Hands-On Guidance in Caring for Your Home

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The Home Should be the Treasure Chest of Living — Le Corbusier

How are you treating your treasure? Do you need some guidance on caring for your home?

The dream of home ownership can quickly become a nightmare if you’re not prepared in the basics of home repair and maintenance.

Knowing simple things like repairing a damaged wall, replacing a leaking pipe under the sink, and preparing for cold weather are key in keeping your home safe and comfortable.

Expert contractor Peter Marx has been guiding folks in his Basic Hands-On Home Repair and Maintenance workshops over the past two decades.

“I don’t know everything — and I don’t pretend to,” he laughs. “But what I can do is offer my opinion and experience, and show them where they can find more resources.”

We asked him to share with us more about his class, why he teaches it, and why you should join him for his next series of hands-on workshops.

How long have you been teaching these workshops?

I’ve been teaching this class for the last 23 years, and about 12 of those have been at Seattle Central.

What inspired you to teach this class?

I was a self-employed contractor and cabinet maker since college, eventually becoming a vendor and installer for Corel solid surface coutertops. One of my largest vendors was a local home improvement chain called Ernst Hardware, and when they went out of business, my business took a huge hit.

So I went to a vocational counselor, who advised me that I had a lot of great experience in building and construction, and that I should find a way to share that with others. And I love doing that — I have decades of knowledge and experience, and it’s great to give that back to my community.

How is this class different from others that you teach?

Like all of my workshops, this is a hands-on class, and I’ve developed the curriculum so that students can actually do things in the class versus a discussion of theory and simply watching a demonstration.

That’s actually quite unusual for a home repair class; usually it’s a demo and discussion, and students go home to try things out on their own. I’ve set up an environment that gives folks the opportunity to actually do the work, versus just watching or talking about it.

This means they’ll retain more of the information, and feel more confident when they’re working on these repairs at home by themselves.

Who would benefit from taking this class?

I’ve had a wide variety of students throughout the history of these classes, but here are a few of the most common:

  • new homeowners
  • older homeowners who lost their repairing or maintenance partner
  • apartment managers
  • those interested in buying a home

But everyone is welcome, regardless of their backgrounds, and it’s a fun and supportive environment.

What has been an inspirational moment that has occurred during this class?

One of the projects that we work on is how to do basic electrical work. It involves wiring a light bulb, and when they complete the project — and the bulb lights up — they’re eyes often do, too!

It’s a great metaphor for their own learning, and teaching them how capable they really are. Electrical work can seem daunting, and learning the basics can be truly empowering.

Key Takeaways

  1. Gain a basic understanding of your house as a system
  2. Improve your understanding of plumbing and electrical
  3. Learn how to do calking and plasterboard projects
  4. Get guidance on how to work smart and safely
  5. Learn how to communicate effectively with professionals

Recommended Resources

I provide my students with a resource sheet so they’ll know who is reputable to work with in the area, but here are a few tips to consider when you’re looking for guidance online or from a book:

  • If you’re watching a project on TV or YouTube, realize that the time is condensed and your project will actually take a lot longer than how it’s presented
  • Check who is producing a home improvement show, book, or guide to ensure that they’re a reputable source of information
  • Large home improvement stores often have great how-to guides for projects
  • Your home’s design or materials may differ from what is presented in the show, book, or guide, so be certain to review it thoroughly before you start

Most importantly, don’t take on any projects that you don’t feel you have the skills to complete! But if you do, and you need to work with a pro to finish it, you can learn great skills in communicating with them in my class.

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