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Save money by learning home repair

Home Depot, Web sites offer lessons

By Teresa Mears Sep 14, 2009 5:29PM

When we were growing up, no one ever called a handyman. If anything needed fixing, you fixed it yourself. Our father, who was an ad man (but not like the ones in "Mad Men"), built a bedroom and bathroom in the basement following instructions in books he got at the library. We got a toolbox to take to college.

 

Doing your own home repairs is a great way to save money. Not only can you check out books at the library, but you can look up nearly any home repair project online and get detailed directions and watch instructional videos. Plus, keeping up with regular home maintenance is one way to avoid expensive problems later.

 

As The New York Times reported recently, Home Depot and Lowe's have reported an increase in homeowners doing their own repairs. The stores say they have responded by increasing staff in popular DIY departments, a move we definitely support. We've found great help and no help in past visits.

 

The stores also are reporting a big increase in interest in their free workshops, a great way to learn how to do home repair and improvement tasks. Home Depot offers free weekly workshops and clinics on such topics as tiling a room and changing a faucet. The store knows that real women use power drills, and they have a special series of quarterly workshops for women, called Do-It-Herself. If you enter your e-mail address, you can join the free online Home Improver Club and get access to workshop schedules and online tutorials.

 

Lowe's offers workshops for children through its Build and Grow clinics and has online video tutorials on such topics as how to build a deck. In some cities, the chain also offers free workshops for adults.

 

Not only do real women use power drills, they can build up a whole tool kit and do many of their own repairs, says Woman's Divorce, which provides a list of tools and good sites to find advice. Our not-so-handy brother could use this, too.

Free online sources of good tutorials, including videos, abound. A few to start with are DIY-HQ, Jim's Home Repair Stuff and HandyMan Teacher. Do an online search for your task and see what else you find.

 

HGTV offers how-to videos and step-by-step instructions by hosts of several popular remodeling shows, such as "Carter Can" and "Don't Sweat It," plus a message board. "This Old House" has an extensive collection of online how-to videos.

Life or Debt blog from Money Talks News lists five easy home repairs that will save you money with links to the Wikihow pages for each repair, another good source of DIY information.

 

We're no home repair maven, but we've applied an Allen wrench to a balky garbage disposal, changed the insides of the toilet, painted rooms, caulked the bathtub, stripped wood furniture and used a plunger to unclog the sink. If your air conditioner stops working, we advise hitting the re-set button on the thermostat BEFORE calling the company that installed the system and will charge $90 to hit it for you. We've all learned a few lessons the hard way.

 

What are some of your favorite sources of advice and help with home repair projects?

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