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When it comes time to turn your house into a dream home, you may be tempted to go full DIY. After all, DIY can be a very rewarding experience— if all goes well. YouTube and Pinterest are full of great tutorials and design advice, but what the internet can’t grant you is expertise.

Before you get started, potentially wasting thousands of dollars, there are some things you need to consider: permits, licenses, building codes, and more. So, let’s take a closer look together.

When Safety is On the Line

Who doesn’t want to believe they can handle whatever their home needs? However, there are times when the risks outweigh the rewards. Electrical work requires a level of expertise that goes far beyond replacing light fixtures and installing ceiling fans. You’re fine if you just want to switch the type of glass sconce or the type of light bulb. But when you’re looking at larger projects, amateur attempts can lead to serious injury, electrocution, and even death. And that’s just the damage to the person; electrical work done wrong can cause house fires, as well. A licensed Tennessee electrician has years of training and knowledge to work within a complex electrical system safely.

Another major task to avoid tackling alone is plumbing. Unclogging a drain or switching out your faucet is fine, but enthusiastic homeowners can cost themselves thousands of dollars— and beloved items — trying to replace a pipe or repair a sewer line. Water can be contaminated and carpets ruined. Faulty plumbing repairs often lead to leaks, water damage, and more. Better to budget for a licensed Tennessee plumber.

When The Project is Incredibly Complex

Sometimes, the improvements you want to make to your home require specialized education and experience that the average homeowner just doesn’t have. Consider installing a new HVAC system. HVAC units need to be the right size and installed well to keep your home comfortable efficiently. Professional HVAC technicians can assess your home to determine the best system for your unique needs. Trying to choose and install an HVAC on your own can lead to a unit that doesn’t properly cool or heat your home, a unit that drains your energy costs, or damage to the unit that voids your warranty.

Roof replacement is another example. Sure, it might seem easy to climb up on your roof with a few shingles and a hammer, but there is far more to roofing than what we see. A licensed roofer can identify issues with waterproofing, check your flashing, help you choose a material that fits your home, and more. Botched roofs can lead to water damage and mold, not to mention compromised structural integrity.

When Dealing with Legalities

Many home improvement projects in Tennessee will require a permit to ensure compliance with state and local regulations as well as safety standards. Without the proper paperwork, you can find your project facing heavy fines and delays— you may even have to undo some of your hard work.

Permit requirements have to meet Tennessee state standards, but local districts and cities often add their own. And permits require a non-refundable fee that can get rather hefty, so you want to be absolutely certain you have the right one.

As far as permits go, you can generally call the building permit department for advice, and they will let you know what permits you need and what you need to apply. However, the larger the scope of your project, the more permits and licensing you will need. For projects upwards of a $25,000 value, you need to get a license. The make things easier for you, there are extensive Tennessee contractors license prep exams online to help you prepare for getting certified.

Or, you can call in a contractor who already has their license. They will be much more familiar with the permit and estimate process and can ensure you get what you need for your project. A professional contractor will also have the know-how to create a safe working environment as well as insurance to cover accidents.

How to Choose a Reliable Contractor

When hiring a contractor, you want to know you can trust them. The internet is full of horror stories where contractors took payment before vanishing. This is your home, your property, and your possessions. So, how do you know you’re hiring a trustworthy contractor? Trust but Verify.

Your contractor should be displaying their license number; look it up with the state. You can also run a search on the business or the contractor’s name to check for any news stories and read impartial reviews. Check their rating on sites like Yelp and Angie, then check with the Better Business Bureau.

Confirm that any potential contractor has proper insurance coverage. In such a dangerous profession, accidents can and will happen. You don’t want to be held liable because it was on your property. Reliable contractors carry liability insurance as well as worker’s comp to protect you, themselves, and their workers.

Finally, you want to find a contractor with a solid warranty. If something goes wrong, you want to know that the contractor will make it right as soon as possible.

While the allure of DIY projects can be strong, remember that you need to recognize when calling a professional is the better idea. Ensure your home projects are done safely and up to code, so that your dream home doesn’t become a total nightmare.