If you live in a desert or semi-desert region, you’ve probably looked into some of the methods for gardening with less water.  If you live in a city, nearly everything comes from afar, and too few of us have considered how to provide for our own food, water, medicine etc.   When you learn ho…

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Dear James: It's a mess carrying firewood indoors, so I want to modernize my old brick fireplace with one that uses gas logs. Are there any tips on how to do this project myself? -- Kathy H.

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Dear James: An architect is almost finished with the plans for my house. I need to select a good general contractor, but have heard of many potential problems. What is the best way to insure a good job? -- Julie F.

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Dear James: We are downsizing to a new house. We are trying to determine the best colors to paint the rooms to make it look more spacious. What do you recommend for various rooms? -- Renee K.

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Dear James: We have vinyl kitchen flooring which is badly worn. We think a ceramic tile floor would look good and wear well. Can this be put over any old floor and what are some installation tips? -- Michael T.

We're always interested in hearing about news in our community. Let us know what's going on!

Dear James: I am remodeling two rooms. I hung and finished drywall in one room, but there are shadow lines at many joints. Do you have any joint finishing tips to create flat, hidden joints? -…

Most local residents are grateful for the recent rains, despite the many problems that it caused, such a flooding and auto accidents.

Dear James: The wood frame windows in my vintage house are pretty deteriorated. I want to repair them, not replace them, to maintain its character. What repairs to them can I do myself? -- Don H.

Dear James: I want to add a bathroom vent fan with an overhead light. The window does not provide enough light. What are some tips for installing one and venting it up through the the roof? --…

Dear James: All my children have allergies. We are planning to build a new house and I need to avoid the "sick house syndrome" from poor indoor air quality. What things should I consider for i…

Dear James: I have always liked cedar closets and want to add a small one in my bedroom. How do I build a closet with cedar wood and how do I maintain the cedar scent for years? -- Jamie P

Dear James: We decided to install wallpaper in our kitchen. It installed easily and looked great, but started coming loose in less than a year. Could it be from bad wallpaper or our applicatio…

Dear James: I am converting my garage into a playroom. I watched videos on how to hang drywall, but I want to avoid mistakes. What common problems arise when hanging drywall for the fist time …

Dear James: I have made many cosmetic improvements to my kitchen. Adding some new upper cabinets would be the finishing touch. What is the best way to install them for a professional look? -- …

Dear James: We need more security that just the three floodlights we now have. I thought about getting some motion-sensing ones. How difficult is it to install these new lights myself? -- Elaine H.

Dear James: We have some crushed and stained spots in our dining room carpeting. The rest of the carpeting is okay. What is the bet way to repair these damages spots without total replacement?…

Dear James: A neighbor recently added some ornamental wood trim to her house and it looks great. I want to add some to my house, but I don't want more to maintain. Is urethane trim a good subs…

Dear James: I have a slightly curved concrete walkway from my driveway to my front door. I am on a limited budget, but I would like to jazz it up with some trim or something. What would you re…

Dear James: We would like to install a new classy real stained wood front door. I would like an attractive, secure lockset to go with it, but there are so many to choose from. Which are best? …

Dear James: During winter, I feel a breeze coming down the fireplace chimney even with the hearth damper closed. Also, I think raccoons and bats get down in there. Will installing a chimney-to…

Dear James: I need to paint my house which has wood siding. The paint is in pretty bad shape. What is the proper way to scrape and prepare the wood surface so the paint will stay on longer and…

Dear James: The grout in my bathroom tile is discolored and crumbling in spots. It look terrible. Do I have to remove all the tiles and start over or can I just repair the existing grout? -- Tracy G.

Dear James: I grill on the propane barbecue for quick meals. For entertaining, I would like an attractive brick barbecue that uses real charcoal. What design can an inexperienced homeowner bui…

Dear James: The wood on my deck needs some repairs. It is four feet off the ground and made of pressure-treated lumber, so I thought it would last longer. How do I go about checking and repair…

Dear James: My girls never completely close the shower curtain and the floor gets wet. There are walls on each end, so adding a shower door would be good. Is this a project I can do myself? --…

Dear James: I have noticed the paint job on the exterior of my house looks terrible in some spots. My house has lap siding which we installed ourselves. There is blistering in certain spots th…

Dear James: My yard is level, so I think I can install a board fence myself. I was considering a board and batten style. What other board fence styles are there? I could use some building tips…

Dear James: We are planning to build a new home in three years. Our current house is noisy inside. What can we do to soundproof our existing house and make sure our new house is not as noisy? …

Dear James: My window and door screens are an absolute mess from the kids and the dog. Some are on metal and others on wood frames. How can I repair these screens myself to keep the mosquitoes…

Dear James: I really need to organize my bedroom. I have noticed how organized my friend's room is. Do you have any suggestions for some easy-to-install shelves that won't take up my already l…

Dear James: I am thinking of putting up a fence around my yard. I don't need it to keep an animal in, but I would like to keep children from wandering in. I am worried about blocking my neighb…

Dear James: We get too much glare and heat through our dining room window. I installed window film in my former house, but it looked a mess. Do you have any installation tips so that it looks …

Dear James: I noticed a small drip coming from one of the steel pipes under my kitchen sink. I have called a professional to fix small leaks and they have replaced the entire pipe. Is it feasi…

Dear James: We have a large raised sun deck in our backyard and we were hoping to make it not-so-sunny at times. It often is too hot in the sun and we end up back inside with the air-condition…

Dear James: We have a large raised sun deck in our backyard and we were hoping to make it not-so-sunny at times. It often is too hot in the sun and we end up back inside with the air-condition…

Dear James: I noticed a friend's brick walkway and how nice it makes her landscaping look. Is this a long, expensive project to have a contractor install, or do you think I could handle it wit…

Dear James: The cats and kids have scratched all the trim around the doors and windows, and I would like to spruce things up with new trim. Is this a job I can tackle myself with standard hand…

Dear James: I am getting ready to paint my children's bedrooms. I went to the home center and there are hundreds of brushes to choose from. What are the best types of brushes or rollers to use…

Dear James: We, especially the kids, like to feed and watch birds in the backyard. Do you have any suggestions for snazzy birdhouses that will attract birds to my yard? -- Andy A.

Dear James: We have a patio and a deck in the backyard. Often, when the kids run on them, they complain about the surface hurting their feet. Is there a water resistant, soft carpet-type of co…

Dear James: There are quite a few minor landscaping and repair jobs I need to do that require the use of concrete. I have never worked with it before. What are some general tips to get me star…

Dear James: I just bought an older, turn-of-the-century house. Most of the interior woodwork needs to be stripped and refinished. I cannot get all of the pieces loose. What is the best method …

Dear James: My house is fairly small and I want to add a skylight to the living room to open it up. The problem is that there is an attic above it. Is there a way to still add a skylight in th…

Dear James: I bought an old house that needs a lot of work. It looks like most of the doors and cabinets will need new hinges. There are many types of hinges to choose from. What is the best t…

Dear James: I am ready to put up drywall in an at-home office for my business. I have put up drywall before to divide one large bedroom into two, but the joints look bad. This room must look b…

Dear James: My kids have thrown one too many baseball and soccer ball at my wood entry door. My house has aluminum siding. Is replacing an entry door a typical do-it-yourself job? -- Andy E.