Article by Jim Vogel,

The best tool any do-it-yourself home improvement enthusiast can arm themselves with is the knowledge that they probably don’t know it all. While what you can do yourself depends on your skill level, anyone who attempts a DIY home remodel would be wise to do their research and know exactly what they’re getting into before the first swing of the hammer. Here are some things any DIY’er can expect from a big household remodel

Expect to have to get some permits

Off the top of your head, do you know which sort of home improvements likely require permits? Though it varies from state to state, there is a fairly standard list of repairs that typically require a permit. Let’s take a bathroom remodel for instance. Here’s a brief list of individual remodels within the bathroom that most likely require a permit: any change to the floor plan (expansion); putting in new plumbing; moving existing wiring; installing new electric; and cutting a hole for a new window or skylight. For more information about bathroom remodels, including average costs, click here.

Even something as benign as installing a privacy fence in your backyard may need some regulatory approval. You may need to get a land survey, and there may be permits required to build a fence of a certain height.

Small improvements like painting, replacing a window, installing new flooring, and putting in granite countertops are the kinds of things you can do without having to talk to anyone first.

Expect the job to take longer than you anticipate

Unless you’re an extremely skilled contractor, it’s unlikely that your initial estimate for project time is going to be spot on. You should always add extra time to your estimate, and use that overestimate when determining whether you should hire professionals to help. Let’s say you’re doing a big kitchen remodel. Are you (or more importantly, your family) ok with not having full use of the kitchen for weeks? Take the long view of how the remodel could play out so that you have the best idea of how to plan your timeline.

Expect to have to hire a professional

Speaking of hiring a professional, you should at least entertain the thought that you may need to call in the cavalry – either during the project if you get yourself in too deep or maybe before the project even begins. There are two major times when you should certainly hire a pro. First, if your project is particularly dangerous and there’s a chance you’ll injure yourself. Electric projects, for example, are ill-advised to take on if you’re a novice electrician or you have no experience at all. Second, if you think you’ll do damage to your home. Of course, there are other reasons to hire a pro, like if you aren’t skilled enough to finish the job in a reasonable amount of time or you feel you won’t be able to meet your own standards for the job.

One of the biggest mistakes you can make as a DIY’er is to be too stubborn to know when you’re in over your head.

The advent of YouTube and internet tutorials has made DIY home improvement more accessible to the novice, but that doesn’t mean that everyone can remodel their home. There is a lot of satisfaction to be gained from handling a project yourself, but there are also a lot of potential headaches. If you know what to expect and you’re ok with delays, frustrations, and red tape, then head on down the DIY path. Just be aware, however, that it’s not admitting defeat to know when a professional would be a better fit for a particularly complicated or dangerous project.

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Author: Jim Vogel (