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Have repair needs? DIY

Looking for ways to save money around the house? Do it yourself. You don't know how? Then learn. (And no whining.) That's author Erin Bried's message in How To Sew a Button And Other Nifty Things Your Grandmother Knew: A Money-Saving, Heartwarming, Life-Simplifying Guide. After years of hiring others to do even simple repairs, the Manhattan journalist needed guidance in the ways of self-sufficiency and saving. • She turned to experts — older women who had survived much tougher times than these — for the answers. Their no-nonsense advice encouraged her to roll up her sleeves and get to work. Hartford (Conn.) Courant

"You don't pay people to do things for you. You save your money. We learned that early on. If something broke, we fixed it. We didn't run out and buy something new then, and we don't now. That's how we raised our kids and that's still how we live."

Grandmother Fortunato

These days, more and more people are looking to adopt those thrifty ways.

Prices of goods and services are up; the amount of money most of us have to spend is down. Knowing how to handle even a few basic repairs can save substantial bucks, says Karol Nickell, editor in chief of Fresh Home, a magazine that specializes in "easy ideas for hands-on people."

But while saving money on home improvements sounds appealing, tackling that first project can be intimidating, Nickell says. Luckily, the how-to is more available than ever before.

Take a class

In response to the growing demand from perspective DIY-ers, building supply outlets, paint shops, fabric stores and continuing education centers are offering advanced how-to classes on topics ranging from upholstering and painting to plumbing and siding. HGTV, Fine Living Network and DIY Network feature do-it-yourself shows and Web sites filled with home repair solutions and home improvement projects.

Magazines, including Fresh Home, This Old House, Handy and Old House Journal, cover home improvement, remodeling, upgrades, tools and more. Smartphone apps — iHandy Carpenter, Handyman Sidekick and Home Improvement Calculator, available at the Apple store — help you estimate project materials and costs, as well as convert measuring units (centimeters to inches, etc.), and put levels, rulers and other tools at your fingertips.

Free online resources

Before calling repair services, consumers can check out free resources online. offers info on how to do appliance repairs on your own., and list clear, easy-to-understand instructions for all types of projects. Most major appliance manufacturers post manuals and troubleshooting tips on their Web sites.

You can even fix your own computer or car. At, close to a half-million users offer solutions to technology questions. Computer techies hang out at and provide fixes for error messages, recalls and updates. How-to videos and guides for simple auto fixes can be found at

Have repair needs? DIY 04/13/10 [Last modified: Monday, April 12, 2010 5:24pm]
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