Home improvement projects are a smart investment for Dallas residents, enhancing your lifestyle and improving property values over the long term. But homeowners need to go into these projects with knowledge, common sense and a good game plan. Finding out what you need to know before starting a renovation in Dallas allows you to make better decisions and end up with a more satisfying remodel.
From local building code concerns to finding a contractor and sourcing out building materials, you have a long list of tasks to conquer. Stay organized and take it one step a time to address each concern and ensure the project remains on course.
Do You Need a Building Permit?
Perhaps the first question homeowners need to ask involves a building permitâ€”do you need a building permit to complete the work planned? If so, the homeowner must submit an application and permit fee before commencing the work. You'll need to have the contractor on board and all design work done and ready for submission.
If a building permit is not required, smart homeowners still consult the local building code, but may skip the permit application process to expedite the work schedule and cut down on expenses.
According to the city of Dallas building inspection online reference page, many types of renovations projects do not require a permit, including:
- remodeling work that does not affect structural components of the home - for example, repainting and flooring replacement
- certain plumbing repairs
- work on gutters, trim and siding on the exterior of your home
- fences less than 6 foot high in the rear yard or less than 4 foot high in the front yard
- decks less than 30 inches above grade and not covering a basement or second-story entrance
- small roof replacement projects or roof repairs
- construction of a carport or shed smaller than 200 square feet in area and without electrical services
- retaining walls less than 4 foot high at the highest point
Remember that any work on a structural component of your home requires a permit. It may be wise to become familiar with the Dallas construction codes and find out whether your property is located in a conservation or historic district. These details need to be hammered out before you start the design and hiring processes, as permits, codes and ordinances play a major role in any renovation in Dallas.
Do You Need to Hire a Licensed Contractor?
Much like many other major cities across the United States, Dallas requires that certain renovation work be completed by a licensed contractor. For instance, the following projects require a properly licensed contractor:
- Plumbing - licensed according to the Texas Plumbing License Law
- Mechanical - licensed according to the Texas Mechanical License Law
Regardless of whether or not the project requires a building permit, all work done in the above categories must be completed by a licensed professional.
Licenses are not required for contractors hired to complete general projects on a residential property, including painting, insulation, windows and doors, drywall installation, finishing a basement, flooring replacement, roofing replacement, etc.
Homeowners can tackle a DIY renovation in Dallas without worrying about a license, so long as all building permits and building code limitations are upheld. In the case of homesteads, those who own and occupy an official Texas homestead may complete plumbing and/or mechanical work on their own, without the license requirements stated above.
Do You Need to Sign a Written Contract?
Wise homeowners insist on obtaining a written contract for renovation work. This provides all of the relevant details, including price, scope of work, warranties and exclusions, in a compact document for easy reference.
A contract is not required, but having one may protect Dallas homeowners from fraud, shoddy workmanship and liability in case of accident. Always ask the contractor to supply proof of insurance and find out about safety standards in place within the company before the project begins.
Does it Matter Where Your Dallas Home is Located?
Several zoning districts exist across the city, and each affects Dallas renovations in a different way. The three most common specialty districts to understand include:
- Historic zoning districts - research the restrictions on interior and exterior renovations to properties located within an historic district. A certificate of appropriateness must be obtained before exterior renovations begin.
- Conservation zoning districts - similar to historic zones, conservation districts restrict development and renovations in areas such as setbacks, height and allowed usage.
- Neighborhood stabilization overlay districts - development within these districts must remain consistent with the existing structures. Find out about the restrictions when planning a home addition or major exterior renovation project.
How Do You Find a Qualified Contractor?
You need to source out a qualified Dallas renovation contractor to complete your project. Referrals and recommendations from friends and family are often the ideal place to start, but remember to contact at least one or two other companies for comparison.
Always ask at least three contractors to bid on your renovation in Dallas, and be sure to supply each contractor with the same amount of detail. Gauge their level of professionalism, experience and communication skills based on your meetings in person and phone or email correspondence. You'll be working on a long-term project with this contractor; it's wise to hire a firm you can trust from start to finish.
Homeowners have some important work to do during the initial stages of a home improvement project. Finding out about building permits, licensed contractors, written contracts and zoning districts takes time and effort, but will certainly help your renovation in Dallas to go smoothly. Invest in your home by planning well and utilizing the resources available to you at every stage of the project.Posted by: diana