When we tell people we’ve done the majority of the work on our house ourselves, they always ask, “How did you learn to do that stuff?”. First, I’m no expert on home repair by any means, but I grew up in a home that was under constant renovation all at the hands of my dad who is not a professional handyman. His theory was always, “if someone can do it, I can do it!,” and he worked at any needed projects until he figured it out. I picked up a lot of how-to from helping my dad on projects at the house I grew up in (running new electrical, roofing, and even finishing trim), but more importantly, I got from him that same attitude: “if it needs to be done, I’ll figure it out!”
And that’s pretty much what I do: figure it out! Figure it out, that is, with a lot of help from these favorite go-to sources:
1. Home Improvement 1-2-3
This little book from The Home Depot is my number one source for all things home improvement. It’s not an in-depth manual, by any means, and is no substitute for expert advice on many projects, but its broad subject range and step-by-step instructions make it the first place I turn when starting most new household projects. And, you can pick up an older version of this book on places like Amazon or Half.com for under a buck!
2. This Old House
This Old House is really a tie for first when it comes to sources for DIY projects. Both the print magazine version (which we’ve subscribed to for a couple of years) and the website are always handy for detailed and clear instructions on most any home renovation or improvement project. I’ve used this for help on building our patio, painting the floor, and installing beadboard in our kitchen, among other things. I highly recommend bookmarking this site.
3. Ron Hazelton’s HouseCalls
Another really great home improvement website that I find myself resourcing all the time. With everything from Doors & Windows (which we’ve done a lot of in this house) to Kitchens to Outdoor projects, this site will have your projects covered. And, HouseCalls has a ton of videos showing Ron actually doing the work, which for me is extremely helpful.
4. You Tube
Not a DIY site exclusively, of course, and maybe a strange pick, but you’d be surprised by the wealth of home improvement knowledge that can be gleaned from You Tube. Here’s a small sampling of some of the projects you can tackle with a little video assistance from the many users of You Tube: install a carpet runner on stairs, add a skylight, replace a bathroom sink and faucet, even refinish your hardwood floors. Seriously, just go to You Tube, search for whatever project you’re tackling, and be amazed at the step-by-step video instructions you’ll find.
Lame, I know, but if I were to list every blog I’ve used in home improvement projects, I’d need an entirely new blog just for that and a whole lot of time to recall them all. There’s a slew of home improvement blogs out there, many of which after they tackle a project are more than happy to share with readers exactly how they did it. Some our favorites are Young House Love, which has a whole “How To” tab with a lot of info on projects they’ve done around their house; Little Green Notebook if not for the mini blind/roman shade project alone; and Houseblogs.net, which is a community of home improvement blogs with great DIY advice and inspiration.
So, that’s about it. Any glaring holes I left? What are other favorite DIY and home improvement resources?