Tips for DIY home remodeling projects

As people spend more time at home, DIY projects are on the rise. But even if you’re trying your hand at doing it yourself, you need to meet certain local requirements.

A permit for any remodeling project is issued by the local building department. If you’re doing the work on your own, you should request the permit. If you’ve hired a contractor, they should request it as they are responsible for compliance.

Whether you need a permit depends on your project, but it’s not always cut and dried. For example, creating a new door or window typically requires one, but replacing a current one usually does not. Adding a skylight or getting new roof usually requires a permit, while replacing flooring or countertops does not. If you’re not sure whether you need one, it’s best to call the local building department to ask.

If you don’t get a permit when needed, you could end up with the local building inspector bringing your new bathroom project to a screeching halt before you’ve put in the toilet, and then having to pay an even higher fee. You could be required to dismantle everything you’ve built up to the point the inspector learns of your project, or you might be able to continue but have to pay a fine.

Another concern with skipping the permit hurdle is that some homeowners’ insurance policies require permits for remodeling, so building without one could void your policy.

In some localities, you can submit your application for a permit online. The amount of the fee and what information you need to provide both vary by the size of the project. Larger endeavors will require blueprints.

A building inspector will review your plans to ensure that you’re following local ordinances and building codes.

After your permit is issued, post it somewhere that’s easy to see, such as on your front window.

Throughout the duration of the project, an inspector will visit to confirm that the work is being managed according to plan. Depending on the city and the project, inspections are required at specific times.

The good news is if you do fail an inspection, you can fix it and have the inspection again.

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