Best Home Improvement Websites

Light fixtures in modern kitchen
Roberto Westbrook / Getty Images

Which home improvement sites should you check out?  All of the site below have real substance, and you can count on this.  And just to make everything sound truly objective, we tell you one thing about each site that could be improved:

Retro Renovation

Retro Renovation is your source for all home remodeling matters related to the mid-century modern period.  Pam Kueber's enthusiasm is evident in every article of this fantastic site.

 Keep in touch, too, with Pam's renovation of her 1951 colonial-ranch house in Lenox, Massachusetts.

Improvement Needed:

It's hard to find fault with Pam's site, other than there just isn't enough of the site!  More posts needed!

This Old House

What?  After chugging away for 37 seasons--yes, three-seven--this mainstay of PBS is still pretty good?  Yes it is.

TOH's website, rather than being a mere adjunct to the TV series, is a force to be reckoned with on its own.  With lots of (free) video tutorials, TOH's site is a one-stop shopping place for matters as easy as sharpening lawn mower blades and as complex as building a tiled shower.

Improvement Needed:

TOH seems absolutely committed to never leaving the border of the State of Massachusetts.  Think this is exaggeration?  Hardly.  It took them thirty years to get to New York and thirty-two years to get to Los Angeles.

Come on, TOH:  aren't there other places in this world that have homes that need remodeling?

Hammerzone

Don't let its pre-millennium graphics fool you, Hammerzone has got to be the most hands-on, "real" home improvement sites.  Who knows, maybe the low graphics are part of the appeal.  I kind of like the style.

For any undecided DIYers out there, Hammerzone will be intimidating.  Hammerzone covers a lot of the heavy stuff like house siding and foundation work that other sites do not cover.

Improvement Needed:

Its utilitarian style, previously interesting and even vaguely noble, has worn thin.  Someone needs to tell owner Bruce Maki that he doesn't need to hand-code HTML anymore.  There are website aids like Wordpress and Squarespace now.

Houzz

Houzz has gone from being just pretty pictures of houses to being a site with articles of real substance.  Still, the true beating heart of Houzz is the members' forums.

Improvement Needed:

Lately, Houzz has become way more focused on selling stuff.

Family Handyman

Family Handyman is surprisingly good at dispensing home remodeling advice.  Emphasis on "surprise," because this site is owned by Reader's Digest.  A very middle-of-the-road advice spot for home remodeling topics, that anyone can get into.  Excellent graphics.

Improvement Needed:

Family Handyman's images are amazingly tiny and hard to decipher, in addition to being outdated.

Taunton's Fine Homebuilding

One of my favorites--in the print version, though.  This is a stellar source of information, mainly geared to professionals (remodelers welcome, too) or for DIY'ers who want a more serious take on the issue.  In recent years, Taunton's has dispensed with much off their hoity-toity airs and has come down (almost) to the level of real people.

Improvement Needed:

Taunton's has so few free articles, and they keep trying to push you through a paywall (i.e., get you to pay for a membership).  Still, Taunton's is worth a look even for those few free pieces.

Bob Vila

Bob Vila long ago gave up This Old House and is now an industry called Bob Vila.  He also kind of gave up on any kind of hands-on home remodeling, and now he is solely a shill for Sears, Lumber Liquidators, and other big name companies.

That said, he still deserves a place on this list as Home Remodeler Emeritus.  As you might expect, he really excels with videos--scads of videos on his site, and all quite good. 

Improvement Needed:

His site tends to be very slow, due to the heavy graphics.  Great information, but you will need to wade through muck to get to the gold.