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Developing self-reliant homeowners

Roxanna Thompson
Northern News Services
Published Wednesday, December 23, 2009

LIIDLII KUE/FORT SIMPSON - Malfunctioning furnace, clogged drain, faulty electrical outlet, aging weather-stripping, they're all problems that homeowners can face.

Sixteen Fort Simpson residents now know how to address and help prevent these problems thanks to a recent course. On Dec. 12 the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation held a home maintenance and repair course in the village.

NNSL photo/graphic

Millie Sibbeston, right, practises applying a bead of silicone with a caulking gun while Michael Modeste, a technical adviser, provides support during a home maintenance and repair course offered by the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation. - photo courtesy of Northwest Territories Housing Corporation

During the one-day course participants learned how to do basic repairs, preventative maintenance and increase the energy efficiency of their homes. The maintenance and repair course is one of four courses offered by the corporation that are prerequisites for people applying to the housing choices programs.

"We want independent homeowners, successful home owners," said Chris Hewitt, the district director for the corporation.

The course is designed to give current and potential homeowners some basic home maintenance skills so they can extend the life of their building and make it a safe place to live, said Hewitt.

"By providing a little bit of advice it will help save money for homeowners," he said.

Homeowners aren't expected to service and fix their own furnaces and hot water tanks or handle their own electrical repairs, there are qualified trades people who do that work, but there are steps they can take to make calls for repairs less frequent, said Hewitt.

The course offers a lot of good advice and tips for people who've applied to the housing choices programs regardless of their previous levels of experience.

"I feel it's the round table discussions where people really benefit," he said.

Participants who have specialties in certain areas, like plumbing, are able to share real life situations and solutions with the other clients, Hewitt said.

The course is held twice a year in the village after the corporation takes in applications. It's also offered at different times in other Deh Cho communities. With 16 participants the recent course in the village was the largest one the corporation has delivered.

Although it meant giving up part of his weekend, Kurt Tsetso, one of the participants, said he sees the benefits of the course.

Tsetso said he learned a lot of new information during the course about maintaining furnaces including how to change an air filter. The tips on how to keep a house heated while using less energy were also useful, he said.

All of the presenters including Tylor Bradbury, with the Fort Simpson Housing Authority, and Michael Modeste, a technical adviser with the corporation, did a good job and provided a lot of hands on learning opportunities, said Tsetso.

"I thought it was interesting. I think everyone who owns their own place should take it," he said.

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