Web helps you with DIY projects


Published: Monday, May 1, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, April 30, 2006 at 11:13 p.m.
It's spring, a time when many homeowners start thinking about home-improvement projects.
With hardware and do-it-yourself superstores in nearly every community and the escalating costs of hiring contractors and service people to do jobs, it's a certainty that you'll save money if you can do projects around the house yourself. And it's never been easier to do these projects. People who have no skill or experience are finding that projects are simplified with the products and project information available these days.
The only question is: Where do you find out how to do it?
More and more people are turning to the World Wide Web for information on home projects that range from installing a sink drain to building a deck. Many Web sites not only offer explicit instructions, but also provide online help from experts, discussion groups and even links to commercial sites where you can find out about, and even purchase, the tools and supplies you need to complete a project.
In short, these sites, unlike books and videos, are interactive and can add measurably to the success of any project.
By far, one of the oldest and best do-it-yourself sites is DoItYourself.com at http://www.doityourself.com. Whether you want to build or remodel, repair or fix it, decorate, or landscape your yard, you can find help on this site.
There are step-by-step instructions from experts, a section on video how-to's and how-to books. You'll find an estimator-calculator. If you finally give up and need a contractor, there's a section that lists contractors, as well.
Perhaps the best part of this Web site is the section of community forums where folks trade do-it-yourself ideas and tips. This is the place for the aforementioned interactivity. These forums not only provide emotional support for projects that can appear to be overwhelming, they offer advice from folks who are knowledgeable about home improvement.
The folks at eHow prefer to call do-it-yourself "how to." And at its site at http://www.ehow.com, you'll find plenty of specific project instructions. It features 20 centers with 120 subcategories with thousands of staff-written, reviewed and edited step-by-step project solutions - how to change oil in a car, how to make Cajun hot sauce, how to negotiate a raise, and even how to throw a knuckleball.
When it comes to projects around the house, eHow offers printable shopping lists of materials needed as well as links and directions to online shopping sites where users can order the goods and services needed to complete the task. As with DoItYourself.com, there's a community of users who share tips and tricks.
Bob's Weekend Handyman at http://www.weekendhandyman.com offers help in specific project areas that include plumbing, electrical, gardening, house repairs, painting, appliance repair, landscaping wallpaper, cleaning and more.
If none of these sites are what you're looking for, try Refdesk. It's a Web site that lists, among other things, do-it-yourself resources on the Web -- everything from pace to find out how to do home appliance repair to how to remodel an old house. You'll find the list of sites at http://www.refdesk.com/doitself.html.
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