers write.