Joseph Truini found a unique niche when he decided to write his first book on how to build a backyard storage shed.
He is now working on his third book, devoted entirely to the topic and aptly titled, “Building Sheds,” after his previous book, “Build Like a Pro: Building a Shed,” sold nearly 300,000 copies.
According to Truini, there is no shortage of shed building books currently on the market. So when he decided to take on the subject, he knew he had to find a way to set his books apart from the crowd.
He was able to accomplish this in multiple ways. The most important feature was the overall structure of the books, which include detailed step-by-step instructions accompanied by a wealth of photographs and technical illustrations.
“Every single shed building book I had seen previously was exactly the same, so I wanted to take a decidedly more hands-on approach,” Truini said during a recent interview from his Roxbury home.
He went on to explain that most other shed books include only pictures of the finished product, but don’t show the reader how to actually build a shed, which presents an obvious problem for those without a background in construction.
Unlike many other titles, Truini said that he designed and built each shed specifically for his books. By doing this, he was able to visually show his readers the step by step process, while his words clearly explained each step in sequence.
Larry Dolamore, a reader from North Carolina, used Truini’s second book to construct his own shed several years ago. Prior to that endeavor, Dolamore had never constructed a building, so he put substantial effort into carefully planning out the project.
Before beginning the shed building project, Dolamore had thoroughly researched other options; including purchasing a pre-fabricated version or using plans that were available online, but he wasn’t pleased with the results of his search.
“That led to looking further, and it turned out to be a great thing,” Dolamore said during a recent phone interview from his home. “I’m glad I found the book – who knows what would have happened without it.”
A large part of the appeal of building a custom shed as opposed to purchasing a pre-made structure is the sense of satisfaction in doing it yourself, according to Dolamore, a sentiment that most do-it-yourselfers can likely agree with.
“I’m old school, I wanted to use a hammer and a chisel to build it. I feel the end result is better when you are controlling the quality, as opposed to using a nail gun,” Dolamore explained.
Dolamore said it took him about six months to build his shed. He was very satisfied with the end result, and pleased that he was able to stay within the budget he had set for the project. “I ended up spending what it would have cost to buy a prefab version of lesser quality,” he said.
In this latest book, Truini wanted to offer a diverse variety of options to his readers. In addition to a comprehensive section on building materials and construction methods, the remaining chapters detail how to build five different styles of sheds, including a timber-frame garden shed, a board-and-batten shed, a vinyl-sided storage shed, a cedar-shingle shed and a post-and-beam barn.
Dolamore particularly liked the fact that he was able to “cherry pick” different elements from various sheds within the book – overall design, foundations, windows, siding, roof style, shingles, etc. – in order to build a highly customized structure.
“I liked the variety of options that the author presented,” Dolamore said. “He also demonstrated a sense of quality, of something built to last, in his workmanship. It was important to me to build something sturdy. The cheap ones will be gone in 10 years.”
Don Draper, a reader who posted a review of Truini’s previous book on Amazon’s website, agrees with Dolamore on the book’s representation of high quality building methods and materials.
“The sheds featured in this book are probably built better than most peoples' homes,” Draper wrote. “The author uses only the best materials and methods. If you are turned off by the flimsy tin and home center kit sheds, or if you want a shed that has some character and can be used as an extension of your home, then this book is for you.”
Many of Truini’s readers have raved about the extensive use of images in his books. This is another aspect of the books that Truini feels sets them apart from other similar shed-building manuals.
“The photographs are extremely information-rich, because I’m often the guy behind the camera or behind the tool,” Truini said. “You just can’t get those kinds of photos unless you’re actually on the jobsite.”
Truini prides himself on taking many of his own photographs, but has also worked with a professional photographer for some aspects of his books.
From the perspective of a reader using the book as an instruction manual, Dolamore explained that the photographs made the book extremely valuable.
“I’m handy, but I’m not a contractor,” he said. “With the information provided I felt confident that I could not only build the shed but it would be done well.”
Another distinct feature that Truini offers his readers is a wealth of helpful tricks-of-the-trade, which are placed in sidebars throughout the book. They are called out as either a “Helpful Hint” or a “Tool Tip” and give readers guidance on different aspects of the building process.
“People love them, they can’t get enough of them,” Truini said. “A little tip can stay with you forever.”
Another Amazon review, by reader David Seltzer, acknowledges the usefulness of the tips. “It was like I had a seasoned veteran helping me along the way at every step,” Seltzer wrote. “The books shows you what to do, and even explain the little things you might otherwise have missed.”
One of the most important benefits Truini is able to provide to the first-time builder is his extensive background in the construction trade. His father was a remodeling contractor and gave Truini his first introduction to the industry at the age of 10.
Following his early involvement in the trades, Truini worked in various other building-related positions for many years, including working as a custom cabinet maker and union carpenter, before leaving the industry in 1983 to pursue a writing career. He went on to become an editor at Popular Mechanics magazine and later moved on to become senior editor of Today’s Homeowner magazine for 13 years. He has been a freelance writer with a primary focus on home improvement projects since 2000.
Not one to sit idle, Truini also has another newly released book that is available to those wishing to try their hand at a “do it yourself” home tiling project.
“A Homeowner’s Guide to Tiling,” is Truini’s seventh book and provides the reader with instructions for completing various projects, including building a tile-top console table and constructing a mosaic-glass tile mirror.