There’s a first time for everything, and few people undergo a home remodel without making at least one mistake. After all, when it comes to remodeling, nothing beats experience. And even if you’re an HGTV aficionado, it’s impossible to know everything before you begin a remodel. Here are some tips to help you avoid some of the most common remodeling mistakes.
Mistake #1: Lowballing the budget for your project
Even the best planned remodeling projects can go over the expected budget. Jonathan and Drew Scott of the hit TV show Property Brothers suggest setting aside an extra 15% of your total project budget as a cushion to cover unforeseen expenses. And if you’re remodeling an older home, you may want to set aside even more because older homes may require more upgrades on materials, fixtures, and more.
Mistake #2: Going with the low cost leader general contractor
Be wary of general contractors who come in with a too-good-to-be-true bid because you may end up getting what you paid for. We provided recommendations for hiring a general contractor in a previous post that you may want to consider.
When you get your written estimate from the contractors you’re interviewing for the job (and we suggest talking to at least three), be sure to get a comprehensive list of all the costs related to your remodel. For example, get information for items such as:
- The contractor’s fees
- Costs of cabinets, sinks, hardware, and any other features that will be installed
- All installation costs
- Waste removal
Mistake #3: Not getting proper permits
A reputable general contractor will get the necessary building permits for your job, but it behooves you to check with your local authorities as well to see what’s required. Not doing so runs the risk of affecting the resale value of your home, fines by your municipality, and causing unnecessary safety risks.
Mistake #4: Not being realistic about the timing for the project
Just as you include a financial cushion for your project, you want to build in a time cushion too. Remodeling projects often take longer than planned for a whole host of reasons, including weather, materials availability, and more. So, if you’re planning to have your new bathroom or deck ready in time for the holidays or your daughter’s wedding, be sure to give your builders plenty of time to get everything done well in advance.
Mistake #5: Not putting safety first
Enthusiasm for a new remodeling project should never supercede safety precautions. For every aspect of the project, from permitting and following building codes, to the work area itself, to the safety of your family, pets, and workers, make sure all safety precautions are taken before and during your remodel.
Mistake #6: Buying cheap materials for important parts of the remodel
Spending a bit more on quality materials and features can actually save you money in the long run, says home services site Angie’s List. For example, spending more to buy efficient, high-quality windows for your climate can reduce your heating and cooling costs by as much as 33 percent. Other things that may cost more up front but save you money over the long term are proper insulation and even high-quality caulk.
A larger expense, but one that you don’t want to scrimp on is your roof, whether it’s materials or the workers doing the installation. The consequences of a bad roofing job can impact your entire home and cost you far more on the long run than putting in a high-quality roof.
Mistake #7: Not ordering enough flooring
If you’re putting in new flooring, a general rule of thumb is to buy 20% more than you think you’ll need. You want to be prepared for breakage, mistakes, and also irregularities in patterns, such as with wood flooring. Furthermore, there’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to get more of certain flooring materials later on.
Mistake #8: Not measuring properly
With flooring, spaces for appliances, ceiling heights, doorways, large furniture, and more – measure and then measure again multiple times. In fact, it wouldn’t hurt to have another person measure the same space for added assurance that you don’t make any costly mistakes by having something not fit properly.
Mistake #9: Making doorways, halls, and bathrooms too small
As with measuring properly, you’ll want to ensure your remodel accommodates for the amount of space you’ll realistically need. Be sure to check your plans to ensure that doorways, halls, closets, bathrooms, etc. will be large enough to accommodate move-ins, large appliances, and furniture. In addition, consider if anyone in your household will ever need a wheelchair or if you’ll have guests who are in wheelchairs. Can your bathroom accommodate them?
Mistake #10: Not matching the architectural style of the home
While it might be tempting to change styles, doing a remodel that does not fit with the existing architectural style of your home can be a mistake and hurt your home value. For example, if you’re putting in a swimming pool and your home is very straight and linear, you’ll probably want a rectangle shaped pool vs. a style with irregular curves. Consulting with experienced architects, contractors, and designers can guide in how to select the best designs that will work harmoniously with your entire home.
Mistake #11: Not being a good neighbor.
If your remodel is going to be noisy or if you’ll have a dumpster in the front of your home, let your neighbors know ahead of time. You’ll also want to notify them of the times you’ll have workers on site. In addition, think about how your remodel will enhance not just your home, but your whole neighborhood. Remodels that add to your property value and make your neighborhood look better have the best odds of being well-received by your neighbors.
Mistake #12: Skimping on things you can’t see
Another mistake the Property Brothers recommend avoiding is not investing in things that are hidden behind superficial, aesthetic features. For example, they recommend putting in a bathroom membrane system, which will go under your tiles to prevent cracking and also to protect from water damage and mold. The same goes for your laundry room. A floor drain installed with your washer can help direct overflowing water into your home’s drainage system.
Remodeling a home should be a fun project. Taking extra precautions ahead of time will ensure you get the most from your investment.