10 Home Renovation Mistakes New Homeowners Often Make
Now that you’ve bought your first house, it’s time to give it a new look. One journey to becoming a satisfied homeowner just ended. The next one begins.
But do you know renovating is not as simple as it might first appear? It’s not just hiring any remodeling contractor to do the big job. It’s a matter of taking wise steps to make everything go easy on you and your pocket. It’s also about avoiding some common home renovation mistakes homeowners (especially new homeowners) often make.
In this post, I’ll highlight some common house remodeling mistakes so you can avoid those. I will also share solutions for those mistakes so you can save your time, money, and effort.
Common Home Remodeling Mistakes You Must Avoid
Use this list to move between home renovating mistakes and their solutions:
- Starting too soon
- Underestimating renovation costs
- Expecting everything to go as planned
- Going for the lowest bid
- Hiring a misfit contractor
- Pretending to understand the plan
- Not asking enough questions
- Not setting up a timeline
- Skimping on quality
- Trying to DIY too much
Starting too soon
Sometimes people buy a resale house knowing all the flaws about it. There could be several reasons for that. Without going into details, a broken house needs fixing. That said, not every problem you find requires urgency. Some remodeling jobs can wait for a season or more, while some need a quick repair.
A good solution to this mistake is hiring a reputable house inspection company before buying the house. The company would inspect the house from tip to toe and will generate a detailed report for you. From that report, you can identify items requiring immediate care and those that could be delayed for a little time.
Now use that report and rearrange items by their urgency. Fix the issues with the highest sensitivity first and then move to other items. So, for instance, if you have a broken roof, window, and a door, you may start with fixing the roof, then the door, and lastly, the window.
If there are no serious problems with the house, you may separate items that require a professional contractor from those you can DIY. For instance, painting the walls, fixing a running toilet, and replacing a broken faucet are a few easy DIY home repair projects you could do anytime.
Underestimating renovation costs
Unlike fixed home prices, renovation prices will vary. These depend on the number of hours spent on the project, materials used, and the project type.
Some remodeling costs are easy to predict. For example, the cost to install a kitchen cabinet, kitchen countertops, and painting a room is easily estimated and hardly deviates from the cost estimation.
On the other hand, garage addition, electrical wiring, and flooring costs can be difficult to predict since you never know what you might find under the hood. That’s why contractors give an hourly wage in addition to the materials used. And that’s where the hurdle comes in. While estimating renovation costs, we often rely too much on the cost estimations provided by the contractor. We set our budget according to this estimation. Where in actuality, this cost may vary. It could go up due to some unforeseen events.
So when you’re estimating the project cost, add an extra 20% to your budget. That would help you in a difficult time.
Expecting everything to go as planned
Another hurdle that often comes in is expecting everything would go as we planned. Nothing is for sure, especially when you are remodeling the house. You’re lucky if the renovation goes as planned. In most cases, it doesn’t. Some hurdles will disturb your plan. Don’t rely too heavily on the plan the contractor suggested.
Just like cost estimation, keep a margin of difference. If the contractor says to complete bathroom renovation in three days, add 1-2 days above that timeline.
That reminds me of an event when I was adding a fence around my front yard. The contractor gave me a day to complete the job. It took nearly two days to complete the task.
Going for the lowest bid
Low bids aren’t always bad. But could you risk spending less for some cheap job? You can look for an economical contractor without hurting the quality of work. You can negotiate as well. But never compromise on quality.
That’s another mistake often new homeowners make. They want to save some bucks to manage their finances, but it could turn quite unfavorable in the long run.
Cost-saving is good. But smartly saving the cost is better. When you’re remodeling any part of the house, don’t look for the cheapest option. Look for the most honest, reliable, and skilled remodeler.
Skilled contractors set prices based on their experience, knowledge about their dominion, materials, and overhead costs. So when you meet a low bidder, ask what is involved in their service and how many years of relevant experience they have.
Hiring a misfit contractor
Just because someone has a good reputation in bathroom renovations doesn’t mean they’ll be a good fit for kitchen renovations. Before hiring a contractor, always ask a few common questions, such as:
- How many years of experience do they have?
- How many similar contracts have they completed?
- Some amazing completed jobs?
When you’re hiring a contractor, do ask close friends and family members for reference. They might give you some options, reducing the workload to find skilled contractors. But asking relevant questions can never get old.
It reminds me of an incident that happened with an investor friend in Milton, Canada. He is in the home-flipping business – a type of real estate investment business where investors buy disproportional residential properties, fix the issues, list them for sale, and earn a profit over their investment. So he found an affordable condo from a list of condos for sale in Milton and bought it immediately. He hired a contractor to do the necessary work. But he made the same mistake we are discussing here; he hired the wrong contractor. The contractor not only took more time working on this house, but he also did a very poor job. My friend had to hire another contractor to redo the job and then sold the house at a loss.
No matter if you aren’t a real estate investor, don’t hire a random contractor. Know all about them and only hire when you’re fully confident about their aptitude to complete the job.
Pretending to understand the plan
So now you have finally onboarded a contractor. You’re satisfied with their cost estimations and trust their ability to take on the contract. You also need to understand them and help them understand your needs.
Home renovation shows often give you new ideas. You fell in love and want the same with your house. But these TV shows often aren’t too explanatory. They might skip some important thing, or you could do that. And that replicates when you hire the contractor.
Make sure you convey what you want and understand how they would do that job for you.
Not asking enough questions
It’s perhaps the most important part that remains throughout the renovation process. It starts from finding the right contractor and lasts till the job is done.
Here is a list of top common questions you must ask your hiring contractor:
- How much experience do you have with this kind of project?
- Are you a licensed contractor?
- Do you carry workers’ compensation insurance?
- Would you provide a list of past clients?
- What is a realistic timeline for this project?
- Will you take care of the building permits?
- Who will purchase the materials?
- What happens if you find something unexpected?
- Who is responsible for cleaning up?
- What is the payment schedule?
- Tell me about your after-service support.
- How will we communicate throughout the project?
- Do you provide detailed contracts?
Not setting up a timeline
This mistake comes when you hire the wrong contractor – an unprofessional with no track records, relevant skill, or a strategy to do a remodeling assignment. When you hire a contractor, you must have a timeline – the timeline to complete the job.
On the other hand, even when you don’t know what’s behind that wall, a good contractor could have a good hunch of the unknown. They could also tell you a well-expected timeline for the project, only if you ask.
When we say a good contractor, we mean an experienced, skilled, and honest contractor. And an honest contractor will tell a realistic timeline for the project.
Trying to DIY too much
Do you enjoy DIY projects? I think everyone does. But do you have the required skill, equipment, time, and strength to remodel your bathroom or any other part of the house? If yes, you are good to go. If not, don’t take this risk. Hire a professional to do the job.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is simply taking up time to identify the issues needing a repair or fixing and then hiring the best suitable contractor or taking up the task as a DIY project with the right skills, time, and tools because you don’t want to mess up the house you just bought.