When Money's Tight, Expand Your DIY Skills

It can be tough to justify home improvement when economic times are lean. But thanks to countless do it yourself classes, books, and other resources and how-to websites, including Old House Web, there's no reason to put smaller-scale projects on the backburner. Even if you're not the handiest person on the block, tackling DIY projects is easier than ever, if you have the time and inclination to learn what you need to know.  

Do It Yourself: Home Repairs 101
If you've ever taken (or thought about taking) a language or cooking class offered through your local community college or recreation center, you might also consider enrolling in a similar class focused on home maintenance and improvement. Often classified under "continuing education," communities across the nation traditionally offer inexpensive courses on basic home repairs. 

These classes may cover how to: work with basic electrical problems involving switches, outlets, and fixtures, fix leaky faucets, toilet valves, and gaskets, maintain and clean refrigerators, furnaces, and air conditioners, use power tools, identify and use different types of lumber and fasteners, finish and repair drywall, re-glaze windows, as well as basics such as hanging shelves and installing deadbolts, among other things. 

With such practical skills, next time you have a home emergency, instead of reaching for the phone, you can reach for the toolbox. You should be able to fix minor things that are broken and protect and maintain what you have, thereby saving money and reducing stress.

Explore the Online World of DIY
Internet search engines are amazing tools, especially when it comes to home improvement and repairs. Ask a question--any question--and you can instantly receive answers, often including step-by-step instructive photos and video.

Why not benefit from the knowledge and trials and errors of others? This is particularly true for environmentally responsible home remodelers. You can learn how to divert gray water to irrigate your garden or install an inexpensive solar system, without spending thousands of dollars, thanks to information-sharing websites.

Take a look at your do it yourself project list. Maybe you don't need to spend a fortune to hire a professional to insulate your home after all. Now could be a great time to take a class or research a DIY project you've been dying to do but haven't because you didn't want to spend the money. By investing in your DIY skills, you should find that it's an investment that can pay dividends for years to come.  

Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune

About the Author
Mary Butler is a Boulder, Colorado-based writer and editor, who spends much of her free time remodeling an old house.

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