Home Improvement Classes a Good Way to Spend Your Spare Time

Winter is coming! Just like spring cleaning, every homeowner should do a few simple tasks in late fall to prepare their home for the St. Louis winter. These tips and tricks can save you time, trouble and money. No senior discount.

Another great way to get hands-on experience with home improvement projects is to volunteer at your local Habitat for Humanity, or any other home-building project in your area. In some cases, you’ll find yourself building a home from the foundation up, other times you’ll be inside the house, roughing out the interior or putting the finishing touches on the kitchen, bathroom, or bedrooms. If you make it a bit of a regular thing, you’ll accomplish two goals: You’ll do something good for your community, and you’ll learn home improvement skills you can put to good use when you get home.

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For more in depth instruction than a home fair might provide, check out your community adult enrichment program. Ours has a 3 part course on home improvement for women or further instruction about dry walling or electrical work.

Home Improvement What To Do First

Many home improvement stores like Home Depot, Lowes, and Menards all have free classes that give you the basic information about various projects. My spouse went to a tiling class at Home Depot and found the information to be good for beginners just starting new projects.

The fastest way to get some hands-on experience with the tools and projects you may want to do in your own home is to do the work in someone else’s. If you have friends or family tackling their own home improvement projects, they’re likely looking for help. You’ll have the opportunity to go hands-on with the tools you want to learn, and the projects you want to know how to do—and ideally you’ll be able to learn from someone who knows how to use those tools and already has a plan for the project that you want to tackle. After all, your friend needs help with their project, and you need some experience doing home improvement work, so it’s a win-win.

Home Improvement Ideas

Remember, part of owning a home is being responsible for it. There are just some repairs and projects you shouldn’t tackle without the right tools, know-how, or manpower. If you’re in over your head, admit it and get outside help. You don’t want to wind up hurting yourself, seriously damaging your home, or wasting a ton of money on a half-assed repair or improvement that should have been done properly the first time. Like we mentioned above, you can always hire someone willing to let you shadow them or help out a bit, and see how it should be done, take your lumps, and get it right next time.

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Dear Recovering Renter, Congratulations on your new home! It can be daunting to move into your new home with the understanding that it’s really yours, as in, you’re responsible for not just its maintenance and upkeep, but you can do whatever you want with it as well. The flip side of that though is that if you’ve been renting your whole life, the broadest extent of your home improvement experience may be watching HGTV and whatever you could do in your rental without risking the ire of your landlord.

Most hardware stores, especially large national chains like Home Depot and Lowe’s, both host classes and workshops designed to help new homeowners get comfortable with doing their own work around the house, making their own improvements, and fixing their own problems without spending a ton of money on contractors or specialists. For example, Home Depot’s weekly workshops will show you how to do things like install decorative moulding, install tile flooring, properly paint interior walls, and more—all things you may never have had to do as a renter.

While the internet has a wealth of information (see 9 and 10 below), books are still the best non-hands-on source of DIY home repair knowledge. If I’m looking for information about a particular project, I’ll search Amazon.com for reviews of the best books related to that topic and then check them out from my library.

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Don’t worry, there are plenty of ways to get the skills you need to properly maintain your new home, and even tackle those upgrades and improvements you have on your list. Let’s talk about where you can go to learn some new skills.

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Volunteering with Habitat for Humanity or a similar program is one of the best ways to get training in home construction and repair. I volunteered with a program with my church and learned everything I needed to know about how to use a crowbar. The next week I was tearing out hideous wooden paneling in my basement like a pro.

But there were a lot of more difficult, but not impossible, projects that needed to be done. Replacing garage siding or installing lights in a ceiling fan were things that we had never done before and no one in our immediate family or group of friends knew how to do.

What’s Home Improvement

For some home repair projects, you may want to hire a contractor. Come find out from our home repair specialist what you need to know to get that right. There are so many factors that influence your decisions: Is the job primarily repair, remodeling or new construction? Do you need a specialized contractor or general contractor and where do subcontractors fit into the picture? What’s your timeline, budget, who’s responsible for the materials and determines the logistics of the project? Don’t forget the paperwork, and oh yes: the clean-up! Join us and bring your questions. No senior discount.

Our experienced handyperson will show you how to measure, cut, and hang drywall. You’ll learn how to prep the room prior to installing the 2×4 framing, including proper layout. Instruction will include cut-to-size with minimal drywall seams and cut out for electric boxes. Also learn how to apply seam tape (both paper tape and self-stick mesh tape) and mud (joint compound). If you have a drywall project in your future, get to this class before getting started. No senior discount.

Of course, the classes at your local hardware store aren’t enough to really prep you to be a professional by any means. The classes are too short, and the instructions too vague. However, they are a good starting point for further research, and there’s plenty of additional information available online as well. Lowe’s has a how-to project center with walkthroughs for common household projects, as does Home Depot.

You’ll really pick up the skills you’re looking for if you become a regular though, and volunteer on those down-days when there aren’t big groups mulling about. If there’s anything I learned working on a Habitat site, it’s that work slows down when there’s a big volunteer group around—the vets have to stop actual work to give out assignments and show people how to do things safely. That’s a good thing for you, since you need to learn. Once you have the basics down though, your visits will be more productive and informative, so don’t give up! Keep going back—you’ll learn more every time.

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House flipping is all the rage these days, but there is a lot to consider before jumping on the bandwagon. If you are considering flipping a house for yourself or as a career come to this class to find out the nuts and bolts. No senior discount.

Our library also has some great DVDs on various home improvement projects. And HGTV is always fun to watch for inspiration. (It also serves as a warning of what can go wrong if you don’t know what you’re doing.)

Big box home improvement stores have good prices and great variety. But no one knows more about the home repair challenges of old craftsman bungalow homes than the owner of my local hardware store. I always walk out of there with exactly what I need for my weekend project.

Of course, not every handyman wants to do that—some will try to wave you away because you’re slowing them down, others will conveniently withhold information so you wind up needing them anyway. Expect some of that, and when you interview your prospective handyman or check up on your future contractor, make it clear that you want this to be a learning exercise for you—that as long as it’s safe and practical, you’ll want to help out. Explain you don’t want to just to speed things up, you also want to learn, and you want to know how to properly repair the work in the future. If the person you’re interviewing has a problem with that, look elsewhere.

A series of events helped me realize that home improvement was perhaps something I could tackle — all I needed was a little training. And, it turns out there are numerous ways to get home improvement advice and training. Now, a year and a good amount of training later, I enjoy spending a weekend working around the house. Here are 10 free options for DIY home improvement advice and training

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