CLEVELAND, OHIO — When you break up, learn how to fix things. If you have the money, pay a professional.
My dad once shared this wisdom with me, probably when my first car was leaking coolant and overheating. And I stubbornly thought that replacing the thermostat in the car would solve a much bigger problem.
Sometimes the pro pays off. Other times, it pays to be resourceful. With everything from food prices soaring to utility bills, many of us are more worried about money.
When I recently bought my first house I had a lot of things to fix, but feeling broken doesn’t make it any easier to clean my sink. But two local nonprofits that I wasn’t aware of beforehand could have made it a lot easier.
These two organizations, Home Repair Resource Centers in Cleveland Heights and LakewoodAlive, offer a variety of courses to teach people how to make general improvements around the home. You do not have to live in these cities to participate.
“There’s no doubt that being able to paint and scrap your home will save you thousands of dollars,” said David Brock, education and outreach coordinator at the Home Repair Source Center.
Saving You Money is a new column from Cleveland.com and The Plain Dealer about saving money. If you’re feeling the pinch of record inflation, you’re not alone. Saving You Money aims to help readers save and highlight resources that can help, perhaps with a few bargain purchases in between.
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Learning to fix things while saving
LakewoodAlive and the Home Repair Resource Center both have similar goals. Tell people about their home. Show them how to improve and do maintenance. Make consumers more informed – so they know how to search for contractors when needed.
There are many helpful videos and articles online and even the friendly staff at the local hardware store. But it’s hard to beat the locals, who are willing to help or offer hands-on education for a small fee.
In some cases, the savings can be substantial.
Take tuck-pointing, which involves fastening mortar joints between bricks. If you spend four hours fixing your home’s front steps or brick siding, you could potentially save $100 an hour, Brock said.
A plumber will typically only charge $100-$150 to turn up on a clog you may be able to fix yourself.
Instead of buying a new faucet, a leaky faucet can be fixed with a $20 stake.
According to Brock, learning to seal cracks around windows and doors can save 15% on energy bills. And regular maintenance can prevent later costly projects.
Small projects add up. And you can start small.
LakewoodAlive’s toolbox coordinator, Matt Clark, said outdoor projects make a good builder. For some landscaping or building a stone patio, you can start by painting accent walls or hanging a large TV.
It really depends on your comfort level, but Clark and Brock recommend a few projects to get you started.
It is good to learn basic plumbing work. At some point everyone gets stuck. So does drywall patching and painting, and maintenance to keep water out of the basement.
Even minor electrical work, like replacing sockets or lamps, can be done with the right precautions. Clark also repaired a refrigerator, a vacuum cleaner, and a YouTube video for a $200 repair.
Both Clark and Brock insist on safety. If the project might hurt you, you need to rent heavy equipment, or If you’re just over your head, start small.
It’s better to start with projects that you can stand or lie down on rather than climb a ladder.
You can build this comfort over time. I’m comfortable on the ceiling, but when I see the stars I panic. For others, it’s the opposite problem.
How These Nonprofits Can Help You
What makes practical classes great, Brock said, is that people can fail in the classroom instead of at home.
The services of both the Home Repair Resource Center and LakewoodAlive are open to all, but residents can receive discounts and access to the tool library.
Hands-on courses at the Home Repair Resource Center cover a variety of topics such as: B. installing door locks, installing lights, finding studs and tiling walls.
A single repair class costs $25, while an advanced repair shop costs $40. The six-part women’s guide series costs $150. Residents of sister cities (Cleveland Heights, Euclid, and Shaker Heights) are eligible for a discount, and an additional discount of 50% to 100% is available for low-income residents.
The Home Repair Resource Center’s extensive tool library is temporarily closed until someone new is hired to run it. When it’s open it’s for residents only. You can reach the center at 216-381-6100 or at hrrc-ch.org.
LakewoodAlive is offering a Knowing Your Home training series through October, which is in-person and held at different locations depending on the classroom. These are free and open to the public, including non-Lakewood residents. Readers can find courses at lakewoodalive.org/knowing-your-home-educational-series.
The Lakewood Tool Box is only available to city residents, renters, and landlords. Residents can get a membership for $30 while landlords pay $75. A refundable deposit is required for equipment rentals.
You can reach LakewoodAlive at 216-521-0655 or visit Lakewoodalive.org.
While I think these nonprofits are your best bet, there are other resources as well.
Both Lowe’s and Home Depot will stream the workshops live on their websites. They offer personal workshops that vary by store.
The internet is obviously full of information. Brock recommends that you start with Google, not YouTube, as you’ll get a wider range of results.
A YouTube channel I turn to often is I Like to Make Stuff. The host creates a variety of things, but has plenty of house-specific videos in their collection. Apparently, PBS’s “This Old House” is a classic that can be flipped.
Do it, don’t exhaust it… and do your research first
The most frustrating thing for me is that I’m bad at most things the first time I do them, whether it’s repairing my house or any other skill.
Clarke says I’m not alone. Even in his first home, he learned it the hard way. “To fix it, you just have to keep going,” he said.
And nothing is perfect. You’ll find that most walls aren’t square, straight, or flat. And wherever you see mold, like around windows and doors or on the floor, they’ll cover up gaps you don’t want to see.
One important step Clark recommends that I shouldn’t miss: Do your research first.
After painting but before writing this, I attended an online paint seminar hosted by Home Depot. While the hosts cracked many bad jokes, they also shared many things I wish I had done.
The same goes for opening my sink. I tried to smell it and threw every chemical or homemade concoction I could think of down the drain. I later learned from Brock and Clark that some of these chemicals could eat up my drainpipe.
People can almost always repeat something that didn’t go well. Clarke, himself a construction worker, said even professionals make mistakes. And they also see things online from time to time.
It may sound daunting, but you’ll get better at working overtime., And you save in the process.
Consider these online retailers for your DIY needs: