Want to know where everyone goes after dark? Home Depot, Menards, Lowe’s and other home improvement stores with late-night, or even 24/7 hours.

And just try to find someone to help you between the hours of 11:00PM and 3:00AM, which are some of the busiest of the day. Hordes of homeowners roam the aisles looking for a nugget of information plus the tools they need to get a job done.

And what jobs they are. While homeowners have always tackled small fixer-upper projects, like replacing a broken lock, or installing an electric garage door opener, the projects aren’t so small anymore.

Mark just finished installing a brand new floor in his brand new kitchen. While he hired a contractor to do much of the work, he and his wife did a fair amount themselves. His sister, Sarah, and her husband, renovated most of their home themselves.

Steve and Brenda renovated their century-old townhouse themselves over 10 years. They recently bought a two-flat building, moved in, and are plotting their next renovation.

Ian is about to embark on a cosmetic face-lift for his 3-bedroom, 2 bath townhouse. The work, which he hopes to complete over the next few months, includes everything from replacing bathroom tile, to repainting and recarpeting the entire house. The exterior wood on the home also needs to be replaced and painted. He is considering doing much of the work himself.

Gerhard recently spend several weekends rewiring outlets. During his recent home renovation, the electrical engineer designed, bought, and installed almost all of the lighting for his 4-bedroom home.

With hundreds of billions of dollars being spent, home improvement has turned out to be the business of the millennium. And with more quality information available, plus places to purchase equipment and supplies, homeowners are tackling many of these renovations with renewed vim and vigor.

Not that the equipment and tool manufacturers haven’t noticed. You can spend anywhere from $1 on a hammer to one that will run you more than $20. Need a table saw? You can spend less than $100 to more than $400.

The public perception is that the more expensive tool with be a tool “for life.” And, more homeowners are willing to shell out the bucks for what they perceive will be a lifetime of home improvement projects.

Homeowners also rationalize that the higher cost means a tool that will somehow make amore complicated project easier to complete. Hoping to capture additional dollars from this market, Home Depot recently re-introduced its Rigid Tool line, selling everything from a goofy looking hammer to table saws, a wet-dry vacuum system, belt sanders and more.

How does the equipment perform? I recently had several people test out their equipment.

Janusz Piotruowski, a carpenter, thought the hammer looked silly and didn’t perform as well as the old-fashioned version. He was, however, impressed with the table saw. My husband, Sam, used the sander to polish the edges of four pieces of limestone needed to finish off our shower enclosure, then cleaned up the whole mess with the powerful wet-dry vacuum.

Do better tools make for a better finished product? Well, it’s sure easier to plane a hunk of wood if you have a top-of-the-line planer to do the job, than if you’re using a century-old planer and doing it by hand.

Plus, if you burn the pieces you used to “test out the equipment,” no one will ever know how long it took you to get it right.

Which is just another benefit of doing the job yourself.