House need work? There’s help online


Hometalk lets users ask any question about their homes, from "How did you do your remodel" to "What is that plant?"
June 20, 2012

It’s the first day of summer, and as you dust off your patio furniture and take a hard look at your garden, you may notice a problem or two that’s keeping your home from being summer ready. Maybe the edging on your landscaping needs work — or maybe you just think your decor isn’t quite in sync with the season.

There are quite a few resources for homeowners to consult online, whether they simply want some inspiration or more professional help.

For do-it-yourselfers, there’s Hometalk, a social network of around 100,000 people devoted to sharing and answering questions about the things that homeowners may wonder about as they go through their to-do lists. This newly redone network isn’t great just for answering questions like, “Is this a flower or a weed?” but also for coming up with ideas of how to reuse or repurpose things you may have lying around. There are directions, for example, on how to turn coffee, soup and paint cans into a charming yard sculpture or how to give an old front door new life as a coffee table.

The site also offers users tips on finding contractors, which can be filtered down by area — essentially extending the word-of-mouth network that most homeowners already have.

For those in a more aspirational mood, of course, there’s Houzz, which not only shows off photos of astonishing homes on its app and Web site, but also connects users to local architects and contractors for large-scale projects. Houzz tends to skew more toward the granite-countertop and chandelier set, but it gives you plenty to drool over in posts that are organized by room and style.

Those looking to keep their home in top form could consider BrightNest, which helps users set up regular to-do lists and offers reminders on how to care for your home. The service will remind you when your furnace needs a checkup, as well as when you should clean your home range.

Finally, if you’re looking for someone to help when a major gadget goes bust, you could also try Repair.com, a Sterling, Va.-based company that lets users book appointments with local businesses to see someone within 24-48 hours. As The Washington Post’s Shawn Selby noted, repairs are for TV and home appliances. The service has launched in 50 cities, including Washington, and all work is guaranteed for 90 days.

More technology coverage:

Windows Phone 8: No support for current devices

Windows Phone 8: Speech, Wallet, and more games on the way

Microsoft aims to straddle two worlds with new Surface tablet

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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