Home renovations are usually expensive, and good contractors in Denver can be hard to track down or hire — especially for the smaller jobs. In some cases, it may make sense to do the work yourself, if you are so inclined and if you are handy. Here’s how to go about a DIY renovation job in Denver the right way.
Which Jobs Should I DIY? Obviously your skills (or lack thereof) will help you decide what kind of job you can take on. If it requires a permit, you should probably get one. The city will require you take a test to demonstrate your proficiency based on your proposed scope of work before they give you the permit. This goes for electrical work, HVAC, water heater installs, and similar jobs. Here’s a list of common household projects you might conceive of when planning your Denver home renovation. Not all of them require permits.
Do Your Research. If you need guidance, there are tons of resources online. I like Bob Vila’s site. It offers How-To videos for nearly every kind of job and it’s really well done. Home Depot and your local hardware store often host DIY classes too, so you can gain some knowledge there.
Talk with a Contractor and Get an Estimate. It’s valuable to get an estimate or two from a legitimate contractor before you start, especially if the job is a tad more complicated. They may point out things you hadn’t considered, and at the very least you’ll be able to formulate a better plan by talking it through with an expert. And when they give you a price, you’ll truly have an idea of the cost-savings you’re going to get by doing it yourself. (Tell that to your significant other!). If you might want to hire a contractor, read this post for a few tips on how to go about it.
Be Prepared for Surprises/Mistakes. Houses, especially older ones, can be “quirky” and surprises may come up. Maybe there’s a pipe behind that wall in the bathroom, so you can’t install a storage medicine cabinet. And now that you know, you have to put drywall back up and patch and paint. Believe it or not, mistakes can happen on a DIY job, so make sure to budget more time than you think you need, for that extra trip (or three) to the store.
What About Permits? Permitting allows to the city some oversight to ensure that work gets done properly and safely. If you want to sell your Denver house in the future, potential future buyers may check with the city for the permits to find out more on the house. They’ll get a “warm and fuzzy” if they see everything done right. More particular buyers may balk if they don’t see permits on recent work done. (But in my experience, I’ve never seen anyone cancel a contract over missing permits).
The more “cosmetic” work – like flooring and cabinetry – tends to be exempt from permitting. Here’s a list of some more common jobs.
Denver Home Improvement Jobs Exempt from Permitting
Counters and cabinets
General plumbing repairs
Swings, playground equipment
Single-story detached accessory buildings, not to exceed 200 square feet
Please check Denver’s Residential Permitting Guide for the most up-to-date information as this list is subject to change.
Watch Out for Lead and Asbestos. Before disrupting possible lead-based paint, or an odd popcorn ceiling that may have asbestos, it’s a good idea to get it tested for hazardous materials so you can take the proper precautions. Find out more about common household environmental hazards here.
Will I Make it Back When I Sell? If you want some perspective on the return on investment for your project, I’ve sold many homes and am happy to share ideas on what’ll be most attractive for resale. Get in touch now.
Are You Ready Now? If you have a solid plan, budget, and time allotted to complete the work, a DIY job can work out beautifully and save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars.