Beyond DIY: Where can I get educated on becoming a better renovator?
October 5, 2010 1:30 PM   Subscribe

I've been renovating my house for about a year (and spent my childhood doing this stuff with my dad), and I'm starting to think that I really like this work. Where can I go for almost-but-not-quite-pro-level classes and hands-on education in stuff like residential wiring, conforming to code, hanging drywall, landscaping, etc?

I live in Phoenix, AZ and I'm really hoping that there's something I can do in-person, because I feel like I've gone as far as the Internet and DIY Network can take me.

My local community college offers classes, but all but the most basic ones require that you apprentice with the state builder's association, and so I don't think it's intended for people like me. I definitely have thought about this as a someday-maybe career change, but for the moment I just want to dig deeper, learn more, and make my house kick even more butt.
posted by m_lazarus to Home & Garden (8 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
There's an organization that sounds like exactly what you're looking for here in St. Louis called the Rehabber's Club. Perhaps they're affiliated with a larger organization, or can turn you on to some nationwide resources.
posted by slogger at 1:39 PM on October 5, 2010

I wonder if volunteering with Habitat for Humanity would be a good option — I volunteered with a similar program for a short time, although gutting flood-damaged houses instead of building them, and I really enjoyed the hands-on experience of figuring out how a house works.
posted by dreamyshade at 1:49 PM on October 5, 2010

You should call the CC, if you haven't, and check -- I took a residential wiring class intended for people in apprenticeships, just because I wanted to. If they had space left, they were willing to let random folks like me in in many of the "trades" classes.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 2:03 PM on October 5, 2010

And why not get into one of the apprenticeship programs? Do you think you're too old? Or do you have advanced degrees? No matter! There is apparently a national shortage of electricians and plumbers and they make good money. One of my sons dropped out of a PhD program (at Arizona State) and is now happily working as an electrician in NY.

You could also see about licensing requirements for general contractors. The licensing test I looked into in another state essentially required you to be adept at looking up building codes for specific situations.
posted by mareli at 2:11 PM on October 5, 2010

It's probably much too low level for what you're looking for, but my mother has done a surprising amount of home remodeling and landscaping herself using almost nothing but Home Depot DIY workshops and Lowes' How To guides and workshops. She used to be an architect, but pretty much picked up the building-type skills this way.
posted by sawdustbear at 2:12 PM on October 5, 2010

Why not just get a job doing it? Get paid while you learn. It's not like the bar is real high, just walk up to Melvin there on the jobsite and ask him for a job.
posted by dancestoblue at 3:25 PM on October 5, 2010

habitat for humanity can always use the help, and you'll get better opportunities to learn a variety of trades. Don't try to get a job by walking on to a jobsite.
posted by Chris4d at 10:27 PM on October 5, 2010

Eyebrows McGee speaks the truth.
posted by WeekendJen at 2:07 PM on October 6, 2010

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