Guy Cozzi writes books about houses like yours and mine. His job, besides teaching people how to appraise houses, is appraising them. He's an expert. You and I can learn from Guy Cozzi, even if our goal is not to appraise houses, but just to understand the machine we live in.
Cozzi's books are illustrated with black and white photos that look like they were smuggled out of the former Soviet Union by house appraisal spies at the height of the Cold War. I was sadly reminded of my guest room as I surveyed a photo of an overloaded electrical outlet bursting with spaghetti. But I took some comfort from the tree trunk in the basement photo -- at least my main beams are not supported by a tree trunk, but by, as Cozzi obviously recommends, a "solid, metal support post."
Cozzi suggests jumping vigorously to make sure floors are sound and spot-checking appliances by turning them briefly on -- "just remember to turn them off when you're done -- except for the refrigerator!" This is simple, practical advice. No flowery prose. Just the facts. Regardez: "Every single thing I mention in this book is from actual experiences that I have personally encountered or that I have friends in this business encounter them." Sincere. Pointed. You won't be reading Cozzi for entertainment. But you'll get "every single thing" you need to know about inspecting and improving your home. Including the pitfall of over-improving.
Cozzi knows his stuff regarding finances, too. An appraiser never advises a homeowner or buyer about bank loans. But should you and I need financial advice, it's here in stark b&w.
Be warned - if you get paranoid just thinking about radon gas, asbestos, improperly covered wells and creosote damage, Cozzi will not comfort you. He's been in the trenches of home inspection and it's not funny. It's a world where grown men fall through ceilings, and an honest comment about wood worm can earn you a call from somebody's lawyer.
If you are, in fact, thinking of taking up a career or sideline job as a real estate appraiser, I assure you Cozzi is right there with you every step of the way from basement crawlspace to attic "asbestos heaven." He'll help you design business cards, supply you with sample forms, run through the cost and income approaches to estimating values, depreciation, et al.
Nemmar Publications and Cozzi (are they one in the same?) keep making money with their series on home inspection and appraisal, and if I were seriously thinking of buying or selling, especially an older house, I'd pick up one or more of their books for the straight poop. If you're a buyer, it will show you how to think like a seller, and vice versa. And there's nothing wrong with that.