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Home Improvement Guide 2007
Get ready
Before starting any home improvement project, research and planning is the key to successful results.
Cool tools for the do-it-yourselfer
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Tool beltTool belt: You can find tool belts and pouches of nearly every size and configuration, but the one thing you might not have much choice on is color: tan, gray, and black will be about it. Want more? Be Jane has tool belts that come in blue, pink, and even purple suede. Go straight from construction site to dinner party.

HammersHammers: Looking for a fashionable tool to add to that tool belt? You can start with a pink hammer from Tomboy Tools. Seventy percent of proceeds go to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation to fight breast cancer.

Ergonomic Brushes A better fit: Ergonomics, the science of human-machine interaction, isn't just about office chairs and keyboards: It's also growing more important in the DIY market. "There's been a trend toward ergonomics over the last few years," says Steve Maltese, vice president of e-commerce and public relations at Great Neck Tools. "Handles fit a hand a little better, or tools are a little lighter so that people can work without fatigue." Ergonomic products include utility knives, paint brushes, staple guns, pliers, wire cutters, screwdrivers, wrenches, and a host of other options.

Virtual DIY
How can a Web site help you with your do-it-yourself projects? By providing great advice, scheduling reminders, and suggesting ways to maximize your remodeling impact:

Organize projects: For an annual fee, Homefree.com will customize a maintenance schedule for your home, prioritize projects, and provide tips and articles. The Web-based system also allows you to keep a household inventory, like serial numbers and warranty information. If disaster strikes, you just print out the data and hand it to an insurance adjuster.

Save energy: See if your remodeling efforts will save you energy --  and money -- in the long run at the Home Energy Saver. By entering answers to a couple dozen questions about how much you pay for energy and what systems you've already got in place, you can find out how you can save by installing energy-saving devices over the course of a year (or several). Recent improvements to the site make it even more useful, including estimated costs and savings for each upgrade.

Power to the people: If a DIY project gets a little out of hand and you need a bit of assistance, consult Angie's List. Its members in more than 100 cities recommend roofers, remodelers, and handymen. With thousands of reports filled by members each month, each with a grade on the service from individual companies, you'll be able to find a great plumber before that flooding bathroom turns into an indoor pool.

-- Posted: April 4, 2007
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