Doing the Work Yourself

You are getting ready to complete a home project and you are trying to figure out if you should hire a licensed contractor or complete the work as a do-it-yourself (DIY) project. 

Here are some things to consider:

Tips for Do-it-Yourself

In Denver, a homeowner may obtain a residential construction permit (#1R) or roofing/siding permit (#2) for his/her own home without taking a homeowner's exam. In order to perform all other types of building and construction work on your own home, you must satisfy a set of requirements: 

Homeowner's Exam

Pass the homeowner’s exam demonstrating proficiency in specific building trades:

  • Electrical
  • Mechanical
  • Plumbing
  • Refrigeration
  • Hot water/boiler
  • Evaporative cooling 

 

Home Ownership Verification

You must be listed on the Assessor’s website as the property owner or provide the Deed listing you as an owner of the property.  No other forms of ownership will be accepted.

Copies of your deed may be available from the Denver Clerk and Recorder for a small fee.

In order to obtain construction or building permits, you may need to submit plans to Development Services for review.  

  • Permits vary from one project to another. 
  • A contractor may be able to obtain all the necessary permits at once while a homeowner less familiar with permitting process may spend more time and effort securing the permits.

It may appear that doing the work yourself is cheaper than hiring a contractor.  There are, however, certain risks involved.

 

Property Damage

If your property or your neighbor’s property is damaged over the course of the do it yourself project and you have to replace property, the responsibility for repair and replacement is yours.  If you use a licensed and insured contractor, the contractor’s insurance would cover any liability.

 

Inspections

 Most projects requiring permits will also require inspections to insure that the construction meets Denver building code.  A licensed contractor is responsible for completing the project according to code. As a homeowner completing the project yourself, you could incur additional costs if portions of your project had to be redone in order tto meet the build code.

 

Warranty

Typically, contractors provide a one year warranty on material and labor.

Tips for Hiring a Contractor

If you decide to hire a contractor, here are some tips to follow:

  • Get 3 bids in writing from different contractors.
  • Get references:
    • Talk to and meet with at least 3 previous clients
    • Use the Better Business Bureau to look up your contractor
  • Get proof that the contractor is insured and bonded.  Make sure the insurance policy is current.
  • Verify that your contractor has a current Denver license.
  • Insist that the contractor obtain all necessary building permits.
  • Insist that the contractor give you a receipt for  your payments.
  • Check that addresses and phone numbers are legitimate on business cards.
  • Ask for a backup plan to be used if the contractor is unavailable.
  • Never pay cash.
  • Avoid contractors demanding full payment before doing any work.
  • Avoid contractors who will work without a written contract.
  • Avoid contractors who want you to secure permits in your name rather than the contractor’s name.  The permit holder is legally responsible for the completion of the job to building code standards.

After selecting your contractor, get a written contract detailing the work to be performed, the costs associated with each task, a timeframe with estimated start and end finish dates and protection against liens from subcontractors.  In addition the contract should include:

 

  • Contractor’s letterhead
  • The company’s name, address, phone numbers and license numbers
  • The consumer’s name, phone number, and address where work is to be performed
  • Date the contract is signed
  • Payment schedule
  • Termination clause
  • Whether permits will be obtained and who will be responsible for “pulling” the permit
  • Clear statement of work that is included and excluded as it pertains to your project

Next Steps

  • If you want to complete the project yourself, look at our Homeowner’s Exam page for information on requirements and how to complete your exam.
  • If you’re going to use a contractor, use the contractor license search to see if the contractor you selected is part of the database of Denver City and County licensed contractors.
  • Read our Tips for Hiring a Contractor on this page.
  • To determine which plans you’ll need to submit and which permits will be required, select your project under Home Projects.
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