Guide to Volunteer Work

Fine Homebuilding contributor Larry Haun wrote the book, quite literally, on building a Habitat house. In his book, Larry writes, “It takes a significant amount of courage, effort, and time, not to mention a piece of land, some money, and help from friends to build an affordable house.” 

We can’t help boost your courage or free up your time, but we can provide the most essential information a volunteer needs to build a simple, comfortable house that anyone would be proud to live in.

Larry believes that an optimistic attitude is as important a tool on the job site as a hammer. Building a house is perhaps the most optimistic thing you can do. If you’re thinking about becoming a volunteer, browse this special collection before you roll up your sleeves and get to work.

Essentials

Nailing Basics
Despite the advent of nail guns, sometimes you still have to hit the nail on the head
Installing Drywall
How to keep the sheets flat and the seams to a minimum
Painting Solutions
Answers to common questions provide advice for professional results on your next interior paint job
A Safer Job Site

Safety

A Safer Job Site
OSHA and NAHB team up to identify the key safety issues for residential builders

Protecting Your Eyes
For $10 or less, comfortable eye wear will guard against common job-site hazards

Working Safely on the Roof
Complying with new OSHA fall-protection regulations takes more than the correct safety gear, it takes a commitment to using the gear correctly

Avoiding Accidents on the Tablesaw

Using Tools

Avoiding Accidents on the Tablesaw
Here's how to get the most from your saw without getting hurt

Nailing Basics
Despite the advent of nail guns, sometimes you still have to hit the nail on the head

Circular-Saw Basics
A sidewinder is the most important tool on the job site, but did anybody ever teach you how to use one safely and effectively?

Choosing and Using a Miter Saw
Read expert ratings and reviews on the latest miter saws, and learn how to get the most from your miter saw with how-to videos and articles.

10 Rules for Framing

Framing

10 Rules for Framing
Guidelines for working efficiently and knowing how good is good enough

Careful Layout for Perfect Walls
Everything from rafters to kitchen cabinets fits better when you get the walls square and the studs in the right places

Framing and Sheathing Floors
If you do the layout carefully and precut all the joists, the floor will go together quickly like a giant jigsaw puzzle

Laying Out Three-Tab Shingles

Roofing and Exterior Finishes

Laying Out Three-Tab Shingles
Spend a little time measuring and striking lines, and the rest is fairly easy

Roofing with Asphalt Shingles
There's more to laying three-tab shingles than just nailing them on as fast as possible

Vinyl Siding Done Right
If vinyl’s final, you’d best get the details right. A veteran builder shows how to make it water-resistant and attractive.

Baseboard Done Better

Basic Interior Carpentry

Baseboard Done Better
A veteran carpenter shows how to achieve first-class results with timesaving techniques

Installing Prehung Doors
An accurate level and a bucketful of shims will correct just about any out-of-plumb condition

Installing Kitchen Cabinets
Careful planning and knowing exactly where the framing is help factory-made cabinets go in quickly and easily for a custom look with no nasty surprises

Invisible Drywall Seams

Drywall

Invisible Drywall Seams
Create perfect walls with minimal mess, effort, and frustration

Installing Drywall
How to keep the sheets flat and the seams to a minimum

Hanging Drywall Overhead
Thoughtful layout and the right tools help to bring this task within reach

Ten Common Plumbing Mistakes

Plumbing and Electrical

Ten Common Plumbing Mistakes
A building inspector reviews the most frequent violations of the plumbing code

Installing a Kitchen Sink
From cutting a hole in the counter to attaching the faucets and drain, a master plumber shows the way

How to Replace a Toilet
Don't be intimidated. With this step-by-step guide, you can upgrade your toilet to a modern, water-saving commode

How to Install a Toilet
Reinforce the floor and use the right components for years of trouble-free service

A Primer on PVC Pipe
It's easy to work with, but you've still got to choose the right fittings and follow some basic rules

9 Common Wiring Mistakes and Code Violations
Some are illegal, some are dangerous, and some are both—but all are simple to avoid

Installing Electrical Boxes and ReceptaclesOnline Membership Required
Keep boxes straight and splices tight for safe, trouble-free circuits

Rough Electrical Wiring
Knowledge of the code and a few tricks ease wiring circuits for standard receptacles and lights

Laying a Tile Floor

Tilework

Laying a Tile Floor
Epoxy mastic on a plywood subfloor is a durable alternative to the traditional mortar-bed method

Tiling a Tub Surround
Substituting backer board for the traditional mortar bed makes the job easier without sacrificing durability

Tiling a Bathroom Floor
Cementitious backerboard speeds up the job, but start with a subfloor that is firm and flat

Grouting Tile
Choosing, mixing, applying and sealing the messy stuff that goes between tiles

Painting Solutions

Painting

Painting Solutions
Answers to common questions provide advice for professional results on your next interior paint job

Don't Skip the Primer
The right primer improves the look and longevity of a paint job

Painting Walls and Ceilings
A professional's tips for rolling and edging paint as efficiently as possible without making a mess