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Some home remodelers seem to take a cavalier attitude towards jobs that should be carried out by licensed contractors. "How hard can it be?" they say, and tackle everything from structural building work to electrical and plumbing repairs. DIY remodeling is great, but there are lines you shouldn't even attempt to cross.

A contractor's license is much more than just a piece of paper. It's proof that the person performing work has the skills to complete a job to a high standard. Laws are in place that require only licensed contractors perform certain jobs for a reason. Without their professional experience, we would have a lot more structurally unsound buildings, electrical accidents and fires and burst pipes, to name just a few.

Are you still tempted to try DIY or hire an unlicensed contractor to shave a little off your bill? If you willfully do so, you may be in violation of the law and face a stiff fine on top of having to hire a licensed contractor to redo the work you've already paid for.

How can you know when to DIY and when to contact a licensed contractor? As a general rule, if a job poses a potential safety risk if poorly carried out, it is a job for a licensed contractor. If a job costs over a certain amount (in many areas, $500 is the limit), it may have to be done by a licensed contractor or carried out under their supervision.

Recently, authorities in California carried out a sting operation and caught 112 unlicensed contractors. Devoting time and resources to such an operation shows that the authorities take the issue seriously. Rick Lopez of the California Contractors State License Board later commented, ""if you are looking at an advertisement, you want to see if it has a contractors license number on it. If it doesn't, that should be a sign to you that they are not licensed." If they're not licensed, don't hire them. If a job requires a licensed contractor, don't DIY. You are not qualified to do the work and are breaking the law.

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