If you’re thinking about home renovations, chances are you’ve imagined working with a trustworthy contractor who helps ensure your schedule is met and your new materials are installed without issue–all within budget. Real renovations are not that simple, unfortunately, and often disappoint; but by understanding common pitfalls and how to avoid them, you can increase the chance that your home renovations will meet or even exceed your expectations.
- Budget Blunders. Home renovations are costly, so it’s no surprise that big mistakes often center on budgeting. Many homeowners start projects without a set budget. This can lead to scope creep and unexpected expenditures, or even exhausting your funds before completing the project.
Even more common is setting an unrealistic budget. Experts suggest taking your initial budget and increasing it by 10-20 percent. Keeping money in reserve will help you handle unexpected issues. Even with a cushion, be prepared to make trade-offs based on complexities you encounter in the course of the project.
- Cutting the Contractor. It can be tempting to jump into home renovations without hiring a general contractor. But your GC is a worthwhile investment who takes care of coordinating your subcontractors, which keeps your project on schedule and running smoothly.
Also, your GC knows the local trades and can identify fair pricing and good subcontractors. Your contractor also knows permit requirements, building codes and insurance requirements–details that are time consuming to track and costly if missed.
- Choosing the Wrong Contractor. Many homeowners make the mistake of jumping in with the first contractor they meet. A good guideline is to interview contractors until you find three that you like and then request bids. Make sure you consistently communicate the project scope and details to each contractor to ensure you’re comparing apples to apples when you review the bids.
Another trap is choosing the contractor with best price. Be wary of the lowest bid, and take the time to analyze big variations in pricing before you choose.
Before signing on, ensure the contractor has a clear Better Business Bureau record, good references and a current license and insurance certificate.
- Indecision…and Change.Changing your mind once plans are complete and products are bought or installed creates extra costs, delays and a frustrated renovation team. Working with a designer can help you define the specifics of your project–do I want granite or marble?–and provide a 3D model to help you visualize the space.
If a professional designer isn’t in the budget, take advantage of online resources like Houzz and Pinterest, where you can create boards to specify the details you want included in your home renovations and communicate those to your contractor. You’ll both be confident about exactly what you want to achieve,before costly work is done.
- Choosing Cheap.Some homeowners make the mistake of choosing products and materials based on how they look today, ignoring quality and life span. That bargain bathroom vanity won’t seem like a deal anymore once the drawer guides break and the doors become crooked in a year. Investing in quality materials now ensures you won’t spend more in the long run to repair or replace.
Another cost-saver that leads to trouble is redoing only what shows, ignoring elements below the surface. For example, renovating without making necessary updates to systems like plumbing, ventilation and wiring can result in an attractive space that is also impractical or uncomfortable.
When undertaking home renovations, mistakes are common and costly. But by understanding the most common pitfalls and how to avoid them, you can position yourself for a successful project.