I love books more than most people, and I'm one of those old-fashioned types who think digital formats will never be better than the classic tome. But, in some circumstances, the Internet is preferable to any book.
One such instance is when you need quick advice on a fix or repair in your home. Short of having on hand a nice, extensive reference book, the Internet's got it over books. With Web sites like DoItYourself.com, where you can get tips on just about any home-improvement subject you can think of, not to mention interior-design and landscaping suggestions, the Internet's the first place you want to look. From how to install a sprinkler system to refinancing your home, DoItYourself.com can get you plugged in.
When judging blogs and Web sites, in some cases, it's more important to look at quality of content rather than quantity. HomeImprovementBlog.net is a case in point. This site has only been around since 2006, so the archives aren't extensive, and the site does suffer from some broken links. Yet, the topics are plainly written and informative without an overuse of jargon. Best of all may be the site's pool of blogs. Each blogger is supposed to only write on topics they have expertise in, so it's unlikely that you'll be exposed to a writer overreaching what they know. Also, since the site has so many bloggers contributing, there's frequently fresh material. Altogether, HomeImprovementBlog.net takes advantage of the communal upside of blogging: different voices with different, valid things to say, all under one shingle.
One of the interesting Web movements in the last few years has been houseblogs — blogs where homeowners document their struggles and successes in renovating an old home — and one of the most interesting houseblogs out there is HouseInProgress.net. The site is run by Aaron and Jeannie, a couple from Chicago who, in 2003, bought a 1914 bungalow in need of restoration and stuffed full of accumulated odds and ends. (Many of the things they found are for sale on the site's virtual estate sale.) Aaron and Jeannie have kept a daily diary of their frustrations with the house, what they've done to it, what they've found, and their answers to the questions they get from the site's fans from around the world. It's worth frequent visits.
Another very good houseblog is PetchHouse.blogspot.com, an account of a renovation of a Victorian home in California. The blog includes such fascinating (and funny) subjects as the owner comparing 1895 building materials to today's, extensive deconstruction/reconstruction projects, and getting the house named to a local list of historical places (and with lots of pictures throughout). It's hard not to learn something when you read it. ■ — GA