Getting Oriented to Home Improvement
Building Codes and Your Project
It's hard to generalize about building codes, since localities make their own changes to the various standard codes, and there are three that apply in the United States. Others cover natural gas, electricity, plumbing, and heating, ventilating, air conditioning. You may need a building permit for a significant change, but not for a simple replacement. Thus you're usually okay putting in a new door, since that is replacing an existing feature. But you might need a permit to cut in a new door or window.
Only a local building inspector can tell you if your plans are permissible, if a licensed contractor must do the work, and if you need a building permit.
A Few Final Thoughts
First, don't drive yourself to distraction. If you are a perfectionist, you might do better to hire a premium home-improvement contractor (and then hope you don't find an apprentice or a slacker working on your job). As you complete a project, learn to say, “It's perfect enough,” or “That's the best I can do, and that makes it just fine.”
Second, doing it yourself is all about control. You control the design, the schedule, the materials, the overall effect of the project. While some do-it-yourself guides stress saving money, I'm more interested in the satisfaction of making your own designs, and then carrying them out.
Want to do something unconventional? Want to break the rules?
It's your house. And once you learn to improve it, it will be, in all senses, even more your house.
Find out some Must-Have Tools for Homeowners for getting started on your home improvement projects.
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Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Simple Home Improvements © 2004 by David J. Tenenbaum. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
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