The 7 Most Common Remodeling Mistakes
If you’re planning a remodel, learn from the experience of others and avoid these common (and often costly) mistakes.
1. Rushing into your project.
When embarking on a project, the general steps are developing a good plan, pricing it out, and then doing the work. What most people underestimate is the time and energy involved in developing the plan. Don’t rush that process! For most contractors and design professionals, after visiting the site and coming up with an initial plan, it sometimes takes three or more revisions to get it right. What is most important is not the time involved, but that by the end of the revision process you have a project that is well thought out and put together, including accommodating any unforeseen roadblocks that are inevitable in any remodel.
2. Going with the first contractor you interview.
Yes, it can be a pain interviewing contractors, but it’s important that you take your time and get several bids. Check references, look into their track record with your local Better Business Bureau, make sure they are insured — including their subcontractors. A contractor may carry insurance, but if a subcontractor is doing the actual work their company should be insured as well.
Beyond the technicalities, your ultimate goal is to find a contractor with whom you get along and can communicate. Find one that will sit down with you and can effectively communicate their plan. They also need to be able to draw up a contract, writing out the details and breakdown of labor and material costs. Work should not start until the contract is signed by you.
3. Creating a budget that is too rigid.
Your budget must allow for wiggle room, otherwise it is unrealistic. In general, it is recommended to calculate your budget and then add a 20 percent cushion to cover any inevitable unforeseen issues, such as water damage or subpar wiring. Adding that cushion will give you peace of mind.
4. Being too frugal.
Beware of the penny-pinching mindset. You’re going to be presented with a lot of decisions to make, some of them between different types of materials and finishes, and so on. While it may be tempting to simply choose the least expensive option, there are reasons why other choices might be a better investment, such as how they wear, your true personal preference and enjoyment, or setting your home apart from others.
Another way homeowners are overly frugal is by taking on projects themselves. While handling a DIY home improvement project that is within your realm of expertise and skill can definitely save you money, don’t tackle something that is beyond your skill level. Hiring a professional is worth the investment.
5. Paying more for building materials than you need to.
There are a lot of ways to cut down on the cost of materials. For instance, if your project does not have urgent timing requirements, keep your eyes open for materials at garage sales, estate sales, flea markets and salvage stores. Talk to friends, family members and business associates. Develop relationships with companies for deals on slightly damaged materials that are still useful. Sometimes it is cheaper for a company to let you take the damaged items than to pay a dump to take them. You never know unless you ask!
6. Making your home clash with the neighborhood.
A lot of homeowners sour relationships with their neighbors and negatively affect their home’s resale value by changing their home’s size and facade so that it contrasts too much with the character of the other homes in the neighborhood. For instance, if you live in an area filled with bungalows, Cape Cods, or other traditional styles, you may want to think hard before transforming your home into a statement of contemporary design. Similarly, it is important to consider any new additions so that they don’t overwhelm the bordering or facing homes. When you reside in an established neighborhood, it is rarely a forum for drastic statements of individuality. It’s usually best to make your home blend with the surroundings.
7. Changing your mind, repeatedly.
Simply put, once the project is underway, try to stick with your plan. Otherwise, it can get expensive quickly. That being said, if changes are to be made, be sure to make them before the drywall has gone up or else it requires tearing everything out and starting again. Which means a lot of wasted money. In addition, try not to let others (architects, subcontractors, friends, family) sway you to make changes you’re not sure about. Most often it ends in regret.