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I am a new homeowner and know literally almost nothing about home improvement. I would like to learn basic concepts by doing things one at a time...but I can't just jump in and do most things. Are there any good resources (websites/books) that provide project ideas or tutorials that are organized from extremely basic to very advanced? I could use this to start with things extremely basic and learn skills and get ideas as I go.

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wait a month. Something will break. Then you have your first project! –  DA01 Jan 6 '12 at 2:24
You can start by searching for home builders regulations which has allot of rules, hints and ways to do things properly. You can also search for other home builder diy books- but most importantly. Search DIY Stack Exchange and ask us! We love to help! :) –  ppumkin Jan 6 '12 at 17:16
Thanks for all the suggestions! –  novacara Jan 9 '12 at 15:58
If asked today, this question would be closed as open ended and opinion based, but the existing answers may be useful for others, so we're locking it. –  BMitch Jan 13 at 12:54
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8 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Welcome! You will certainly find lots of specific questions and answers on this site but not as many general how-tos; it is after-all a Q&A site.

Firstly, you need some tools! There is a great thread on this site about the tools everyone should own, I suggest you give it a read!

The internet is a great resource and you will find answers to almost any problem or project you have. If you are looking for some more general knowledge, I'd recommend taking a look at the books section of your local hardware store. They usually have some good beginner books on plumbing, electrical, painting and other common around-the-house work. This particular book rated well on Amazon in the "how to do everything" category. Certainly high up on the list of common tasks for home owners are basic electrical and plumbing: Changing light fixtures, switches, dimmers, thermostats, unplugging drains and toilets, replacing faucets and/or components. Typically, the easier projects revolve around replacing existing components , whereas more complex projects involve new installs or big modifications.

Also take a look at this sites blog as it has some good walk-throughs.

If I can give you any advice it is that you can do anything you put your mind and hands to - don't be afraid! Read-up and give it a try! But also know when you are in over your head and you should bring in a pro. Stay away from serious electrical work, and never try anything gas-related on your own.

Good luck and have fun!

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Pick up a copy of New Complete Do-It-Yourself Manual from Reader Digest.

Reader's Digest:New Complete Do-It-Yourself Manual Cover

This is an awesome book, and a great resource when you're just starting out in home repair.

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This was the name of the book I was trying to remember! I don't know why but I was googling "consumers digest". Glad someone is on the ball :) –  Steven Jan 6 '12 at 17:17
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Well, I'm not sure how your inspection report went, but mine was a "great" list of home improvement ideas!

But really, you need to figure out what your house is lacking, make a list, figure out the complexity of each job, then go from there.

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Your home will give you ideas on what projects that should be done, because you will see things that need "improving". Start small and work your way up to larger projects.

Some good starter projects:

  • Paint a room
  • Replace a light fixture
  • Replace faucets or other hardware
  • Mount a flat screen on a wall
  • Caulk cracks or drafty areas around doors or windows
  • Replace a toilet
  • Add insulation to attic

A small project would be one you could complete in a day or less and should not require any specialized skill set other than following instructions and using some basic tools.

Bigger projects require planning, more resources, a more comprehensive toolset, and will take longer than a day to complete. It also might require professional help (specialized trade) as well and knowledge of building codes.

So plan and choose wisely before tackling any big projects.

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I would focus on a particular skill or system at a time, plumbing, electrical, painting etc. Once you get bored of one move on to another, but this allows you to feel like you're making progress in a lot of different areas.

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For each project, Google away. I've also found it useful to have some books handy for electrical, plumbing, etc.

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Follow blogs like www.askthebuilder.com, www.designbidbuild.com, www.thisoldhouse.com, and www.thefamilyhandyman.com

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