Author Topic: Where/How to learn about DIY?  (Read 5459 times)

Psychstache

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Where/How to learn about DIY?
« on: February 11, 2013, 07:47:55 PM »
Hello esteemed community,

I am in the process of looking at home and am hoping to buy in the near-ish future. Most of the homes in the neighborhood we are looking at have some level of work (sometimes just cosmetic with a little extra, sometimes they need to be gutted). I am not afraid of getting my hands dirty, there's just one problem: I know essentially nothing about handymanning. (took a 1 semester shop class in middle school and haven't used tools since then).

Where do you begin to learn about how to take care of your home? are there good websites for that? good books?

I am just so unknowledgeable on the subject, that I don't even know what I need to begin to learn. Stupid apartments lettign me get away with laziness.

Thanks for the help!


bogart

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Re: Where/How to learn about DIY?
« Reply #1 on: February 11, 2013, 08:16:33 PM »
I worked (on site, building stuff) for a builder, and that works.  I knew nothing when I started and earned an amount appropriate to that, but learned a lot.  It's been a long time, though, and I now have to refer to the internet and such when I want to remember how to do anything ...

Assuming that's not an option (the "work for" bit, not the "refer to the internet bit!") and depending where you live and what resources are available to you, you could do worse than to volunteer for Habitat for Humanity (or similar).  In my parts if you do this on weekends, you are part of a large crew doing basically grunt work (nailing, painting), but you still get a chance to see a house as it's being put together, which could be useful as a starting point.  Better would be (at least around my home area) if you could volunteer even a few weekdays now and then; here, former professionals (retirees) often go in and put the more expert work (wiring, plumbing, trim carpentry) in on those days, when the site is quieter.  In my experience they're working for fun and enjoy showing fellow volunteers how to do stuff, plus can be a good network to get connected to if, for example, you want reasonably expert advice (or help) on a project.

adam

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Re: Where/How to learn about DIY?
« Reply #2 on: February 12, 2013, 06:24:47 AM »
Try and help out friends and neighbors when they have a project, mostly so you can learn what NOT to do in your own house.  Otherwise, you just kinda need to try things.  I looked at a few websites and a few books but was never really satisfied.  I put 1000 sq ft of laminate flooring in my house 6 months ago and I never really found any book or site that prepared me for it, what I did have was a friend who had done it before and I learned more in the first hour from him than I did in weeks of research.

Emerald

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Re: Where/How to learn about DIY?
« Reply #3 on: February 12, 2013, 06:58:43 AM »
I've volunteered with Habitat for Humanity before.  Also check out home improvement stores.  Home Depot and Lowes both offer free classes, usually on the weekends.

GuitarStv

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Re: Where/How to learn about DIY?
« Reply #4 on: February 12, 2013, 07:28:28 AM »
Experienced friends and family who have done similar work are a great resource, and an extra pair of hands makes many jobs much easier.  Construction isn't rocket science either . . . if you get a decent 'how to' book you can figure out just about anything.

Psychstache

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Re: Where/How to learn about DIY?
« Reply #5 on: February 12, 2013, 08:15:20 AM »
Thanks for all of the advice guys.

@Emerald and  bogart: I like the idea of checking out H4H and looking into classes at stores. Thanks!

@adam: Unfortunately, all of my friends are apartment dwellers or outsourcers when it comes to this type of work.

The only person who would've been a good resource for this type of work would've been my grandfather, but sadly he passed away a few years ago and was in no condition physically for years before that to teach me.

@GuitarStv: Are there any specific books that would be good to start with that you would recommend? Home Improvement for Dummies or something?

DoubleDown

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Re: Where/How to learn about DIY?
« Reply #6 on: February 12, 2013, 08:32:13 AM »
Not a recommendation on where to learn stuff, already plenty of great advice given. But thought I'd share my own recent experience in trying to do more projects myself over the years in case it helps as you start to tackle things.

I'm still a Newb, but I think I've had a fairly irrational concern about getting it perfect the first time when doing a construction job. I was overly worried about messing something up. And it doesn't help when you have a helpful wife looking over your shoulder telling you she doesn't want it to look screwed up, haha. But particularly when you are working on something that's already fubar'ed, it's a relief to know you likely can't make it much worse. I've also learned that because no house is perfect (for example, walls that aren't straight, corners that aren't true), any professional tradesman is going to run into problems and has to make adjustments here and there.

You're not likely to screw up anything. And by buying the materials and doing the work yourself, you can still save money even if you do manage to royally screw things up, all while learning in the process. So don't sweat it like I did, just go for it and if you make a mistake, it's no big deal. You can undo it. Start on smaller things, then work up to bigger jobs. Also for really involved jobs I might hire someone with the stipulation that I will be an assistant and they have to show me what they're doing. And I like the advice about learning on your neighbor's house first. :-)

I always try to do the calculation of my time/effort doing it myself, against the expected outcome and risk of screwing it up. Some jobs require fine finishing work, some don't. Or for plumbing and electrical, as an example, I'm going to leave the extensive jobs to the pros when needed. And you can still save money by buying your own materials for tradesmen to use in many cases. Most cosmetic work and simple repairs you can definitely do yourself, and that covers a lot.

Nords

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Re: Where/How to learn about DIY?
« Reply #7 on: February 12, 2013, 09:43:09 AM »
Are there any specific books that would be good to start with that you would recommend? Home Improvement for Dummies or something?
Over the last 30 years I've brought it down to these four resources.  In our neighborhood, these make me a one-eyed man in the Valley of the Blind.

Family Handyman's website:  http://www.familyhandyman.com/ and their e-mail list (regular small doses of knowledge)
The print magazine is also good for small monthly doses of tool porn knowledge, but order through Amazon ($10/year, auto-renew) instead of putting yourself on FH's direct-mail campaign from hell list.

FixItNow.com, including good prices on appliance parts.  They also accept returns on electronics, which many appliance parts places will not do.  The Samurai Appliance Repair Guru also runs a forum with specific info on brands & model numbers.

"Plumbing" by Rex Cauldwell (http://www.amazon.com/Plumbing-Pros-Rex-Cauldwell/dp/1561588172/ref=sr_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1360686938&sr=1-4&keywords=plumbing+a+house).  Don't be intimidated by the "By Pros for Pros" subtitle-- it's good basic info about how the house's plumbing is supposed to work.  You might not care to replace your water heater, but you'll be able to recognize warning signs and troubleshoot problems without being exploited by repair businesses.

"Wiring a House" by Rex Cauldwell (http://www.amazon.com/Wiring-House-4th-Completely-Revised/dp/1600852610/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1360687068&sr=1-1&keywords=wiring+a+house+by+rex+cauldwell) or its companion "Safe Home Wiring Projects" (http://www.amazon.com/Safe-Home-Wiring-Projects-Cauldwell/dp/156158164X/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1360687111&sr=1-2&keywords=wiring+a+house+by+rex+cauldwell).  Rex writes very well and makes this subject very comprehensible.


Phoebe

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Re: Where/How to learn about DIY?
« Reply #8 on: February 12, 2013, 10:03:19 AM »
http://www.younghouselove.com/

These guys primarily do decorating DIY but also do some larger things like deck building, kitchen remodeling, etc.

Good luck!

thurston howell iv

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Re: Where/How to learn about DIY?
« Reply #9 on: February 12, 2013, 11:44:16 AM »
When we first started out my father gave us a copy of "home depot 123"- some book they sell that glosses over most everything (Before the internet was really useful- to me at least).

Afterward, we watched alot of HGTV to get ideas and see how things were done and even tried part-time jobs at lowes and home depot to get some more exposure.

Finally, it was simply a matter of jumping on google and getting a "project" together.   We're not "experts" or "professionals" by any means but we can and have handled, most all of the basics (plumbing, tile, electrical, flooring, drywall, painting, and minor carpentry.)

The big thing is to not be afraid of it. Plan ahead, make sure you have the proper tools and safety gear and go to it... It you mess up, you'll learn from your mistake.

giggles

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Re: Where/How to learn about DIY?
« Reply #10 on: February 13, 2013, 02:09:40 PM »
This Old House!
www.thisoldhouse.com

adam

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Re: Where/How to learn about DIY?
« Reply #11 on: February 13, 2013, 02:30:00 PM »
The biggest thing I have learned with all my DIY is that nobody gets it perfect.  The professional is the one who knows how to hide his mistakes the best so that you never see them.

Nords

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Re: Where/How to learn about DIY?
« Reply #12 on: February 13, 2013, 08:57:31 PM »
The professional is the one who knows how to hide his mistakes the best so that you never see them.
Until the next renovation...

When we found the six-pack of empty beer cans in the joist bays of our familyroom extension, we suddenly understood why it was built the way it was.

adam

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Re: Where/How to learn about DIY?
« Reply #13 on: February 14, 2013, 12:21:46 PM »
I'm still digging beer cans and rusty nails out of my backyard around the house 7 years after it was built.  I can't wait to go explore the attic.

Spork

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Re: Where/How to learn about DIY?
« Reply #14 on: February 14, 2013, 12:36:38 PM »
I'm still digging beer cans and rusty nails out of my backyard around the house 7 years after it was built.  I can't wait to go explore the attic.

Mine was not too bad.  The guy that did the clean up every day as the house was being built did an awesome job.  But, of course, he gave a crap.  (I was the clean-up crew...  This was a $1000 savings on the house build right at the start!)