Katie Hamilton

I'm a home improvement columnist for Tribune Media Services and co-founder of www.diyornot.com. My husband Gene and I have written Do It Yourself Or Not which has appeared in newspapers since 1987 and features a comparison of the cost of hiring a contractor for a project vs. doing it yourself. We've written 20 home improvement books including Home Improvement for Dummies and Fix It and Flip It.

Spend Evenings at Home in Your Lighted Yard

Staying home for a “staycation” instead of going out of town? Think about using some of that fun money in your own backyard and you might get more use of the great outdoors. When friends added some basic landscape lighting they said they never thought of their trees as being such a beautiful part of the landscape....more

Kitchen Remodeling

Living through a kitchen remodel involves adjustments for everyone in the house but the result is a wonderful new space with things just where you want them. But I can’t say enough about the importance of planning and defining and then refining what you want. Spend a lot of time doing preliminary footwork....more

Gardening Days

The argument for gardening is a strong one that includes the benefits of being outdoors, physical activity and exercise, enriching the soil with nutrients and all while making your property more beautiful. But I left it behind when we moved to a townhouse and I’ve never missed it....more

Lighting for Your Front Entrance - A Bright Idea

Get ready for guests with good lighting at your front entrance. The addition of a new outdoor fixture on a porch or front entry illuminates the area while it also acts as a deterrent against intruders who prefer a darkly lit front door....more

Why a DIYer Can be a Contractor's Best Customer

We know several contractors who agree that the DIY homeowner is not a threat to their livelihood. As a matter of fact, he or she often becomes a customer who turns to the pro for solving a problem they created. They fall into three categories: a DIYer who botches the job, a DIYer on a deadline and a DIYer who didn’t know the local code requirements for some jobs. A floor refinisher is often called in to repair and complete a job started by an ambitious handy homeowner, a DIYer who damaged hardwood floors by incorrectly operating a floor sander....more

Get a Wand and Clean Your Deck

Looking for a mindless job that pays off big? Power wash your deck. It’s grunt work that is tedious, time consuming and requires little or no skills. Power Washing a Deck is a good example of grunt work and it’s a job we usually do ourselves. Whether you rent a power washer for the afternoon for about $80 or buy a unit for about $165, it’s money well spent....more

Just Do It - Clean Your Gutters

Signs of Spring from DIYers

 There are definitely signs of Spring at www.diyornot.com when I take a look at the top 10 most viewed projects costs from last week. Four of the them involved the great outdoors.  In the garden they include seeding a lawn and installing an in-ground sprinkler. Both create a new lawn and a way to keep it flourishing.  ...more

Painting - Best DIY Project You Can Do

When we moved into our first house, a small duplex, some 40 years ago we didn’t know any better. It never occurred to us that we couldn’t paint the rooms, we just assumed we could do it. We were young, poor and fearless and made every mistake in the book. As a matter of fact, that led to a career of writing about home improvements including several of the Dummies© books, one of which is Painting and Wallpapering for Dummies ©. Painting was and remains one of the most popular DIY projects because it is so forgiving....more

Hints and Tips for Homeowners from Homeowners

For good advice you can’t beat someone’s personal experience so I thought I’d share some tips we’ve gleaned from our first online community. We’ve been compiling DIY hints and tips since we began HouseNet BBS, a bulletin board system that we operated in 1991. By 1996 our online community grew to become HouseNet, the home improvement channel on AOL and then HouseNet.com in 1997. So these hints and tips are a long time coming....more