Cable channels like HGTV and DIY Network have turned home repair projects into entertainment, but the do-it-yourself industry is extensive in online platforms too. In addition to the content available on YouTube, websites like Hometalk and Terry Love Plumbing and Remodel DIY and Professional Forum and podcasts like Fix It Home Improvement and Fix It 101 have solid followings.
But there is no point in watching and listening to all that content if you donâ€™t know how to use a simple power drill, said Stephanie Lombardi Werneken, director of new digital products at Trusted Media Brands, publisher of the magazine Family Handyman.
Trusted Media started the online Family Handyman DIY University in 2015, so people could take quick classes to learn things like how to buy and use a table saw, or how to drill into materials like wood or masonry. Each class can be completed in one to three hours, and the fee is less than $20. â€śThese basic classes are there so you can be safe, and not burn down the house,â€ť she said.
Premium courses are being offered for the first time this year, for $89 to about $200. They last a few weeks, and students can ask their instructors specific questions online. The courses include kitchen cabinetry making and building your own tiny house, and some courses come with blueprints and other materials.
About 70 percent of the nearly 4,000 students who have taken DIY Universityâ€™s online classes have been male, and students range in age from 35 to 70, Ms. Werneken said. Some of the older students have taken the class to fix up their homes before selling them, she said, but the younger students seem to have embraced a â€śDIY holistic-homeownership lifestyleâ€ť to mirror that of the popular hosts of some DIY television shows.
Raya Fliker, a homeowner in Port Monmouth, N.J., took a class on wood-finishing at DIY University, and also learned how to tile a kitchen backsplash. With her newfound knowledge, Ms. Fliker built a simple bench to fit into a small nook in her back entryway. She also built a plywood countertop to cover up a granite top on a kitchen island that she didnâ€™t like.
Ms. Fliker, a nurse and mother of three, preferred taking classes online, she said, because she could do it whenever she had time, and the instructors taught her specific tasks that she wanted to learn. â€śI have loved how every project has turned out, and my husband is now buying tools for me,â€ť said Ms. Flicker, who recently refurbished a mudroom for a friendâ€™s house.