15 Home Renovations Where DIY is Legally Off-Limits

You can do home improvement projects and save money with the right skills and tools. However, some projects require permission or at least the involvement of a licensed expert.

Let’s learn about some home improvement projects that are illegal to do yourself:

Major Electrical Works

Image Credit: Adobe Stock

Electrical works such as changing or repairing home wiring or electrical panels, are expensive. For example, replacing electrical panels costs approximately $1,274.

Doing these yourself can save money. However, it is illegal in some regions, like North Carolina and Washington. You have to pay heavy fines of $100 to $1,000 for violating rules and codes.

Gas Lines And Appliances

Image Credit: Adobe Stock

It is illegal to install gas lines for ovens, stoves, and heating systems and to convert stoves to electric gas yourself. Both are dangerous and involve severe risks of leaks and explosions.

The gas stove needs electricity and gas to function well. So, you need two professionals: a plumber to install the gas line and an electrician to alter the electrical circuit.

Replacing Or Repairing HVACs

Image Credit: Adobe Stock

Repairing or replacing HVAC systems costs approximately $200-$600. Many try to take on the work themselves to save money.

However, there is a possibility of gas leakage causing health hazards like dizziness, asphyxia, and other respiratory problems, making it illegal to repair or replace the HVACs yourself.

You may also lose your HVAC’s warranty if your manufacturer finds out about it.


Image Credit: Adobe Stock

While there are many home improvement projects you can do yourself and save money on, plumbing is not one of them. DIY plumbing is not illegal, though.

Some projects require the expertise of a licensed plumber and knowledge of building codes. For example, it requires precision and permits for changes in the bathroom’s layout, installing faucets, or repairing septic tanks.

Plumbers get intensive training and need to obtain a license before the fieldwork.

Installing Water Heaters

Image Credit: Adobe Stock

To install water heaters, you might have to deal with 220V electricity or a live gas pipe, which can result in CO poisoning and explosion.

Any related project requires permits and compliance with codes and instructions. It’s illegal to do it yourself. Please leave it to the hands of licensed plumbers and electricians.

Kitchen Renovations

Image Credit: Adobe Stock

Kitchen renovations such as adding peel-and-stick backsplashes, open shelving, new hardware, installing countertops, replacing cabinets, and painting are expensive.

While doing these projects yourself can save money, some are challenging.

It’s not illegal. It’s more about what legal permits you need for safety and code compliance. Major projects like cabinet finishing and countertop replacement require permits.

Pumping Septic System

Image Credit: Adobe Stock

Working on septic systems for waste removal is unpleasant. Besides, you will need specific equipments and permissions to dispose of the waste correctly.

Instead of doing it yourself, pick up your phone and contact a professional.

Knocking Off A Wall

Image Credits: Adobe Stock

You will love transforming a closed-in layout to an open floor plan. Before swinging the sledgehammer to remove the wall yourself, remember that some walls are cosmetic, and some support your roof.

Due to safety issues and building code violations, you cannot knock off the load-bearing wall yourself. Consult a professional.

Roof Projects

Image Credit: Adobe Stock

Roofing tasks include installing skylights or replacing the roof. To install a skylight, you need to cut a hole to install a frame and fit a window on the roof. To replace a roof, you have to climb the roof to hang a shingle.

If anything goes wrong, you will deal with a long-term problem and expensive fixes. Moreover, the skylight’s warranty can be void if the work is not done according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Adding Doors Or Windows

Image Credit: Adobe Stock

Adding doors or windows can save you money. It’s better to hire professionals to do the job.

The work requires opening a wall, so getting a permit or hiring a licensed professional is essential, especially if it’s a load-bearing wall.

Removing Lead-based Paints

Image Credit: Adobe Stock

Most older homes have lead-based paint. According to the US EPA, 87% of houses built before 1940 contain lead-based paint. 24% of houses built between 1960 and 1978 have lead-based paint.

Lead is deadly, and removing it yourself is illegal. Experts wear the right outfits and use the right tools to remove the paint without any health hazards.

Asbestos Removal

Image Credit: Adobe Stock

If your house is too old, toxic asbestos can contaminate the attic insulation.

Regions like Illinois or New York City need an asbestos abatement contractor licensed with the city to remove asbestos. The work has several laws and regulations. The toxicity and fibers can affect your health.

Building a Deck

Image Credit: Adobe Stock

Decks expand outdoors for warm-weather enjoyment. Building one costs approximately $4,000-$11,000. It might be tempting to do it yourself and save money, but don’t.

A professional will build the deck while following all the rules and regulations. Even if you have a permit, you need a secured one. Insecurely built decks are dangerous.

It needs structural planning, permits, and thorough inspections. The local building code office will visit the site to check the footings and framing, deck plans, and the deck. If anything is wrong, you cannot approach the project.

Cutting Large Trees

Image Credit: Adobe Stock

Cutting down large trees provides more space.

Angi estimates that tree removal services cost approximately $200-$2,000. If you have the right tools and experience, you can save this money by removing trees on your property.

It’s illegal in some areas if you are not an arborist. For example, Sacramento requires a professional to remove trees on private properties. In Miami, removing more than 25% of the trees requires a permit before a professional cuts it down.

Changes In Your Yard

Image Credit: Adobe Stock

People grave their yards or add retaining walls to save money. If not done correctly, these activities can pose a threat to themselves, their property, and their neighbors.

Hire a professional for significant plan changes in your yard. They will have permits and begin with the regulatory groundwork as per the rules.


Scroll to Top