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When Not To DIY & Use A Licensed Contractor

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Some of us enjoy doing DIY jobs. We have the attitude that no job is too big or technical for the dedicated DIYer. That's an admirable stance to take, but there comes a time when you need to put the brakes on your ambition and take a hard look at a project. Do you have time to take it on? Are you qualified to do the job? Is it even legal for you to do the work?

Let's say you've decided you need to add on a home extension. It's just one room and you're a decent carpenter. You can take it slow and do it yourself. Or can you?

First of all, you will need to obtain a construction permit for a job that large. To get it, you will have to submit detailed plans and specifications. If they're not up to scratch, you won't get your permit and will have to try again. After you've received your construction permit, you will have to arrange for periodic inspections. If everything isn't up to code, you'll have to make the necessary alterations at every stage before you can go on.

Adding an extension isn't a one-person job. Wouldn't it be better to hire a licensed building contractor to oversee construction? You can still do some of the work yourself and save money, but your contractor will know all your local building codes and will help make sure you receive a construction permit on the first try and pass all your inspections. They will also oversee all the subcontractors needed to finish the job, saving you the trouble of finding concreters, electricians, roofers and other subcontractors.

Yes, you will have to pay a licensed contractor for their services, but it will be money well spent. Your project will be completed on time and on budget. Try to do it yourself and you will face costly delays and may even waste money when you have to redo substandard work after an inspection.

What about all those smaller DIY jobs? Be careful with anything that involves plumbing, gas hook-ups or electrical work. You may be able to do some small jobs, but many can legally only be performed by licensed contractors. Before you take on any DIY plumbing, gas or electrical work, check with your local authorities first. If it's not legal, don't do it.

Standing back and looking at the results of your DIY work can be very rewarding. It can be equally rewarding knowing you have made the right choices and hired licensed contractors when needed. In fact, part of the art of DIY building is knowing the difference between what you can do and what you should leave in the hands of the experts.

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