How to Renovate the Smart Way With a Licensed Contractor

How to Renovate the Smart Way With a Licensed Contractor in this short guide.

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2022 brought with it a promising outlook for the professional renovations market. The strong housing market continues to encourage residential remodeling, which in turn sends house price appreciation skyrocketing across the country.

Not only is new-home inventory low but post-pandemic trends also shape what people want and expect from their homes. Before the pandemic, they primarily used homes as a resting place after a day at work or a busy week. Now, homes double as workspaces, entertainment areas, and more. Remodels allow people to support these new lifestyles.

Renovations can be stressful as they have a tendency to disrupt routines and make homeowners feel like they’re hemorrhaging money. Current material and labor shortages add stress to the process.

Hiring a professional licensed contractor who’s and bonded can alleviate some of these stressors. has compiled a list of tips and tricks to keep you sane throughout the renovation process and help you renovate the smart way.

Thinking about DIY-ing?

Most states require a licensed contractor to complete major remodeling work. If you choose to DIY a remodel, in effect, you become an unlicensed contractor, making yourself responsible for correcting defective work uncovered by any future inspections.

The pros and cons of DIYing your remodel:


  • Saves money in the short term

  • Personal skill development

  • Personal fulfillment


  • Costs more in the long run

  • More stress

  • More time

  • Voids possible product and material warranties

  • Increased likelihood of failure to meet building codes

  • Increased likelihood for unexpected costs

  • Increased likelihood of remodel falling off schedule

In short, many benefits come with being licensed and bonded.

Who should I hire to complete my home renovation?

Rethinking DIY-ing? Depending on your project, knowing who you need to hire can save time and money during an already stressful project. Consider these six professionals and services for your renovation project:

  1. General contractor

  2. Design-build firm

  3. Architect

  4. Interior designer

  5. HVAC professional

  6. Plumber

When should I hire a general residential licensed contractor?

Residential contractors oversee and coordinate remodeling projects. They hire additional professionals and subcontractors to fulfill additional professional services. General contractors can help alleviate most of the stress associated with remodeling projects by scheduling and planning work to be completed in the most efficient way possible.

Qualified general contractors should have proper licensing, worker’s compensation, bonding, and insurance, making you, the customer, not liable for any onsite property damage or injuries. They’ll full understand and comply with local building codes and standards to ensure your remodel passes inspection. If, for some reason, your remodel does not pass an inspection, the responsibility falls on the licensed contractor.

Additionally, general contractors play a role in the validity of the warranties of products and materials used during your renovation. Installations performed by unlicensed contracting professionals can result in voided warranties. Licensed general contractors will not only make sure products and materials they use fall under warranty, but will also ensure any other professional services needed for the project do as well.

25 states require statewide contractor license, registration, and bonding:

Although not all states require statewide professional licensing, registration, and bonding, local municipalities (districts, counties, states) sometimes enforce their own professional compliance requirements. Double-checking your jurisdiction’s licensing requirements at both the state and local levels can save you money in the long run. Find a comprehensive list of contractor licensing requirements here.

When should I hire a design-build firm?

You will need to hire a design-build firm for medium- to large-scale renovations. A joint partnership of general contractors, architects, designers, engineers, and more, makes up a design-build firm. They add high attention to detail to any project. You should hire a design-build firm if your renovation involves any of the following:

  • Full renovation involving design, construction, and project management services

  • A well-flowing process to meet a deadline

  • Communicating with a single source from start to finish

To find recommended, licensed, and bonded design-build firms near you, that best-align with your expectations, click here.

When should I hire an architect?

You’ll need to hire a home remodel architect if your renovation involves any of the following:

  • Renovating a landmark property

  • Moving gas lines

  • Moving plumbing lines

  • Changing the floor plan

  • Making additions

  • Tearing down walls

If you hire a general contractor or design-build firm, they will find and hire a licensed and certified architect. Architect licensing and practice requirements vary by state, you can see these requirements here. Hiring an architect can help you turn ideas and concepts into visually and structurally sound plans and images. You can find recommended and accredited interior designers near you here.

When should I hire an interior designer?

You can hire an interior designer for any of the following:

  • Choosing styles, color palette, and finishes

  • Lighting and space planning

  • Purchasing materials, furniture, fixtures, and appliances

  • Designing cabinetry and installations

If you hire a general contractor or design-build firm, they will help you find and hire an interior designer. Hiring an accredited interior designer can ensure the fulfillment of all of your dreams for your home’s aesthetic. You can find recommended and accredited interior designers near you here.

When should I hire an HVAC professional?

HVAC professionals install, maintain, repair, or replace air conditioners, climate control systems, heating equipment, ventilation units, and refrigeration equipment. States typically require HVAC professionals be licensed and bonded. Heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning units require special tools and equipment, making hiring a licensed HVAC professional a necessity for HVAC repairs and installations.

Heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning equipment warranties require licensed professionals for installation and repairs, so hiring licensed HVAC professionals will save you from voided warranties and additional costs. If you hire a general contractor or design-build firm, they will hire an HVAC professional. You can find recommended, licensed and bonded HVAC professionals near you here.

When should I hire a plumber?

Hiring a plumber can be complicated. When should you hire one, and why? Most homeowners need plumbing services at some point in their home ownership journey. If you hire a general contractor or design-build firm, they will likely already have a plumber on-hand. According to the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors:

  • Conventional tank water heaters need replaced every six to 12 years

  • Sump pumps need replaced every seven years

  • Toilet tank components need replaced every five years

Although these are estimates, your plumbing materials and components will need to be replaced at some point in your home’s life. Hiring a plumber can be preventative and save you money in the long run as well. Plumbing issues can be quick fixes before they completely fail and cause larger problems in your home. Hiring a licensed and bonded plumber can ensure your work is done to code and will save you from future expenses and stress. You can find recommended and licensed plumbers here.

When should I check for licensure?

Whether you hire a design-build firm, an architect, or a general licensed contractor, always check for licensure. In many states, major remodels must be handled by licensed professionals. If you fail to hire a licensed professional, you become responsible for all of the expenses associated with correcting the defective work. Additionally, you would become responsible for any injuries acquired on the job site.

You may find unlicensed contractors who claim to have lower prices, but in the end, their work can end up being much costlier. Everyone feels like they run through money throughout a renovation, don’t run dry by making this all-too-common mistake. Licensure ensures that renovations are done safely, correctly, and fully. In states that require licensure, it’s illegal to hire unlicensed contractors. Read some of these unlicensed contractor horror stories if you need more convincing!

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