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The Virgin Homeowner: The Essential Guide to Owning, Maintaining, and Surviving Your Home by Janice Papolos The Virgin Homeowner: The Essential Guide to Owning, Maintaining, and Surviving Your Home
by Janice Papolos

Paperback: 444 pages ; Dimensions (in inches): 0.98 x 7.99 x 5.34
Publisher: Penguin USA (Paper); (March 1999)
ISBN: 0140274766

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Amazon.com: 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

Book Description: 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.

Ingram: An authoritative introduction to the mysteries of homeownership offers timely and witty advice on such topics as the mysteries of plumbing and electrical systems, how to cope with termites and burglars, childproofing a home, and more.

Card catalog description: Few experiences in life are more unnerving than moving into your first home. All at once you and you alone are responsible - not the landlord, the super, or the co-op board. Not only do you have to keep all systems in working order, but you have to keep potential disasters at bay. Where is a rookie homeowner to turn? To Janice Papolos and The Virgin Homeowner - a clear, authoritative, and entertaining initiation into the arcane new world of home ownership - and the only book written exclusively with the first-timer in mind. Virgin homeowners will learn all the ins and outs of such previously obscure and/or scary subjects as fire safety; the need for proper ventilation; and radon, lead, and other threats to a healthy house. In a warm and penetrating closing chapter, "Finally Home," Papolos addresses the emotional aspects of putting down roots in a new community.

Customer Reviews
Stop reading this review and just buy the book!, June 6, 2002
Reviewer: Olivia Smith from Bay Area, CA
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. It gave me the right information I needed to understand how the major systems in my home should work, and how to look for systems that don't. Her narrative yet explanatory style enables even a clueless person like me to now have a working understanding of how the plumbing, electircal, and heating systems of my house work. This book is a joy to read, and you will thank your stars you did just that. This book will not replace how to manuals for people who are looking to do much home repair... but it will give you the information you need to even understand what you should and should not do yourself. If you buy the book before you have your home inspection, I highly suggest reading the first few chapters beforehand.

essential reference guide, May 23, 2001
Reviewer: msinghk from Delaware USA
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 in my new home, this book described the inner workings of the house in a simple, logical manner. The only misadvice Janice gave is that the pre-drywall home inspection should really be a pre-insulation inspection.

So that's what that is..., October 17, 2000
Reviewer: Kimberly from Atlanta, GA USA
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. This isn't a home maintenance how-to book, though, so this is a very minor criticism.

I bought copies of this book for each of my three new homeowning siblings. I hope it helps them come to appreciate their houses the way I have mine.

What a lifesaver!, August 22, 2000
Reviewer: Liza from Pekin, IL USA
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. It gives wonderful advice about how to go through the final processes of buying a house, what to do and what NOT to do! Plus the author gives personal accounts of mistakes SHE made and how to avoid them. We're now a year into our home and I still use to book whenever I hear a mysterious clunk in the basement or find a leak in the kitchen... it's full of information, easy for the everyday person to understand, and full of very useful advice!

Book nothing like title suggests..., August 14, 2000
Reviewer: A reader from San Jose, CA USA
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 maintain one. It's written as if you know absolutely nothing about a house, since the author apparently never saw one before she bought hers. She does an ok job of describing the 'systems' within a house, if you can stand the New York attitude that comes with it, but if you are trying to learn how to maintian your house, you'll be very dissapointed. What's more, she covers only those things associated with owning a house in the northeast, she never mentions the special needs of a home in California, and very little for Florida - two states with very demanding needs for homeowners. And what's most disappointing, is that her solution to maintaining a home is "call a contractor", preferrably one from the local country club.

A Practical, Comprehensive Guide For Homebuyers, July 27, 2000
Reviewer: Michael Lima from Fresno, California USA
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.

Great reference book for first time home owners!, June 20, 2000
Reviewer: A reader from Marlboro, MA
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! If you are on your way to owning a home, do yourself a huge favor and get this book. Janice Papolos makes the whole "what a home really consists of" learning experience painless and interesting! Now i can go back to my builder and converse intelligently. This book is not only priceless in it's information content but it's also a great read! I shall always treasure my copy.

Home Mysteries revealed, June 12, 2000
Reviewer: A reader from Orland Park, Illinois
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. This will help to educate you on what to look for and pay attention to in a home. This is NOT a "How to Fix It" refrence book. It's more of a "How it Works" book. It explains the how's and why's of most houses. This will help you figure out what preventative maintenance to do annualy. It will also give you the education you need before speaking with costly repair companies. It's an easy reading book that's written well considering how dry the subjects can be.

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The Virgin Homeowner: The Essential Guide to Owning, Maintaining, and Surviving Your Home
by Janice Papolos
Paperback: 444 pages ; Dimensions (in inches): 0.98 x 7.99 x 5.34
Publisher: Penguin USA (Paper); (March 1999)
ISBN: 0140274766

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