Buying a home is one of the most exciting, and stressful, experiences you can have in your adult life. This is especially true if you plan to renovate your new home. Not only are you investing in real estate, but your renovations can have a huge impact on your home’s value in the future.
That’s why you want to be like Tom Cruise and make all the right moves in your renovation. From planning a budget to picking a contractor there a lot of missteps you can make in your home renovation plan.
Not sure what you should avoid to make the renovation process as painless as possible? We’ve got you covered. Read on to learn about common home renovation mistakes.
Table of Contents
1. Choosing an Underwhelming Contractor
A good contractor can make or break your home renovation. That means two things: unless you’re making very minor renovations, then you need to hire a contractor; and you should never settle for the first contractor you find.
Start by culling online review sites and getting recommendations from your friends and family to develop a list of potential contractors. Then you’ll want to invite them to discuss your renovation plans and get estimates. Shoot for meeting with at least three potential contractors.
If they promise you the world for not a lot of money, then that is a red flag that they’re not on the up and up. Don’t be afraid to ask for references and check that they are bonded and insured.
2. Permits? What Permits?
Even though you own your home and the land beneath it, it doesn’t mean that you can make any changes you want. If you want to make any physical changes to the outside of your home — such as adding a pool, a pool house, or an addition to your home — then you need to determine if a permit is needed for those changes and acquire the permit before you start working on that project.
As a reminder, if you in a community with a homeowner’s association, then you’ll need to make sure your renovations are within the bylaws, too. A good contractor should be on top of permits and HOA restrictions.
3. Not Including a Cushion in Your Budget
When you sit down to make your budget, keep in mind that, just like on every home renovation show you’ve seen, homes tend to have surprises that lead to unexpected expenses. That’s why it’s imperative that you leave a little breathing room in your budget to cover those expenses.
Be sure to dedicate approximately 10-15 percent of your overall budget to unexpected expenses. If you’re lucky, you won’t need it and you can invest that money in new decor, a nice vacation, or just put it back into savings.
4. Not Sticking to Your Plan
Unexpected expenses throw a wrench into your renovation plans, sure, but so do last-minute changes to your plan.
Renovation plans are called plans for a reason: everything is planned out in advance and then executed. So if you tell your contractor to paint your kid’s room “soft duckling” yellow and then change your mind to “melted butter,” then your contractor is going to have to mix and buy new paint, tacking on to your already tight budget.
Long story, short: make your decisions wisely, and stick to them.
5. Expecting Things to Happen Fast
In the world of home renovations, nothing happens fast. That’s why you should always have a realistic time frame in mind when you start your renovation.
There are a few reasons why a realistic timeline will save you a ton of stress. First, it’ll help you create a better budget. If you’re planning on living somewhere else while the renovation is done, this is especially true. After all, the longer the renovation goes on, the longer you’re paying for a second living space.
It’s also helpful even if you plan on staying in your home for the renovation. At the very least, it’ll save your sanity when the contractors aren’t out of your home when you expect them out.
6. Being Unrealistic About Your Budget
Planning your budget should be one of the first things you do when you start a home renovation. But if you’re not realistic, then you’ll set yourself up for some big-time disappointment.
You worked hard to save up (or borrow) the money you need for your home renovation. But in the world of home renovations, what sounds like a huge amount of money to you is chump change to contractors on vendors.
On average, homeowners spend $25,000 to $50,000 on kitchen renovations alone. That means a total overhaul of your house will cost you well over $100,000. If you aren’t sure if your budget is realistic, talk with your contractor to see how far your money can go.
7. Investing in Trendy Styles
Home renovations aren’t just about creating a nicer living space for you and your loved ones, it’s also about investing in your home’s value. That’s why you need to be thoughtful about your style choices for your home.
Remember those glass block walls from the 90s? If you’ve ever looked at a house with those walls, you’ve undoubtedly thought it was dated. Those glass blacks were super trendy at the time they were put in, but they didn’t age well and are now a drain on that home’s value.
The same thing is going to happen if you put super trendy pieces in your home. If you want to keep your home’s value up, then you should opt for more classic styles that will be relevant for years to come.
8. Skimping on Materials
The number one thing you should remember when planning your home renovation is that you get what you pay for. There are loads of cheaper alternatives to expensive materials on the market, but going cheap doesn’t always save you money.
For example, inexpensive peel and stick flooring make save you a ton of money on laminate or hardwood flooring, but it also won’t last nearly as long. In the end, cutting corners will give you a renovation that looks good for a short time, but isn’t really an improvement when materials need to be replaced more frequently.
9. Going Over the Top
Deciding not to skimp on materials doesn’t mean you need to sink a ton of money into luxury materials. Nothing will sink your budget faster than expensive materials like marble countertops, teak wood flooring, and expensive electronics that become outdated almost as soon as they are installed.
Find the middle ground between affordability and quality materials. And if you want a little luxury, put it in key places, like countertops.
10. Not Hiring a Designer
If you’re doing a whole home renovation, then it’s important to invest some money in hiring a designer. Unless you’ve gone to school for interior design, then it’ll be difficult for you to make important design plans like knocking out walls and making the best use of space.
A good designer will help you make complex design decisions in every room, such as mixing patterns and choosing colors that won’t overwhelm you and your visitors. They can also help make your home look up to date in a way that won’t leave your home looking like a relic ten years down the line.
Would you make a five-tier wedding cake for your best friend’s wedding just because you can make a killer bundt cake? No? Then invest a little money in a designer to make a big difference in your home.
11. Doing a Complete Renovation When You Can’t Afford It
Buying a home that needs a little love is tough, particularly when you don’t have enough money upfront to give it the love it needs. There are a couple of solutions to this: buy a move-in ready home or buy a less expensive fixer. Or you can do what many homeowners have to do: take renovations one step at a time by making carefully thought out improvements one room at a time.
If your budget is small, then you won’t be able to do many substantive renovations throughout the whole house. But if you focus that one on one room, and then wait until you have the money for the other rooms, you’ll end up with a stunning house with a higher value than when you purchased it.
12. Not Anticipating Being Stressed Out
Last, but certainly not least, when you start a home renovation, you should always mentally prepare yourself for the amount of stress and turmoil involved in the process. Find times to zen out and relax, and always prepare for mishaps.
Thankfully, if you follow our advice, your home renovation process will be a whole lot less stressful!
Don’t Make These Home Renovation Mistakes!
Whether your renovation budget is big or small, these common home renovation mistakes apply to anyone who attempts to take on the project. We can’t promise that avoiding these mistakes will make for smooth sailing on the renovation front, but it’ll make the process a whole lot less painful.
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