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By Jim Gerland and Mark Winer

Check out our bi-weekly Net perspective. Our goal is to make these columns useful for our readers whether they be novice or pro, while still offering a fun to read column. Feel free to let us know what Internet resources you find useful in your personal, educational, or business life - it might just end up in one of our columns!

July 20, 1996

As I strolled around my beautiful neighborhood I noticed that nearly all my neighbors were in the midst of some sort of home improvement project. Some are painting, others having siding put on; Mrs. Smith at the corner is having a new driveway put in; the Thompsons' are putting on an addition to their house after having another child. All this home renovation got me thinking. I have a lot of projects to get started on around the house and I could use the Internet to find ideas, plans and advice to help me complete those tasks.

Our search of the Internet found literally hundreds of sites pertaining to all facets of home improvement. One of the more robust sites on the Web that we found is Home Central( This site features answers to common home improvement questions. There is also a very useful directory of the best the home improvement web sites which we used to link to other sites such as Ask The Builder ( Columnist and contractor Tim Carter answers questions to readers most frequently asked questions. He's been know to personally reply to your question. The Home Page ( includes an active bulletin board where the discussion level is right for the intermediate to advanced home improver.

If you're a veteran do-it yourself home fixer upper we have a great site is for you: The Internet Headquarters for Do-It-Yourselfers ( This site is intended for all of you dedicated DIY's. It is full of home maintenance tips for a wide range of projects. We especially like the home brewing guide so we have something refreshing after finishing all our projects! You may also want to check out Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse ( where you'll find detailed how-to information for all the most common DIY jobs, indoors and out. Seasonal products and tips are updated frequently. Painting your house this summer? Check out the Housepainting FAQ ( Gardening enthusiasts will enjoy ( which claims to house the best plant search database on the Web. Included are frequently asked questions and reviews of quality gardening sites as well as links to many other home-related sites.

For more ideas check out some of the magazines and books offered on-line. LivingHome ( is an on-line periodical guide to home and garden design. The layout is crisp and stylish just like the magazine; we're sure you can find something that grabs your interest here. This Old House ( has a site which features home repair ideas and answers as well as sneak previews of upcoming shows and even a trivia quiz.

Looking for a different fix-em up guide? Books That Work ( is a company which produces interactive software for home-related projects. Software titles cover most projects ranging from decks, landscaping and gardening, and kitchens, to designing your whole house. This comprehensive site offers a nice index of project types with links to other web sites.

A very different publication is Handwritten Amish Books ( These books include household hints, recipes, remedies, and calendars handwritten by one of the largest old order Amish communities from Southeastern Minnesota.

I know one of my dreams is to one day own an old New England farmhouse - and fix it up of course. There are some really fun sites on the Internet that address the problems you might encounter if you're trying to fix up an antique home. Historic House On-line ( offers the wisdom of professional preservationists John Leeke and Frank Thompson who have more than 35 years of combined experience in solving the unique maintenance and restoration problems of historic homes. If your tastes are more towards owning an old Southern plantation, check out the on-line version of Southern Living magazine ( This site includes great gardening ideas from the latest issue as well as back issues from 1994. The keyword search is great for finding topical old articles.

For those concentrating on home interiors and you're in the market for carpetingcheck out Carpeteria ( This on-line store carries a wide variety of carpeting and wood flooring, and offers tips on care and selection. Carpet Classics ( offers a little education for prospective carpet buyers that includes a rundown of how carpet is made, avoiding rip-offs, removing stains, and more.

We find furnishing our home to be a lot of fun though problematic with all the options available to us: should we go colonial or southwestern? Modern or classical? Whatever the choice, there is sure to be an Internet site out there with useful information. If you're looking for that prized antique, check out The Internet Antique Shop ( for dealers, bookstores, magazines and mailing lists. Niagara Castings ( is a local company which produces custom cast metal plaques, mailboxes, fountains, door knockers and sundials. They ship worldwide to distributors or individuals.

If you're tastes are for new furniture take a look at The Bombay Company ( or Ethan Allen ( Each site features some of the products stocked by these companies.

For something completely off the wall check out Jammin' Johns ( Jammin' Johns are toilet seat covers shaped like musical instruments. Yes, that's right: toilet seat covers shaped like musical instruments!

Whatever home improvement projects you tackle we hope you have fun and practice safety while doing them. If you are going to hire a contractor to do any home improvement project you may want to check out The Better Business Bureau ( web site. Usually you don't turn to them until it's too late. This time try an ounce of prevention and browse through the home-related publications on this site for tips on picking contractors as well as other topics. And of course we can't forget about security for our nicely fixed up home. Masterlock ( has some good home security tips here and a general run-down of the types of locks available from Masterlock. Unfortunately, they don't have a detailed catalog or lock installation instructions yet.

We'd like to hear about the Internet issues that are important to you. Please send us your comments or questions to us via email ( ) or fax (716) 853-1350.