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If money is no object, you'll probably find great craftspeople who want to renovate your home. When you're on a budget or it's "only a small project," finding a contractor or supplier who'll call you back can be a challenge.

Add to this the frustration of shoddy workmanship and delay on delay, and you can understand why do-it-myself is a realistic and less frustrating alternative for growing numbers of property owners. Many don't take on a job themselves just to save money, their prime motivation may be achieving a level of care and quality that seems to be sadly lacking out there.

For instance, many parts of Canada have been deluged with heavy rain this year and I've heard from frustrated homeowners who had spend time and money making sure their eavestroughs were ready to do their job: keeping water away from the house. House owners who had their eavestrough system substantially repaired and overhauled or had a new system installed, only to watch overflow waterfalls at corners of their eavestroughs. For too many, this water worked its way into basements. Some discovered water in their basement and corrected the problem. Others will find mould behind walls at some point. One property owner discovered that the fifth repair to the eavestrough system also failed and the resulting moisture around the foundation welcomed termites back into the home.

We've reached the point where, although there are many companies selling eavestroughing, there seem to be too few professional installers who understand the dynamics of rainfall and roofing. When a gutter system was wrongly installed to begin with, having new eavestrough replace the old in exactly the same way, does not do much to solve water problems.

That's one industry and one home system, but the story seems to be similar for most, if not all, home construction elements from electrical systems to plumbing and windows. Finding a professional who can do more than just "stick in a new one where the old one was" is a challenge. Since much of the work done years and decades ago was not up to current codes and standards, simple replacement may not be enough. For instance, installing a new high-efficiency furnace is not that difficult. But locating an installer with the knowledge and experience to make sure the duct system from the furnace and through the house can actually heat the place uniformly is an entirely different problem. How have you done in your search for affordable expertise or just expertise for that matter?

Even if you don't want to, or can't, do the work yourself, the more you know about what constitutes a job well done, the more likely you'll be to find that rare knowledgeable, quality-conscious contractor or installer. There are lots of "don't worry no one will ever notice" workers out there. They don't expect to finish a job without making mistakes, so they don't.

Habitat for Humanity Toronto's ReTooling Build is the type of solution that has 360◦ benefits: "The ReTooling Build is an opportunity for retirees and soon-to-be retirees to give back to their community through six days of learning, social activities, volunteerism and fun. Along the way you will make new friends, learn new skills, discover new sides of yourself and help families living in need."

Learn how to look after your own home while helping low-income families escape from substandard housing to affordable home ownership? Not a bad deal for all concerned and no construction experience required!

The Toronto ReTooling Blitz Build planned for September 2010 will build 12 homes in one week and will accomplish much more. Volunteers are asked to raise a minimum of C$250 in pledges on or before their build day. For more information, visit https://retoolingbuild.ca or call 416 755 7353 ext.225.

Don't think that volunteer-driven Habitat for Humanity builds are anything less than first-class construction projects. For instance, Habitat for Humanity Winnipeg (HFHW) recently received a national award celebrating its sustainable building practices, which include energy-efficient homes that meet the Manitoba Hydro Power Smart Gold standard as well as LEED® Certification.

HFHW and other affiliates also offer Women Build, programs that encourage women to pick up a hammer and help families receive the quality of housing that all Canadians should be entitled to. (Since Canada doesn't have a National Housing Policy, details on quality standards are not available.) Women Build has constructed more than 1400 homes worldwide with seven of them in Winnipeg courtesy of HFHW volunteers.

Who qualifies for ownership of a Habitat home? Contact your local HFH office for details. Ontario's Waterloo Region HFH application criteria will give you an idea of what is involved, but don't be shy about asking.

Local colleges and continuing education programs also offer courses in construction, so September may hold special back-to-school opportunities for you this year.

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