Why Penn Foster?

  • Accredited
  • Self-Paced
  • Supportive
  • Low monthly payments

Program Overview

Train effectively and conveniently with our online Home Remodeling and Repair Career Diploma Program. Opportunities in this field are expected to grow 24%, much faster than average, over the coming years.¹ You’ll learn everything from basic blueprint layouts and framework to advanced techniques such as tiling and cabinetry, as well as how to start your own renovation business. Did you know that the average salary in this field is $39,940?¹ And you can complete this program in as little as four months!

Curriculum Details

Program Goal and Outcomes

Program Goal

To prepare students for an entry-level career at the apprentice level in the residential construction and remodeling field.

Program Outcomes

Upon completion of the program, students will be able to:

  • Discuss licensing requirements, local building codes, and the need for inspections
  • Draw and follow blueprints and building plans to meet the needs of clients
  • Understand procedures for installing structures and fixtures, such as windows and molding
  • Understand procedures for measuring, cutting, and shaping wood, plastic, and other materials
  • Understand procedures for constructing building frameworks, including walls, floors, and doorframes
  • Describe methods for waterproofing and insulating old foundation walls
  • Discuss how to inspect and replace damaged framework or other structures and fixtures
  • Understand some of the potential problems unique to older homes
  • Identify different grades and sizes of lumber, engineered lumber products, and commonly used fasteners
  • Understand safe practices for using ladders, ladder jacks, trestles, horses, and power tools
  • Describe the components of the main electrical panel and calculate the placement of outlets in a room
  • Understand the principal plumbing considerations in remodeling old houses and the operating principles of various heating systems
  • Discuss the main considerations that go into designing a functional kitchen, especially the work triangle
  • Identify the most common considerations for remodeling a bathroom, including the importance of proper venting and common types of lighting, fixtures, and floor coverings

Unit 1

Starting Your Program

Succeed by learning how to use your Penn Foster program.

Objectives:

  • Understand how to use your Student Portal, including your My Homepage and My Courses pages.
  • Access the Penn Foster Community and use it to find answers.
  • Connect with Penn Foster on various social media sites.
Introduction to Home Remodeling

This lesson will introduce you to the home remodeling field.

Objectives:

  • Understand the roles played by general contractors, subcontractors, and employees.
  • Name the trade associations affiliated with the home remodeling industry.
  • Describe how market trends, knowledge, skills, and customer satisfaction affect employment opportunities.
  • Discuss licensing requirements, local building codes, and the need for inspections.
  • Describe the different types of insurance needed to protect the remodeling contractor, employees, and the homeowner.

Unit 2

Home Renovation

In this lesson, you’ll examine several philosophies that attempt to define the roles of the preservationist, restorer, remodeler, and renovator. This information will help you determine which specialty best matches your interests.

Objectives:

  • Understand some of the potential problems unique to older homes.
  • Help your customer make an educated decision on purchasing a particular house.
  • Work with a customer to define, identify, and establish priorities.
  • Follow the steps necessary to design and implement a master plan.
Practical Exercise: Home Evaluation

The purpose of this practical exercise is to help you apply your knowledge to some real-life situations. You’ll be presented with various scenarios that you might encounter during a house evaluation. A renovation checklist form is included for your use.

Additional Unit Material

Textbook: Renovating Old Houses

Unit 3

Building Materials and Fasteners

In this lesson, you’ll study how lumber is grown, cut, dried, and sawed for use in the construction industry.

Objectives:

  • Name the parts of a tree trunk and state their functions.
  • Describe methods of cutting logs into lumber.
  • Identify common hardwoods and softwoods and their characteristics.
  • Identify different grades and sizes of lumber.
  • Explain the differences between engineered panels and engineered lumber products.
  • List commonly used fasteners.
Tools and Scaffolds

Every day, modern carpenters rely on hand tools, portable power tools, and stationary power tools to complete a wide variety of tasks. Tools enable carpenters to accomplish complex tasks with a minimum of labor and a maximum of accuracy.

Objectives:

  • Identify and use common hand tools.
  • Understand safety rules for operating portable power tools.
  • Use the different types of circular saw blades.
  • Explain the different types of cuts made with different kinds of saws.
  • Identify components of both wood and metal scaffolds.
  • Safely use ladders, ladder jacks, trestles, and horses.
Additional Unit Material

Textbook: Carpentry

Unit 4

Understanding Construction Drawings

As a home remodeler, you must be able use simple drawings and sketches to translate your ideas. You also need to develop the basic skills required to interpret more professional drawings related to large installation projects.

Objectives:

  • Identify symbols, abbreviations, and specifications commonly used in the construction industry.
  • Interpret the drawings typically included in a set of plans.
  • Discuss elements of floor and roof frames.
  • Identify common carpentry plan details.
  • Describe features of heating, air conditioning, plumbing, and electrical plans.
Site Preparation, Building Layout, and Foundations

Every addition needs a base or foundation to support the structure. Subcontractors are usually hired for excavation and to pour the footings, slabs, and walls. Nevertheless, it’s important for the home remodeler to have a thorough understanding of how foundations are laid out, excavated, and built—as well as the tools used to accomplish such tasks.

Objectives:

  • Use levels to establish elevations and lay out angles.
  • Describe procedures for building batter boards.
  • Identify materials used to reinforce concrete.
  • Understand how various forms are constructed.
  • List several common methods for solving water infiltration problems.
  • Describe a few methods for waterproofing and insulating old foundation walls.
Additional Unit Materials

Textbook: Blueprint Reading and Sketching for Carpenters

Equipment:

  • Mechanical drawing kit
  • Blueprints
  • Graph paper

Unit 5

Floor, Wall, and Stair Framing

The frame of a house must be strong enough to carry its own weight; the weight of the walls, floors, and roof; and the weight of furniture, other movable materials, and occupants. In addition, the frame must resist wind, rain, and in some areas of the country, earthquakes and heavy snows.

Objectives:

  • Identify and describe the function of each part of a wall frame.
  • Identify the framing members of platform, balloon, and post-and-beam frames.
  • Construct a floor frame.
  • Employ techniques to prevent destruction caused by wood pests.
  • Cut, lay out, and install ceiling joists.
  • Frame and build stairs.
Roof Framing

As a home remodeler, you’ll have to plan, build, and tie in the roof of any addition you build. For this reason, it’s essential to understand how various types of roofing systems are constructed.

Objectives:

  • Describe several roof styles and define roof framing terms.
  • Identify the framing members of several styles of roofs.
  • Lay out and frame several styles of roofs.
  • Apply roof sheathing.
Additional Unit Materials

Video: Framing Floors & Stairs

Unit 6

Cornices and Roofing

The lower edge of the roof and the top of the exterior wall are often fitted with a series of horizontal members that form a structure commonly known as a cornice. In this lesson, you’ll study a number of different cornice styles, along with the methods for properly building and venting each. You’ll also study various types of gutters and downspouts that serve to carry water down and away from the house.

Objectives:

  • Identify various types of cornices, gutters, and downspouts.
  • Construct cornices.
  • Discuss various roofing materials and their functions.
  • Install flashing on a roof.
  • List the steps involved in estimating roofing materials.
  • Describe procedures for locating and repairing a roof leak.
  • Perform common techniques for safely stripping a roof.
Windows, Doors, and Siding

In recent years, the remodeling and construction industry has witnessed a virtual explosion of new window technologies. Such new technologies enable manufacturers to produce weathertight, efficient, low-maintenance window units, adaptable to both the new-home and remodeling markets at very affordable prices.

Objectives:

  • Install various types of windows.
  • Describe the standard designs and sizes of exterior doors and door frames.
  • Install hinges and locksets.
  • Hang an exterior door.
  • Identify several methods of preventing heat loss.
  • List several types of siding, along with their characteristics.
Insulation and Drywall Installation

The majority of the projects you’ll undertake as a home remodeler will require some sort of drywall work, so acquiring basic drywall skills is a must. A DVD provided with your textbook demonstrates proper techniques for measuring and cutting, hanging and taping, and mixing joint compound to the correct consistency.

Objectives:

  • Lay out and estimate a drywall job.
  • Cut and hang drywall panels.
  • Tape and apply joint compound.
  • Explain how to reduce and minimize ridging.
  • Use various techniques for repairing drywall and plaster.
  • Install insulation.
Interior Finish

With the exception of drywall, finish trim is the most visible facet of interior construction. This lesson will introduce you to the methods and procedures for installing interior finishes.

Objectives:

  • Install interior doors and trim.
  • Mount hinges and install locksets.
  • Identify standard moldings and describe their uses.
  • Cut and install various moldings and trims.
  • Name various stair finish parts and describe their location and function.
  • Assemble a housed stringer staircase.
  • Install handrails and balusters.
Additional Unit Materials

Textbook: Drywall: Professional Techniques for Great Results

Video: Drywall: Hanging and Taping

Unit 7

Wiring

Almost every interior remodeling project you undertake will entail some work with electrical components — even if it's only replacing a switch or receptacle. This lesson will introduce you to some of the fundamentals of electricity and to a variety of simple wiring tasks.

Objectives:

  • Identify the elements of electricity and how current flows.
  • Name the most common wiring material used in residential wiring.
  • Describe the components of the main panel.
  • Calculate the placement of outlets in a room.
  • Understand the purpose of overcurrent protection.
  • List several types of fuses and breakers.
  • Identify several appliances that require individual branch circuits.

*Before beginning any electrical work in your area, be sure to check the local codes governing electrical installation.

Plumbing and Heating

As a home remodeler, you’ll encounter many situations in which existing plumbing will have to be repaired, upgraded, extended, relocated, or replaced.

Objectives:

  • Describe rough plumbing tasks.
  • Identify the principal fixtures, fittings, and pipes found in most homes.
  • Understand the primary considerations related to sizing pipe.
  • Use the proper procedures for cutting and joining copper pipe.
  • Install bathroom fixtures.
  • Understand the principal plumbing considerations in remodeling old houses.
  • Install common kitchen fixtures.
  • Describe the operating principles of various heating systems.

*Before beginning any plumbing work in your area, be sure to check the local codes governing plumbing.

Kitchen Design: Cabinets, Appliances, and Fixtures

Many different skills are required to successfully complete a kitchen remodeling project.

Objectives:

  • Understand the concept of the work triangle.
  • Explain the differences between styles of kitchens and kitchen cabinets.
  • Use a product manual and identify cabinet designators.
  • Work with the most common countertop materials.
  • Use different methods for lighting a kitchen.
  • Discuss the main considerations that go into designing a functional kitchen.
  • Use perspective drawing in your kitchen designs.
Bathroom Cabinets, Fixtures, and Design

Today’s bathrooms are carefully planned to be functional, roomy, and aesthetically pleasing. Home remodelers are frequently asked to design and install modern bathrooms in older homes.

Objectives:

  • Identify the most common considerations for remodeling a bathroom.
  • Understand the importance of proper venting and ventilation.
  • Install tubs, showers, toilets, and sinks.
  • Describe the advantages associated with various bathroom countertop materials.
  • Install common types of lighting, fixtures, and floor coverings.
Drawing Plans, Estimates, and Contracts

Learn how to draw a simple plan, estimate the cost of materials and labor, and complete a contract. It’s important to understand how to calculate all the costs associated with a proposed project. After a contract is signed, your customers are responsible only for extra costs that stem from changes they make to the terms of the original contract. So any mistakes or forgotten items will cost you money out of pocket. You need to explain every detail of the project in writing. An explicit, signed agreement protects you and your customers, should differences of opinion occur on any part of the project.

Objectives:

  • Discuss a customer’s needs, goals, and expectations.
  • Produce the two types of drawings commonly used to show details.
  • Identify the most common types of jobs to be subcontracted.
  • Explain what is meant by a draw schedule.
  • Calculate expenses related to a project.
  • Identify the major categories that should be included in a bid.
  • List items that should be included in a home remodeling contract.
Practical Exercise: Project Designing and Preparation

The purpose of this practical exercise is to help you apply your knowledge to some real-life situations. You'll use your graph paper and drawing kit. The exercise has been broken down into five different activities.

Objectives:

  • Draw a kitchen layout and fill in the appropriate cabinet sizes and types, along with the appliances, to create a functional kitchen.
  • Lay out cabinets and fixtures in a new bathroom.
  • Lay out a wiring diagram for the new kitchen and bath you’ve designed. Your design will include such elements as task lights, general lighting, circuits, switches, and outlets.
  • Draw a plan for waste and water supply lines for your new bathroom and kitchen.
  • Use your material specifications and cost sheets to prepare a detailed contract.
Additional Unit Materials

Textbooks:

  • Wiring a House
  • Plumbing
  • The Complete Guide to Plumbing

Unit 8

Project: Remodeling a Basement

In this project, you’ll meet Mr. Smith, who plans to remodel his basement. You’ll evaluate his basement, identify potential problem areas, and draw a plan that satisfies Mr. Smith’s remodeling goals. After identifying all of the tasks and materials needed to remodel his basement, you’ll compile a comprehensive estimate of the project’s cost.

This project will teach you to test for moisture, fill cracks, waterproof walls and floors, and install a sump pump. You’ll also look at the proper procedures for building an insulated subfloor, framing walls, insulating and applying vapor barrier, and installing paneling. You’ll have a chance to review how to read wiring diagrams, as well as learn how to install electric baseboard heaters and new breakers. In addition, you’ll study the various components of a suspended ceiling and the proper techniques for installation.

Project: Remodeling a Bathroom

In this project, you’ll learn the procedures for remodeling a bathroom. The project will be a small, second bathroom in an older house. The bath isn’t original to the home, but was built into a bedroom, leaving a very cramped area in the bedroom itself. Although the original water supply lines were updated to copper, the stack and waste lines are cast.

This project will teach you to remove the existing bath fixtures, the existing floor, and the wall between the bath and the bedroom. Both the window in the rear of the bath and the entry door into the bath will be removed and relocated. Once all the preparations are complete, you’ll learn the step-by-step procedures for installing new fixtures, drywall, cabinets, flooring, wiring, and trim. You’ll be introduced to many new remodeling techniques, and review some skills with which you’re already familiar.

Project: Remodeling a Kitchen

This project will introduce you to the Johnsons, who would like to remodel the kitchen of their 35-year-old townhouse. The project begins with the assumption that you’ve already completed the first step in the remodeling process—that is, identifying the Johnsons’ wants and needs in the context of a working budget.

This project will teach you to plan and complete a series of drawings to show the Johnsons how you plan to execute their ideas, along with any suggestions you may have to meet their expectations. After your initial drawings have been completed and approved by the Johnsons, you’ll have a chance to review the necessary steps involved in completing the bid and drawing up the contract. Many of the skills you’ve already learned—such as drywall, plumbing, and wiring—will be put to use in the completion of the Johnsons’ remodeling project. You’ll also be introduced to techniques for accomplishing several new tasks, such as building and installing laminate countertops, installing kitchen cabinets, and framing and installing a sliding glass door. In addition, you’ll have an opportunity to learn how to build soffits over the kitchen cabinets to house recessed lighting fixtures, as well as how to install a cement board subfloor.

Practical Exercise: Remodeling Skills

The purpose of this practical exercise is to help you put into practice some of the skills you’ve learned about remodeling basements, bathrooms, and kitchens. Step-by-step instructions and illustrations will guide you through the exercise.

The exercise has been divided into seven different activities.

  • Evaluate a basement and note the limitations and obstacles that must be overcome to install finished interior floors and walls.
  • Perform a moisture test to check for excessive moisture and condensation in your basement.
  • Visit your local zoning office to inquire about codes that may affect basement remodeling in your area.
  • Wire a fixture between two three-way switches.
  • Identify various fittings used in waste, drain, and vent systems.
  • Work with and assemble various plumbing connections.
  • Build a small countertop covered with plastic laminate.
Additional Unit Materials

Video: Installing Kitchen Cabinets and Countertops

Unit 9

Project: Building an Addition with a Kitchen, Parts 1–4

The project described in this unit begins with the initial customer interview and a house evaluation, and then moves on to cover such topics as foundation layout and excavation, framing, tying in the addition, and inspections. Unlike those employed in the new-home industry, remodelers often work on homes that are occupied by their customers. As you’ll learn, being a successful home remodeler depends on not only your building skills, but also your customer relation skills. One of the most important skills you can learn, therefore, is to foresee and defuse problematic situations by keeping the lines of communication open and honest.

Because of the wealth of material covered, this project has been divided into seven parts spanning two units.

Part 1: Evaluation, design, estimate, contract, and permit phase of the remodeling process.

Part 2: Properly manage the foundation portion of a project and recognize a properly installed job.

Part 3: Frame the floor and then proceed to open up the back wall of the house and install a support beam. With the beam in place, the remainder of the framing can be completed.

Part 4: Safely support a gable end wall on a balloon frame structure; remove the sheathing and vertical studs; and build and install a beam to support the weight of the existing load.

Practical Exercise: Designing and Building a Two-Story Addition

The purpose of this practical exercise is to help you practice some of the skills you’ve learned in planning and building a kitchen addition. Step-by-step instructions, worksheets, and illustrations will guide you through the exercise. The exercise has been divided into five different activities.

  • Design various additions that conform to the shape and size of a ranch-style house.
  • Build a block wall consisting of 21 eight-inch blocks.
  • Calculate the slope of a roof.
  • Practice stepping off a common rafter to determine the length and location of the ridge cut, plumb seat cut, and finished rafter tail length.
  • Visit ongoing remodeling projects and talk with the contractors.
Additional Unit Materials

Videos:

  • Framing Walls
  • Framing Roofs

Unit 10

Project: Building an Addition with a Kitchen, Parts 5–7

This unit continues the kitchen project begun in Unit 9.

Part 5: Work on the plumbing, heating, and electrical connections that must be made before the interior walls can be closed in with drywall.

Part 6: Install insulation; hang the drywall; and paint the walls.

Part 7: Focus on the steps involved in completing the kitchen.

The Business of Home Remodeling

You’ve now learned the technical skills you need to be a successful home remodeler. Now you’ll learn how to run your business effectively.

Objectives:

  • Prepare a business plan for your new home-remodeling business.
  • Determine how much money you need to start a new business.
  • Prepare a loan proposal.
  • Understand the purpose of various business records and financial statements, and how to keep them.
  • Note the differences between subcontractors and employees and the procedures necessary for employing them.
Practical Exercise: Installing Ceramic Tile

The purpose of this practical exercise is to help you practice some of the skills you’ve learned in planning and building a kitchen addition. Step-by-step instructions, worksheets, and illustrations will guide you through the exercise. The exercise has been divided into three different activities.

  • Build a small bathroom countertop consisting of plywood laminated with backer board. To complete this activity, you’ll estimate the tile required to complete the job; lay out the job; cut and apply the tile; and finish the project by grouting and cleaning the entire top.
  • As an entry-level home remodeler, you must have a realistic concept of your strengths and weaknesses. A self-evaluation will help you identify skills that may require further development before you endeavor to open your own home-remodeling business.
  • Establish both short- and long-term goals, which you can review periodically to gauge your progress and track your future in the home-remodeling field.
Additional Unit Material

Video: Tiling Countertops


Computer Specifications
You will need high-speed internet access to begin your program. You will need access to a Microsoft® Windows® based computer running Windows XP® or later or an Apple® Mac® computer running OS X® or later, and an email account to complete your program with Penn Foster.

We reserve the right to change program content and materials when it becomes necessary.
Microsoft, Windows, and Windows XP are trademarks of Microsoft Corporation registered in the United States of America and/or other jurisdictions.
Apple, Mac, and OS X are trademarks of Apple, Inc registered in the United States of America and/or other jurisdictions.

Sample Lesson

To view a Home Remodeling and Repair sample lesson, click here.

Home Remodeling and Repair Program Details

Penn Foster will help you gain the knowledge and skills you need:

  • Evaluating interior and exterior areas of a house
  • Inspecting building materials for quality
  • Roof, floor, wall, and stair framing
  • Wiring, plumbing, and heating
  • Drawing plans, estimates, and contracts
online remodeling repair class

Home Remodeling and Repair professionals plan renovations, prepare contracts and estimates, and choose the right materials for the job. They use wood, drywall, concrete, and other building materials to update interior and exterior spaces. Here are a few qualities that effective home remodeling and repair workers have in common:

  • Detail oriented: It’s important to have a sharp eye and check things twice.
  • Problem solving: Finding the missing piece can be challenging and rewarding.
  • Creative: Restoring a home often requires imaginative thinking.
  • Persistent: You work until the job is done, and done well.
  • Honest: You are ethical in your work for customers.

Penn Foster is a great way to get ahead in a career and the way the program was set up, even the busiest person can get through it. I'm so glad I found Penn Foster.

- Guiseppe S., Penn Foster Graduate

I have had great feedback from my employer after my training from Penn Foster. I have also had other job offers. The knowledge that you learn is priceless. Penn Foster is an excellent school.

- Kenny B., Penn Foster Graduate

My overall experience with Penn Foster was great. You are allowed to go at your own speed, and the school gives encouragement to keep you going. I would recommend Penn Foster.

- James R., Penn Foster Graduate

We make sure you have everything you need:

  • Customized payment plans with 0% interest
  • Books and learning aids, including videos and a drawing kit
  • Study Planner App to customize your study plans and keep track of your progress
  • Instructional support from our world-class faculty
  • Access 24/7 to Penn Foster’s online campus, plus immediate membership in the Home Remodeling and Repair academic group
  • Your personalized online student homepage and learning portal
  • Additional resources such as our online library and career guidance from Career Cruising

What opportunities are there for hands-on training in this Penn Foster program?

The best way to improve your skills is to practice. This program includes practical exercises that will allow you to get hands-on experience by applying the skills you have learned.

More FAQs >

¹ Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, "Occupational Outlook Handbook," 2014-15 Edition, Carpenters, on the Internet  here.

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