Business: The Sound of America Hammering

Do-it-yourselfers are beating high costs at home

Most home handymen used to be harmless basement tinkerers who whiled away their leisure hours building knotty-pine bookshelves. No longer. With a vigor born of economic necessity, more and more Americans are pushing themselves away from the TV set and doing their own home improvements. Risking blackened thumbnails and sawdust-filled eyes, they are installing bathrooms, insulating attics and renovating whole houses. Do-it-yourselfers this year are expected to spend nearly $28 billion, about three times as much as just seven years ago.

The major reason most people pick up a hammer is the high cost of...

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