7 Common Home Renovation Mistakes – And How to Avoid Them

Home renovation is fun and exciting – but is also an expensive, time-consuming and stressful thing to live through.  As you’re planning for your next renovation, we at Kendall Design Build want to help you avoid common mistakes we see every day and to help you make your remodeling experience go as smoothly as possible.

1. Take Time to Plan Your Remodel

Every project starts with a good and detailed plan.  Start with determining what you want to change and why.  Find inspiration photos of examples of remodeled spaces that reflect your style.  Develop your budget and have your funds available to you before you get started.  Start thinking about how you’re going to live in your space during construction and if you should move out temporarily to avoid the noise and mess.  Then, begin your search for the professionals that will bring your vision to life. 

Look for referrals from neighbors, friends, and online.  Look at reviews – but remember that more people write negative reviews than positive, so personal accounts of experiences from people you trust are your best guides.  Lastly, decide when you want to start your project and how long you have to get it done. Time to get started!

2. Good Design is Worth Investing In

A good designer can work hand in hand with a contractor to bring you the design you’re looking for within a realistic budget.  She will have an understanding of construction so won’t make the mistake of designing elements that are cost-prohibitive and she’ll know her sources!  She won’t select materials that have long lead times and slow a project down and she’ll know what good quality is and isn’t.  Trust her!  She knows what she’s doing.  And her work will ultimately be what you enjoy.

3. Choose Your Contractor Wisely

Everyone has a “bad contractor” story to share and the good contractors out there should come to you prepared to prove that they’re all that they say they are.  A good contractor will function as a partner with you in your project.  They will be as interested in getting you the finish you’re looking for as you are and will be communicative and responsive to your concerns before, during, and after construction.  They will come with referrals and will be transparent with costing, provide lien waivers (to prove they pay their subcontractors!), and will take the time you need to answer any questions and concerns you may have to ensure that you’re comfortable working with them. 

4. Avoid Trends and Focus on Timeless Design

It’s tempting to choose the latest style but remember, you’ll still be living with this in 3, 5, 10, or 20 years. Some of the best designs are timeless and the primary elements of any home remodel should be classic. That doesn’t mean you can’t bring in fun or trendy accents (a mirror, or a light fixture, or wall color or wallpaper) that can easily be changed down the line.   But when it comes to things like tile, cabinetry, flooring, and even space planning, a timeless selection will be as “on-trend” in 10 years as it is today.  And that’s a good home remodel!

5. Set Realistic Budgets- and Expect the Unexpected

During the planning stage of any home remodel, your contractor and designer should be able to provide you with realistic budgets. Because once construction starts, all bets are off.  Depending on the age of your home it is likely that building codes have changed since it was built and your contractor will be required to address that.  It’s even possible that your home was built BEFORE building codes were widely enacted (Note: In the US building codes started in 1905 but weren’t fully enacted until the early 1940s and even today there are counties that don’t require code to be followed!) so it is very possible that once walls are opened and new things can be seen, you’ll have expenses that you didn’t expect. 

Its also possible that issues that don’t violate any current building code, that couldn’t be observed before construction started, and that has to be addressed will pop up: a heating/cooling duct that needs to be moved, rusty pipes, un-even framing, are just a start.  A good contractor will be able to address these things quickly and efficiently and won’t gouge you on pricing – but you’ll still need to pay for it.  So be prepared!

6. Don’t Skimp on Quality

There’s an old adage “Penny Wise and Pound Foolish”.  There is no area that this applies to more than during a home remodel.  If you need to cut your budget, always cut your scope of work – but in order to assure a lasting home remodel that improves your life and your home value, don’t, don’t, don’t skrimp on quality!  The three areas you should focus your attention on are the contractor and subcontractors, the construction materials, and the design finishes.

Contractor and Subcontractors: A good tradesman has years of experience and training and will bring that to your home. He/she will be thoughtful and professional and conscientious but may cost a little more than the guy off the street.  He’s worth it!

Construction Materials:  The difference between cheap materials and quality materials is normally about 20%, which is usually about 5% of a project cost.  But the cost of using inferior materials in a project can cost you much more in the end if they fail.  Have conversations with your contractor and let them guide you in making good decisions that will protect the integrity of your home remodeling project. 

Finishes:  This is what you’ll be looking at for years to come and what will be on all of your surfaces – flooring, tile, cabinetry, hardware.  The additional cost to create a timeless design and to ensure an enduring remodel is usually no more than 5% of a total project – and this is money well worth spending. 

7. Mentally Prepare for the Chaos of Construction

Construction is loud, messy, and brings chaos to the sanctuary of your home.  Some people have an easier time coping with the stress of a remodeling project than others so it’s important to know what you can and can’t live through and to prepare for it.  If you work at home or have young children and pets, it’s highly advisable that you add to your budget for temporary housing – or plan to stay with a friend or family member during construction.  If you plan to live through the construction, make sure that you create zones and spaces that are separated that you can live in and plan to do a lot more dusting than you normally do.  Ask your contractor for construction cleans periodically and be prepared to leave for small periods of time.  In the end, it will all be worth it! Check out some more home renovation mistakes.