Do-It-Yourself projects have been all the rage for a long time, and with the advent of the internet and social media, crafters and weekend warriors are in seventh heaven. Want to make a wine-cork inspiration board? Pinterest can show you how. Want to repurpose your thrift-store coffee table into something chic and on-trend? Google it! From gardening to interior design to building, you can find text and video how-tos on just about anything. You can’t beat it for convenience, learning how to improve your own home right in the comfort of…your own home. Great, right?
Absolutely! But: when it comes to remodeling in and around your property, especially from the perspective of the real estate field, we would advise you choose your projects wisely. Why though? You mostly know what you’re doing, and youtube filled you in on the rest, so what’s the big deal?
Oh, just fines. Fires. Code violations. Insurance claims. Taking a financial hit when you go to sell. These are a few of the possible outcomes of forging blindly ahead into the wild world of DIY without taking proper steps to avoid them.
Okay, it depends what you’re taking on. A windowsill terrarium isn’t going to cause any problems, but if you’re finishing a basement, putting up a deck or a fence, adding a window or door, installing new electrical or plumbing, or removing it, if you aren’t a professional, you aren’t licensed or insured. This means you might be making mistakes that aren’t up to code. Mistakes that could cause serious injuries or worse.
The major mistake most DIYers make for projects like these is not obtaining a permit from their township. Maybe they don’t realize they need one, maybe they feel it isn’t worth the time (sometimes weeks) and money (sometimes a bunch) to bother getting a permit. And who’s going to find out anyway if you don’t get one?
Assuming meddlesome neighbors won’t report you for hammering the weekend away during the baby’s naptime, and assuming no electrical fires, plumbing mishaps, or other accidents occur, here’s the scoop: lack of DIR (Do It Right) in the form of unpermitted projects will probably come back to bite you when it’s time to sell your home, whether that’s in two years or ten. By law, improvements and changes to a property’s structure and footprint must be reported on the Seller’s Property Disclosure Statement. Unpermitted work can incur fines, but even more importantly, doesn’t breed confidence in potential buyers.
The bottom line is: it’s well worth the wait and the cash on the front end of your project to obtain whichever permits your township requires. This way you’ll make the most of your “sweat equity” and reap the biggest benefits from your hard work.