Just Spackle It

My husband and I are not what you would call experts when it comes to home repair. Oh, we’re both good at reading instructions, and can fix things even when we don’t particularly want to, but there are times when my default solution of “lets call a contractor” just isn’t feasible either for financial reasons, or because it would mean corralling the dogs for a long period of time.

We had to repair damaged plaster before we sold our condo, after the shower faucet leaked between the shower wall and our bedroom wall and through the ceiling of the foyer (home warranty covered the fixing of the leak, and restored the ceiling to “rough” condition, but we still had to make it pretty), and we’re facing a similar project with the upstairs hall ceiling (with the added pleasure of having to do it 20 feet up in the air) because of last week’s air conditioning incident, but I know we’ll manage. Most home repairs are not that difficult.

Still I have to admit that I often find myself browsing through the information at Do It Yourself.com, a website full of free forums where you can ask questions like, “How do I measure the inside of a window for shades or blinds” or “exactly what part of my front door am I replacing? Oh, the entire jamb. Fun!” You’ll get answers from contractors and real people alike, and most of them are pretty helpful.

If the answers aren’t enough, they now sell a line of DVDs that teach basic home repair tasks. Think of it as your own personal edition of HomeTime, without the cute acting.

Having lived in houses and condos that ranged in age from 100+ years to five years old, I am always pleased to find Do It Yourself.com addressing all sorts of specific issues. Tongue and groove flooring, and lathe and plaster walls, for example, require completely different techniques than laminate over a cement pad, or stucco and drywall.

I have to confess, though, even though I’m not particularly tool savvy, sometimes I browse the forums just for fun. In my head, I hear the old-guy voices of the contractors, and the younger ones of the people asking questions, and the sort of in-between tones of those who aren’t experts but have had to deal with similar situations.

Also, I learn a lot. And after all, knowledge is power