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BEST RESOURCE FOR NEW HOMEOWNERS Minneapolis 1999 -

Not only will these fine folks sell you a century-old door at a plebeian cost (unlike most local "salvage" centers), they'll teach you how to hang it. Or how to install windows. Or insulation. Or lay tile. Or refinish floors. All those improvements you thought were minor, simple repairs when you bought your early American barn but can't fathom surviving now. The low-cost classes offered by this Lake Street nonprofit--an offshoot of Minneapolis's Green Institute--cover an amazing array of topics in their basement classroom. Even better, unlike those cable-TV fix-it gurus, Reuse Center staff don't assume you know what a soffit is or how to remove an old window so you can put a new one in. Offerings are constantly changing and staffers can no doubt describe the current crop to callers, but it's worth your while to stop in and pick up a flyer and get a look at the surprising array of "pre-owned" building materials available. Plagued by mosquitoes last summer, we bought a bat house here for six dollars. The enterprising person who rang up the transaction not only suggested we call the U's extension service for help on attracting bats to live in it, she dug up a flyer on where to hang the house up and photocopied it for us. Tax-deductible donations of materials and funds are always welcome; do call before dropping off supplies to see whether they're reusable.

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