When you buy a washing machine, a VCR, or a new car, you get an owner's manual. Buy a house, and you get a telephone call saying that the key is under the rock by the back door. In fact, you get more in the way of instruction with a $5 calculator than you do with a new $500,000 home. In a time when so much information is easily exchanged among people all over the world, it amazes me that so few people seem to give this out-of-balance situation any thought.

I began providing my customers with an owner's manual about eight years ago, after hearing another builder speak about it at a conference. I build an average of four or five custom homes a year, and with several dozen manuals under my belt, I've learned how to assemble a useful and good-looking one with relatively little effort. The rewards far...

or Register to read the full article.