Wow! November is here and like many of you, I wonder where the year has gone. I’m in the process of finishing up several home improvement projects. 

I’m also excited about a friend’s decision to add a master bedroom to her home. She left Austin almost a decade ago to seek the calm and quiet of the south suburbs. I hated when she made the decision, but she had to do what is best for her as she, like me, comes to the final third of life. 

Stairs were giving her the flux so she gave up her bungalow for a ranch-style home, which is all on one level. Her backyard is literally one half of my block! She has a plethora of room to expand, so I can understand her desire to have a big bedroom. As we walked her property and plotted out the logistics of what she would have in her new abode, I knew I was in the element I enjoy the most. Home repair and home improvement are the constant consumers of my free time.

Over the years, I have expanded my repertoire — from simply painting a room to installing updated electrical switches and even finishing carpentry. I have found myself becoming the “go to” person when women friends had questions about what they should do on remodeling or changing their home. Seventeen years ago, I took the plunge and had a contractor add a second-story addition. That change gave me the room I needed, and I have never regretted the decision.

Are there other women like me out in Austin who love working on their house? Homeownership is a constant list of what needs to get done, what one would like to see happen, and my favorite of all: the “I wish list.”

Oftentimes women seek out advice from men who sometimes don’t get what they are questioning. Or the woman is hesitant to ask for help because there is an underlying fear of asking a “dumb question.” 

Truthfully, when it comes to our homes, there is no question that shouldn’t be asked. Understanding the basic mechanisms of the home’s major systems like heating/AC/hot water heating/electrical, etc. is highly recommended. Then there are the tools that should be in every homeowner’s tool box. A power drill is mandatory. From screwing something together to making a pilot hole to driving a nail into something, its potential uses are endless. Next are screwdrivers — both Phillips head and flathead. A saw, manual or power, is a definite necessity. A pipe wrench is a must because it goes hand-in-hand with plumbing pipes. A hammer, of course, and lastly, a toolbox to store all the tools in.

I do utilize the big-box stores like Home Depot and Menard’s. But there are other places that offer building materials at bargain prices. I haven’t been to the new HOBO that recently opened in Forest Park on Roosevelt just west of Harlem. But if it’s anything like the other ones, it is a place to go just to check up on what is available. 

My other favorite places to get the good stuff are demolition auction sites online. Murco.Net is one and is another. And for those of us with custom-built homes (aka bungalows), the Habitat for Humanity resale store at Pulaski and Peterson is a must!