A few years ago, Lewis went the DIY route and installed hurricane shutters on his South Florida home. It was only later — when a contractor refused to give him an estimate on updating to energy-efficient windows — that he realized he’d missed a crucial step.

“I didn’t realize [that] in my town, I have to get a permit for [installing storm shutters], and submit blueprints,” he said.

Don’t make that same mistake. Before you start a remodeling project, check in with your city or county, Lewis said.

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Depending on the scope of the work, you might need to obtain a building permit or specialty permits, and submit to inspections throughout the construction. Your project will also have to meet the latest building codes, he said. (Those may be different than what you see in an online tutorial or how-to.)

Assessing those details can help you determine whether that home upgrade is something you can really do yourself.

And skipping this step could have financial consequences such as fines, and needing to undo or redo work. Unpermitted work can also make it more difficult to later sell your home, according to legal resource Nolo — or as Lewis found, find a pro to complete future projects.

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