DIY: Home Improvements that you might leave to a professional

Filed Under: Home repair, Remodeling, Services    by: ITC

Some DIY work is fun and easy. However, through the years we see people trying to do things that might be better left to a professional. If you have a DIY project and know what you are doing, just go for it. But, in some cases, just take care because it can be really daunting to start working on it by yourself. Check these examples of DIY home improvement project that are too difficult for most laymen.

Brick Paths

You might think that using some bricks to form a road is a landscaping idea that will bring harmony to your lawn. While this might be the case for a professionally made brick structure, it is not for everyone. It is difficult for an amateur to create a perfectly flat surface on which to lay the bricks, and if you are not careful, you might wind up with an uneven row of bricks that go up and down.

Instead of buying lots of bricks to create a path, why not lay uneven stones, which do not have to be perfectly flat, and fill the joints with cement?

Removing Wallpaper

Unless you have removed wallpaper before and know how to do it professionally, there is a good chance that you will destroy the drywall. Wallpaper removal is a tedious and difficult process. It can take several weeks for a single room and there’s no turning back.

However, painting over the wallpaper is not that terrible an idea. The wallpaper will give texture to the result and it may well be aesthetically appealing.


A drywall patching can be difficult. It is often better to leave it for a professional instead of doing it as a DIY home improvement project. It does not cost much if you provide the materials and you’ll love it when your walls are completely smooth.

Deck Building

Perhaps you think your backyard deserves a deck. If this is the case, it might be necessary to hire a professional. Regarding DIY and home improvements, this is much harder than it seems. Many decks are attached to the roof to create more stability, but an amateur can indeed destroy the house structure.

For all other projects, no matter how simple they are, carefully plan what you’re going to do and have clear instructions at hand so you can proceed step-by-step.

Getting a Building Permit

Filed Under: Do it yourself, Electrical, Home repair, Plumbing, Services    by: ITC

A building permit will probably be required if you plan to do the following:

1. Alter or change the external appearance of your house. For example if you: add a porch; add a screen in a porch; add or remove a window or door, or if you build a fence or wall.

2. Do any electrical work.

3. Do any plumbing work.

4. Add or remove any structural element.

5. Build an addition to your house.

6. Erect a separate building on your property.

Applying for a building permit

To obtain a building permit, a set of plans showing your proposed alterations must be submitted to the local Building Department where they will be checked for compliance with the National and local Building Code. If the plans are up to code a permit will be issued, usually for a small fee.

The permit will be valid for one year after which time a new application must be made if the work has not started. The permit must be displayed prominently at various stages of the construction work you may be required to call in the local building inspector to check the work for compliance, for instance, before and after any footings have been made.

This checking procedure ensures that the work is indeed being carried out according to the approved plans and that the method of construction and the quality of the materials is up to the standard set out in the Building Code. Although this procedure may not be necessary on your particular job, however, the Building Inspector may call by at any time to check on the progress of the work.

Always be sure to complete the job according to the approved plans. If you are in any doubt, call the building inspector and ask his advice, never try to guess. This could be a waste of your time and money as any work not covered by the approved plans or not up to the standards of the code may be condemned at any stage of the building.

If your plans are rejected by the building department for non-compliance you will receive a notification of the reasons given. In some cases this may be simply dealt with by getting your building contractor to amend the plans making sure all the changes are incorporated before re-submitting them.

In other cases the layout of your property may make it impossible to comply with the requirements of the code. In this case you may seek an exception to the law by filing an application with the Zoning Board of Review. When filing for an exemption, evidence supporting your position must be presented with your application, together with a block plan showing all lots within a specified distance including all buildings and marked with owners’ names and addresses.

A plan of your lot showing the existing structures, and plans and elevations of the proposed work must also be submitted. A decision will be made after a public meeting of the Board during which any member of the public may speak for or against the project.

Home Construction Contracts

Filed Under: Do it yourself, Home repair, Remodeling, Services    by: ITC

All the work done to convert the attic into living space must comply with the requirements of the Zoning and Building Codes, and before work can begin plans must be drawn up and submitted to your local Building Department for approval. They will be able to advise you on any aspects of the work about which you are unsure, and will probably want to make several checks on the work as it progresses.

The Codes vary so greatly across the country that what may need approval on in one area does not need approval in another. If you feel unsure, check with your local Building Department or consult with a local professional Architect or Engineer before starting.

There are two routes you can take to getting professional help: you can either employ an architect to design the conversion and then get him to supervise the builder who does the work, or approach a specialist re-modeler, who will both design the conversion and carry out the work. In the first instance you will get something that suits your needs exactly, whereas in the latter you may get a variation on one of several standards. plans. However, there may be quite a difference in price, so do get quotes from different companies for comparison.

In many cases the architect or contractor will handle the Building Code side of the job for you, perhaps relieving you of a considerable headache. Both will also be able to tell you if the structure of the roof makes a conversion possible at all. Sometimes it is possible to remove major supporting members which are in the way and support the load they carried by making one of the internal partitions load-bearing or by inserting strong wooden beams in the framework of the walls or floor.

In other areas, essential supporting framing may be left in place and the internal partitions built off them — in some instances the resulting shapes being adapted for bookshelves or storage space, for example. you need more rooms and there is simply no other way you can get more room from the existing layout, the answer may be to build on an extra room or rooms at the side or rear of the house.

As with an attic conversion you will need a building permit for an extension, but it is as well to check with the local Building Department. In some areas the Building Code requires that any addition is built in the same style and in matching materials as the main part of the house. In this situation, even if the extension is within the permitted size and does not project above the roof line or beyond the front of the building, you would still need a building permit.

Regardless of the Zoning situation, all the work must comply with the Building Code, so early contact with your local Building Inspector is essential. He will want to see plans of the extension, being particularly interested in the foundations and will advise you on the requirements for your specific situation. He will also want to inspect the work as it progresses.

With a purpose built extension you should employ an architect to design it and take care of the Building Code matters. He will also supervise the building work. This should be done by a competent builder, but you may be able to reduce the cost if he will agree to you doing the less critical parts of the job.

A standard contract should be taken out with the builder that defines his responsibilities, specifies costs, starting and completion dates and gives details of how payment will be made.

Prefabricated extensions are often designed for assembly by the purchaser, although the manufacturer can send his own erection team to do it for you; he may even insist on this if the extension is above a certain size.

Obviously, any extension will be costly and you should give considerable thought as to how you will pay for it. In some cases you may qualify for a guaranteed loan through the federal government. You may be able to extend your mortgage, or get a loan from a bank or finance company. It is worth shopping around to get the best terms.

In addition to the Building Code your house may be part of a residential community or association which also places restrictions or limitations on the type of alterations that may be made to the property. Generally this extends only to the type and style of fences or a ban on blacktop drive ways, but in some areas — a neighborhood of Victorian gingerbread houses for example — it may restrict the architectural style of any new work.

Further restrictions to the type of alteration you may make to your home may be made by the mortgage holder or by the house insurer. Always check with your insurance agent to make sure that your home owner’s policy is not invalidated by the construction work. Some insurers will insist that at least part of the work — usually the electrics or plumbing and heating — is carried out by professionals.

Houses built before the Building Code took effect are not required to comply to the Code unless they are altered.