Reviews in this column do not imply endorsement by The Times of the books.
The Homeowner's Guide to Building With Concrete, Brick and Stone by the Portland Cement Assn. (Rodale Press Books, Emmaus, Pa., 18049, 256 pages, $19.95) is specifically aimed at the do-it-yourselfer. It assumes no prior knowledge of working with concrete and is indeed a concrete "cookbook." More than 100 photos, 83 illustrations and numerous charts help take the guesswork out of masonry work, including bricks and blocks. This is the book for you if you're interested in around-the-yard concrete masonry work.
How to Manage Residential Property for Maximum Cash Flow and Resale Value, 2nd Edition by John T. Reed (Reed Publishing, 342 Bryan Drive, Danville, Calif. 94526; $21.95, 308 pages) updates the original version to address recent changes in the tax law and the renewed emphasis on properties that have positive cash flow. The author focuses on multiple-unit dwellings, not single-family homes. Reed, author of several other books and a popular newsletter, writes in an entertaining fashion while providing sound advice for big and small investors alike.
Selling Real Estate ... How To Succeed In The Real World by Phil Hoover (Word Gets Around, Dept. NR-2, Box 1058, Roseville, Calif. 95661-1058, $14.95 plus 6% sales tax, 189 pages, indexed) is aimed at those who already are real estate salespeople and those who are contemplating a career in real estate sales. Hoover, 45, a Sacramento-area realtor, talks about the advantages and disadvantages of selling real estate, and even describes his own "stress breakdowns" in great detail. Stress is a part of realty sales--a field that appeals to Type-A people who find it difficult to slow down until a heart attack does the job for them. The relatively unstructured nature of the business could be both an advantage and disadvantage, depending on one's personality characteristics. Hoover uses plain English to describe such real estate activities as farming and floor time. This is a good introduction to a job field that continues to attract many entrants who seem to thrive on long hours and frustration--punctuated by the joys of a successful closing.
Built by Japan by Fumio Hasegawa and the Shimuzu Group FS (John Wiley & Sons, New York, $24.95, translated by Yoshinori Oiwa) is the English translation of a Japanese best-seller describing the rise of Japan's giant construction companies. Shimuzu Ltd., which provided a team that collaborated with Hasegawa to produce this work, is the biggest Japanese construction firm, or zenecon . Other zenecons that might be familiar to Californians include Kajima Corp., Taisei Corp., Takenaka Corp., and Ohbayashi Corp., together with Shimuzu the so-called "Big Five." (The recent addition of Kumagai Gumi makes it the "Big Six.") This book traces the history of Japan's giant builders, from the Edo Period in the 17th Century, to the slump of the mid-1970s to mid-1980s., to the current boom fueled by such domestic Japanese projects as the new Kansai Airport, undersea tunnels, new highways and other public works projects. American contractors, among others, have complained about how they are excluded from working in Japan's huge domestic market, while Japanese firms enjoy the benefits of working in world markets, including the U.S. (Ohbayashi is a major contractor on the L.A. Metro Rail system). General readers might find all this boring, but American contractors, engineers and architects certainly won't--or shouldn't.
The Total Real Estate Tax Planner by Martin M. Shenkman (John Wiley & Sons Inc., 605 3rd Ave., New York, N.Y. 10158; 222 pages, $12.95) provides answers to hundreds of tax questions involving homeowners and investors in rental property. Its question-and-answer format gets stale after the first few pages, but it's packed with much useful information.