Site Seer: Ideas to update or renovate your home
November 7, 1996
Web posted at: 12:00 p.m. EST
From CNN Interactive Writer Kristin Lemmerman
(CNN) -- The home improvement business is booming, and you
may feel like you should get involved -- whether you live in
an older apartment or house, or have just finished building
your dream home. The urge to tinker with your surroundings
for many, is irresistible.
If moving the furniture or hanging a few pictures on the wall
doesn't cure your malaise, a new home improvement project may
be what you need to perk back up. While your local hardware
store can often tell you how to do something, sources of
inspiration are always helpful. This is where the Web steps
This old hometime: fixer-upper shows move to
The Hometime site
features projects and information aired on the Hometime
television show (on PBS). It previews upcoming shows, tells
where you can buy tools featured on the program, and gives
detailed instructions on projects ranging in difficulty from
installing ceramic tile to contracting out a new house.
One of the things I really liked about this site is that it
gives you a range of projects, from big to small, and gives
detailed step by step instructions. The advantage: if you
see a project you like, you can get a clear idea of whether
or not you have the skills to complete it, or whether you
should access the site's guide to hiring a contractor.
The site might be better if each project included more
pictures, so that would-be do-it-yourselfers can see exactly
how the job is done. If you have problems conceptualizing
how each step is carried out, you can always place an order,
online of course, for the videotape.
This Old House
The "This Old House" web site also includes a catalogue of do-it-yourself projects and
an index of historic homes whose renovation the show has
profiled (for Old House fans, the latest home featured is the
Nantucket Victorian currently being shown on PBS).
The site also hosts tool tips, appliance advice and a solid
library of landscaping ideas. It makes more use of pictures
than the Hometime site does. Like the Hometime site, it
breaks each article down into several pages, making your
download time per page faster and making it practical to have
very long, detailed articles with illustrations.
Although there was limited home repair information available
on the Home Improvement USA site, it is nonetheless a worthwhile site because it allows you to listen to the radio show "Home Improvement USA" live each week using
the RealAudio plug-in. You can also listen to selected past
episodes, and learn about the home improvement qualifications
of the show's hosts.
Home improvements can satisfy a number of goals
If your primary objective in your home is to make it eat less
energy, the Good Cents site may be a good starting point for you. Good Cents is a national program that promotes
energy-efficient home building; its site's primary focus is
to promote its magazine and encourage builders to get Good
Cents training. However, there is also information published
in the online version of the Good Cents magazine that would
be valuable to people building their first home or upgrading
their current residence.
If, on the other hand, you want a more beautiful, more
valuable home, consider improving your landscape. A good
landscape can make your house more appealing to you and to
prospective home buyers years down the road, making it easier
to sell. However, for many people, visualizing new a new
setting for their home is daunting if not impossible.
The Living Home
online magazine can help. It's grunge's answer to Martha
Stewart -- hip layout combined with tips for acting like
you've got your act together. The site will help you figure
out what type of grass to plant in your landscaping jobs, and
how much of it to buy, and suggests plants you can plant in
the fall. Back inside, the site's Hot House section houses
information on stenciling, English cottage gardens, and
building a wall out of windows, among other topics.
The Houston Lighting & Power Company web site's focus is making homes more
energy efficient through both landscaping and home design.
It uses colorful graphics to illustrate its useful tips, and
gives good tips on getting started for both landscape and
For more detailed information on landscaping, you may want to
post specific questions on a garden web site like The Garden
Gate or spring for a book or computer software to help you out.
And, of course, hiring a contractor is always an option.
Choosing a contractor
Speaking from personal experience I can say with conviction
that even if you know how to use nothing but a hammer and a
screwdriver, you will be amazed at how many projects you can
tackle yourself. However, if think you're biting off more
than you can chew, hiring a reputable professional to get the
job done is always an option.
The Contractor Network web site is a good place to
start if this is your choice. The site serves as a referral
service for the construction industry, but was designed so
that home owners can find the information they need. Search
by topic, or post your home improvement question if the
answer isn't already in the site's archives, and Contractor
Network will get you an answer.
When hiring a contractor for a job it helps to know the rules
where you live. The Contractor Network lists contractors who
are insured in their specialties (they pay to be listed) and
gives you a checklist of questions to ask to help you in
choosing a contractor. It also lists licensing statutes by
The site also sells a videotape entitled "How to Hire a
Contractor." You can preview a small portion of the tape
before you buy, by downloading the site's QuickTime movie.
Online ordering is available.
Not sure? Click here to compare your configuration
with each site's browser requirements
Home Central - Includes many, many more links to other types of home
Dan's Do-It-Yourself page - Includes links on renovating Craftsman bungalows and
See previous site seer reviews.
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