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Over-the-phone and video advice for DIY home repairs

Consider possibilities for remote assistance when you're faced with a home repair and want to minimize contact with others. (iStock)
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There’s not a doubt in my mind that you’ve been directly affected by the current health crisis that’s sweeping over the world. These are extraordinary times, and they call for extraordinary effort from many of us.

Just because the economy has shut down for all intents and purposes, that doesn’t mean the structural and mechanical problems and challenges at your own home have stopped. In fact, you may be more desperate now than you were a month ago.

Perhaps you don’t want strangers coming to your house. I get that. The virus we’re all battling is invisible. People who have the coronavirus can infect others before they show symptoms (if they ever show them at all).

Your challenge could be financial. So many are suffering. I get that. Just nine years ago, I had to face an incredible financial challenge of my own. I’m quite sensitive to this particular situation and understand the difficulty you might be experiencing.

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I’m ready to step up to the plate to help you. I did a two-hour live call-in radio show for 12 years, and I was the weekly home improvement expert on the ABC and NBC TV affiliates in Cincinnati. It’s time to brush off the dust from those past experiences to help you.

I’ve decided to devote two hours a day, at a minimum, calling homeowners across the United States. You may need to know how to do a simple repair. I can help get you started over the phone.

Because money is tighter than a banjo string right now, you can’t afford to buy something new, so you need to know how to protect what you have. I can help. Or, if you are buying something, perhaps you want to know what the best product is so you don’t waste precious money.

In many cases, a simple, quick phone call may help you. In others, I may have to record a short video with some drawings, as I made all those years ago sitting at future customers’ dining tables showing them how I was going to solve a particular issue when building an addition to their house.

The point is, it’s time for me to try to share my knowledge far and wide. I intend to record each phone call, keeping your identity private. I’ll then upload the recording to my website so everyone with the same problem can listen and benefit.

Any video I do, I’ll upload to my AsktheBuilder YouTube channel so you can watch it. It’s my hope that your newspaper will allow me to use part of this column to feature the recordings and videos.

I’ve created a form on my website that you need to fill out with some information so I can do my best to help you. Remember, your privacy is paramount. No one will know it’s you who’s asking for help.

I don’t know how many different problems a week I can solve. I do know that your problem may be shared by someone else — so even if I don’t call you, a phone call or video I create for someone else may be all the help you require.

I’m wide open to ideas on how to make this work for you, as the concept is not cast in stone. We can work together to refine how to transfer the knowledge. If you have a better mousetrap that will allow me to help more people faster, I’d love to hear from you.

Stay safe, and I pray each day that you’ll survive this crisis stronger than before.

Subscribe to Tim’s free newsletter and listen to his new podcasts at

Read more:

Projects to improve your home right now

7 questions to ask yourself before taking on a DIY home project

When DIY projects turn into DIY disasters for homeowners