It's The Simple Things

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These five simple tips can make your home-improvement process easier.

Make a tangible plan. Whether you make a drawing or a model, get something solid that you can look at.

Do your research. Local contractors say reading books and Web sites, watching home improvement shows on television, taking a class, or using any way to gather as much information as possible always helps.

Make a budget that matches your expectations to your wallet.

Expect the project to take time. Be patient.

Don't be afraid to ask for help. "If you're not a good designer, then hire a designer," contractor Dave Fowler said.

Do your homework to do it yourself

Research, planning key to remodeling

Mike Lawrence

Homestyle 2006

For Routt County do-it-yourselfers, learning about home improvement most likely means hitting the books or booting up the Internet.

With no big-box hardware retailers such as Home Depot or Lowe's, opportunities for hands-on instruction or free home improvement seminars are slim. Ace at the Curve in Steamboat Springs has the materials, but they don't offer instruction.

During the academic year, Colorado Mountain College in Steamboat Springs offers classes in stained glass, lawn maintenance and high-altitude gardening, occupational education coordinator Shelly Riley said. If you want to sell a home rather than improve it, CMC offers a real estate broker's class this summer.

Kevin Kleckler, shop teacher at Hayden High School, offers community classes in metallurgy and welding at the school, through Colorado Northwestern Community College in Craig. Kleckler said he teaches classes for beginners and experienced welders, and provides almost all the supplies.

"Usually leather boots is the only thing I ask them to have," Kleckler said. The next round of classes starts in mid-June. Kleckler said students can learn skills for basic maintenance repairs, automobile repairs, ornamental uses such as a hand-railing for a deck, artwork for a yard, or even sculptures.

"It could be something as basic as fixing your toaster," he said of welding.

Dave Fowler, owner of Double Diamond Construction in Steamboat, said planning a realistic budget is the most important part of home improvement.

"That's the first thing that people tend to not pay much attention to," Fowler said. "Construction is expensive. People don't expect the price of wood to be what it is."

Renovating a bathroom can cost as much as $8,000 for materials alone, according to Fowler.

"People just drop their jaw," he said.

Fowler said changing a home's countertops from Formica to a nicer material, such as stone, is a manageable project.

"That's a simple thing," he said.

Replacing wood flooring near an entranceway with durable tiling, such as slate, is another relatively simple project that can bring positive results, Fowler said.

Painting -- such as new trim around a door -- is in that same category.

"Something like that can be a big improvement at a low cost," Fowler said.

Whatever the project, research and planning are essential. Get to the library, get to a computer, and get going.

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