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How did you learn to take care of your home?

Emily H
December 31, 2017

Was it a lot of trial and error? Did you have an amazing set of parents that showed you the ropes? How did you learn the ins and outs of taking care of a home?

Share your experience!

Comments (44)
  • skmom
    Trial and error, my dad who knows how to do everything (and now my hubby does too) and the internet. Back before we had Internet and my hubby and I were pretty young we called my dad a lot.
  • Amber Lynn
    Mostly my dad gave me a lot of advice. I have also looked at articles online about home maintenance. Many websites like Houzz have monthly to-do lists for home maintenance which I have found helpful.
  • woodteam5

    When we first started there was no internet and we had no money. We would go to the bookstores and sit there looking up and reading how to do something then go home and try to remember it. The internet is great

  • Kathi Steele

    I spent a lot of time at the library and we bought the TimeLife series about home repair!

  • PRO

    Hands on parents birthed by hands on grandparents. Hands on for ALL tasks from simple cleaning and scrubbing , to gardening, to remodel, ........all of it.

    Most of all, was the now oft forgotten concept that a home is a living and breathing thing, that "care" is far different than re do/ decoration.. So I won't hijack a thread with a NEW concept that is found just as often today. A focus on the redo and decoration.....as the care and maintenance basics lag far, far far behind: ) This despite conveniences my grandparents, and parents would have found incredible. Lesson is teach your children or the cycle (for good or bad) will likely be THEIR home too, someday/

  • Homebody


    God bless her

  • chiflipper

    I was the kid who watched every construction site / repair in the late 50's. I never "got in the way" or bothered the guys doing the work. After an hour or so most of them would start to explain the why & how of their work. (I think they were intrigued by a little girl being so interested.) Always loved working with my hands. The Time Life books cited by Kathi were the bomb!

  • Nancy Walton

    We had a Reader's Digest book of home repairs, as well as an experience with an inspection for moving out of base housing when my late husband was in the military, LOL!


    Trial and error and dad was a contractor and engineer. He had us kids help him with all sorts of home projects. Including putting on a roof! When I moved out on my own, he gave me a toolkit.

    He did totally overbuild and over engineer everything. But it was just his nature LOL...

  • beverlynn

    I learned the majority of it from my parents, especially my dad, and his brothers. My uncles both worked construction and built their own homes. My parents put an addition onto the house when my mom was pregnant with my youngest sister. Daddy finished the inside himself. I was truly a Daddy's girl, and stayed right with him the majority of the time. I was his "flunky." He'd say, "Hand me the 9/16 inch ratchet wrench!" I learned the difference between a Phillips head and a flathead screwdriver. He taught me that studs are "16 inch on center! Measure and knock as the studs have a solid sound, drywall sounds hollow!' Who needs a stud finder when you have a measuring tape and a listening ear? I don't know which was better; learning how to care for a home, or just the time spent with him! he is no longer with us and I cherish those memories!

  • melinda1977

    I also have fond memories of my dad working around the house. I can't say that I learned specifics, but rather the concept of caring for one's home. Unfortunately, I lost my dad when I was just a few years into home-ownership, so my husband and I researched projects in library books. We even re-roofed our small house using knowledge gleaned from library books! It was a nice-looking roof and served us well until we sold the house 17 years later.

    Now, my older son is about to purchase his first home, and he is looking forward to house 'projects.' The legacy lives on!

  • geadonna

    Just having a work ethic. You live what you know, see, witness. As a child you see the people around you, in your home, the neighborhood being constructive with their time, going to work, school, yard work, house work, working on cars. You learn not to be lazy and contribute to the world.

  • geadonna

    I like that this house has no elevation to enter it. Their are no steps to climb whatsoever to enter this home. I like that. I don't know about inside but if everything is on the same level that would make this home even sweeter for my taste.

  • celestina89

    Learning while growing up for the basics - sweeping, vacuuming, dusting, laundry. Then I started to rely on owner's manuals for equipment, furniture and so on. Once the internet grew starting in the late 1980s, I would look up information about how to do something. Even today, I use the net to find non-allergic ways to clean things, trying to keep it all simple yet doable.

  • mydogmiddy
    My parents took care of their home so I learned from them.
  • PirateFoxy

    My dad mostly. His family built a lake cottage themselves when he was a kid, so he had experience from that and he just always got me involved in stuff.


    Hi Emily,

    Fun question!

    HA! We pretty much did everything our parents DIDN'T do!

    Everything from pennies in the fuse box to Grandpa's attic renovations, it's a wonder that we're still alive!

    And don't get started on the cars, lol!


  • Stephanie T-D

    Watching my parents. Reading, watching "THIS OLD HOUSE" and "CROCKETT'S VICTORY GARDEN." And, those Time Life books that came each month were surprisingly helpful. Add to that my husband can read a book on, say, titling and then do it!

  • Diane Melgaard

    I've been in my 77 year old home for 30 years now. I watch and learn - every repair person I tell them I'm watching so I can learn and anything you can explain to me about this is helpful to me. Almost 100% enjoyed explaining and answering my questions. (Electrical, structural, plumbing, carpentry, septic system, roofing etc starts to make sense and fit together for a home.) Never got in the way or spoke while they were trying to think. Read product instructions, research a few online reputable sites for upcoming projects, ask people whom may have experience. Build up your tool arsenal. Frustrated with a project - walk away - think about a better solution or tool, a plan B. Be hands on as much as you can. I'm lucky to get to work alongside my contractor; saves me money too. I'm a retired nurse but it has been a blast remodeling and updating. I'll do as much as I can by myself ($$) but ask for help getting the sander in the house to refinish floors for example, or I'll do the demo and hire for cabinet installation after I work with contractor laying a new hardwood floor. Foundation repair - they let me try the jackhammer - I know I have to hire out for that in any other application because the machine is too heavy for me now. I sure would like more time on a bobcat, caterpillar and dingo though. One last thought is try to reuse anything you can. My demo'd 3/4 th inch paneling was repurposed as shelves for closets - no cost just time. Had leftover sand paper, nails, paint and looked at an existing shelf - ahh - that's how I can make it work and look good. You get the gist.

  • Susan Schutz

    For me, it started by being born into a home that was still under construction and that went on for about 5 years with me being my dad's assistant. Then, the addition began and I learned about concrete, studs, etc. On top of that, my high school counselor suggested that I go on to study engineering since I have a great love of how things work. However, I didn't follow that advice darn it all.

    With my first husband I ran the direction of remodeling projects since he came from an older home where nothing but painting ever happened. Our first home had a couple projects but it was our 2nd (and our last together) that really brought out my love of remodeling. We tore off all the siding on the upper floor, pulled out all the old wood windows and replaced them all with Andersen casement and put all new insulation and vinyl. He knew very little, got frustrated just trying to read the instructions so was always taking it out on me. Yes, there are several reasons he's the ex. ;-) That job took an entire summer but was well worth it.

    Now, in my current home with my current husband we're in a log home that we helped build. We were involved from the beginning and are now in the process of making some adjustments and tweaks to make it work for us.

    We have a vacation home up north and I'm getting so tempted to pull off the vinyl siding that's on it to upgrade with newer siding to give it a more appealing look.

    I've operated JLG lifts, fork trucks, Bobcats & the auger attachment, vintage Ford tractors, etc. and worked as a maintenance supervisor in the auto industry for 15 years. Now, I wish our tractor was running so I could play in the snow to plow our driveway instead of having our neighbor come over with his.

    Time and money. I'm no longer working full time so I've got the time - my husband can't work enough to keep up with all this. Over the last two summers I've been repainting our trim and I've refinished two porches 49'x9' each.

    I'm so itching to put in stamped concrete sidewalks but we might just have our neighbor's uncle do it instead - he's in the business and we have clay and he has the power equipment.

  • Angel 18432

    From my Dad - must be in the genes as my two sisters and myself are the handy women around the house. We all married guys who were not handy and don't mind us doing all that kind of thing.

  • sm m
    Parents and you tube when needed
  • tqtqtbw

    I'm another one of three sister who is the handywoman of the house and learned from watching my father. I also learned from watching my mother when she didn't want to wait for my father to fix it. Once than once she had her petite self upside down in the washing machine replacing the motor belt. we all helped with the lawn and I picked up my father's green thumb.

    I loved "This Old House" growing up and bought a Home Depot big orange book decades ago. Back in the 1980s, HD had staffer who could tell you step by step how to perform a task. They walked me through building a book case, and changing out leaking faucet stems, outdoor lighting, and garbage disposals. I am now full of amateur confidence - you know, the kind that results in having to call in a pro to fix your mistake. :-)

  • writerinfact

    LOL What a question! My answer? Hire a professional! Although I am very proud of my very first job, which paid in penny candy (I was 3 at the time): I swept up the wood shavings for the carpenter who had done the finish work in our house, while he worked on the house next door. (This was around 1959 or so in Watertown, WI.) Goddess bless Mr. Rochetal! Unfortunately, I have lived in someone else's house ever since. Landlords don't like DIY - unless it's them doing the DIY, which can run an excellent chance of being fatal.

  • Pat Allen

    Before the home shows were the rage, I'd buy magazines for ideas then use what I learned to either create projects or fix those that needed fixin'. Daddy had moved on so he was NO help. Mom worked so she never had time for home repairs (but I remember living is well-kept homes). My long-time fix for home repairs/remodeling was to marry an architect. LOLOLOL Although that back-fired because he only works on commercial buildings. Soooooooo, back to the home shows on TV and magazines. Life is funny.

  • Lyn

    My tear-jerker reply, sadly my hubby and I never had parents around when we bought our first house so we learnt the hard way, books, visiting show homes and home hardware stores---its been a journey

  • Bev

    I had parents, and so did my husband, who showed us how to take care of things. Cleaning is one thing that all the women in my family know how to do and we do it well (we had great teachers)!

  • tatts

    This Old House--TV show and magazine. I'm not afraid to tackle much of anything that a homeowner is likely to run across, including cutting through a wall and installing a new window where there was none before. And it's done right.

    My parents hired people to do stuff for them (and we lived in new houses as we moved around when my father was transferred). It was the age when men wore hats and good kids didn't wear blue jeans (chinos were as casual as we were allowed). So when I grew up I had to teach myself all of those skills.

  • sofikbr

    Lived in apartments all my life before 2000 when we built our first home. Our poor builder, we had no clue what we wanted but knew it is not what he proposed... How different building materials was at that time, we was looking for lighter tile in bathrooms and selection was 4 cream designs and I wanted some blush undertones ;) So when we remodeled our current home in 2014 it was so much more fun and it turned out perfect. We did learn a lot of stuff from 2000, much more handy now, I really like to paint, we do some furniture projects and a lot of gardening that is something we learn from our parents. My husband is very handy as his dad. Some of projects that's involve heights and lifting we have wonderful handyman that we prefer to use instead of doing it ourselves. Would our two girls do a lot of projects themselves and be handy, not sure, but they will paint on walls, furniture and canvases 100%.

  • Samantha Stephens

    I purchased my home after my husband passed away. I taught myself to do a lot of the repairs around the house. I also utilized owner's manuals and YouTube. My colleagues gifted me a toolbox. 20 years later I still have my toolbox. It is one of the best gifts I have received. I am currently teaching myself how to repair our toilets. Plumbers cost way too much money!

  • jjustice

    Interior care was modeled by household staff. Exterior care by observing what happens to even the best constructed properties when maintenance is ignored. When I built my 1st home, I watched/questioned every tradesman, and became obsessed with This Old House. I've now added inet guides/Youtube.

  • silviakunst
    By asking questions to professionals about taking care of all ..from what kind of paint to use ...to how to take care of the gutters ...to everything concerning the house . And by using the Internet . It's good to ask questions about everything .
  • wantdrapes
    I learned from my parents. Mom was a fastidious cleaner who kept our house immaculate and we three girls helped her with all the cleaning chores. So we learned how to handle every kind of mess or stain. Dad took care of upkeep/maintenance of the house and could fix anything. When we were children he was always glad to have a helper, and would explain the use of particular tools and the how and why of each project in detail.
    Outside, mom had beautiful flower beds and dad took care of the lawn and shrubs. We kids were expected to help with it all. As adults, we all have beautiful homes and landscapes.

    Last week I visited my parents at their house in Florida, and sure enough, even at age 85, dad had a project going on— I helped him fix the plumbing under a bathroom sink that would have made most people call a plumber. I’ve done my best to teach my children the same way.
  • heidilsing1

    Mom went through a phase in the 70's where our gambrel colonial style home became all things, "Stucco" "It covers the imperfections!" "Ma, we built the home! How bad was it?"

    Happy, happy home, but Ma...what were you thinking? Oh and olive green and burnt orange....

    I get it, all things come around, but....you know. :)

  • PRO
    CSI PoshFelt™

    I spent a lot of time at the library and we bought the TimeLife series about home repair!

  • Michelle C

    Great question! I learned from my hands-on mother. She always included the whole family in the cooking, cleaning, repair and maintenance work of the family home. We also had a little garden in the back yard that she tended to faithfully. As I got older, I ordered the TimeLife series for myself and watched This Old House and other home improvement shows every weekend. As a little girl, I built doll houses as a hobby. Making the furniture and doing any necessary repair work on them as needed always gave me the feeling that I was preparing for the real thing.

  • Karen Rose
    I think I was born to clean and keep organized lol. From a young age and without being told my mom said I was meticulous about organizing and cleaning my room. Same with my hair, nails, clothes, etc.. I always involved my kids (from their birth! We used to sing the clean up song from Barney!) in cleaning, cooking, steaming their clothes, etc., but my daughter (now 17) doesn’t follow ANY of the things I taught her, has a messy (toxic waste) room always, clothes on the floor, wrinkled, etc., (although she makes up for it with her amazing school work ethic and kindness) ;) and my son (15) is meticulous about his room, his appearance...SO FUNNY how they turned out so different, despite being brought up the same, I guess maybe you’re born with it, maybe it’s Maybelline!
  • tqtqtbw

    Every time this topic pops to the top of the list, it gives me a warm sad smile.

    Since my intiial response back in March, I spent a month back at my old home with my parents. My father passed away in June after a long hard-fought battle with cancer. One of the last things he said to me was "I guess I've cut God's green grass for the last time." He was yard proud and passed it on to me. <3

  • Samantha Stephens

    So sorry to hear of your loss.

  • felizlady
    From our mother. Dad was cerebral, not handy. He would try to fix something and then Mom would call in the repairman. Fortunately the older homes we lived in were well built and not much needed fixing. Mom did all the painting, inside and outside. She also hung the curtain rods and made the curtains.
  • Pat Allen

    I'm not sure I ever did. We have many, many unfinished project around here. My first degree is Interior Design so I picked up most of my remodeling skills during that career. Luckily I married an architect so he has 'lotsa' know how. Together we're excellent at generating ideas but we totally lack the energy to follow through on most of them. We 'fix' or maintain as needed and what we don't know how to fix we can on Mike Holmes to help us through.

  • lmfi

    I grew up watching the careful cleaning and organization in my mother and both grandmother's house. Later I learnt from experience the house cleaning and organization tasks. I should also mention the helpful advise and hints I learnt from books and magazine articles on home organizing and cleaning.

  • Tikva Wake
    I’ve been on my own since I was 17. I’m now 47 and I own two homes. My husband, whom I married at 37, is the person who has taught me the most about home maintenance. I never wanted to own a home because I really had a fear about all of the obligations. He is so knowledgeable about everything from the financial aspects to the HVAC systems that all my fears were replaced by the security of having a permanent home and an income property. He made me feel confident about taking on two renovation projects and now I’m hooked and I can’t wait to take on our next projects, which will transform the entire interior and exterior of our homes. It can be overwhelming to take on home ownership - having someone who knows what they’re doing to guide you through it all is critical.
  • Samantha Stephens

    Love this. Congratulations and much success with your home renovations!

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