Most people who have renovated a home have at least one horror story about something that went awry in their project.
Whether you ordered the wrong marble countertops, discovered black mold that delayed progress or miscommunicated with your contractor, it’s likely that your own mishaps were due to one of the five most common renovation mistakes that people tend to make.
Fortunately, you don’t have to fall victim to these avoidable errors. According to Jean Brownhill, the founder of online renovation service Sweeten, there are simple ways to skip most setbacks altogether. All you have to do is be flexible and listen to her sage advice.
Many homeowners try to save money by handling the logistics of their remodel themselves, but it’s easier said than done. In fact, it’s quite challenging to order all the products in the proper specifications and ensure they’re delivered both on time and in the correct sequence. “Delays are created by ordering the wrong product or quantity and waiting for materials to arrive,” Brownhill explains.
A talented contractor likely has much more experience to successfully execute these tasks, but if you choose to run the logistics yourself, Brownhill recommends at least working with your contractor to guarantee that your plan generally accommodates the availability, delivery, and installation sequence of your materials.
Not Expecting the Unexpected
“Gutting the house or opening walls often reveals unpleasantries like black mold, termite activity, rotting studs, and joists or foundation issues,” says Brownhill. If you are unprepared to address such flaws, there will be troublesome delays and costs associated with their uncovering. As long as you budget time and money to deal with these circumstances, you’ll be able to prevent them from worsening down the line. This due diligence may also help your contractor to provide a more accurate cost estimate and work schedule.
Homeowners should also expect to be at the mercy of the local municipality that controls permits and inspection approvals, Brownhill informs. This means the city government could affect the project schedule at different stages because multiple inspections may be needed for a single aspect of the project. Awareness of this process will avert frustration and allow you to organize your timeline accordingly.
Miscommunicating with Your Contractor
While it’s human nature to avoid confrontation, it can be critical to speak up when it comes to your renovation. If you ignore your concerns without pointing them out to your contractor, it could be too late to fix the problem by the time they become obvious. For that reason, Brownhill advises building an open line of communication with your contractor. “Before construction begins, be as clear and detailed in your scope of work as possible,” she urges. “Include every detail and surface that will be transformed by the remodel, including ceilings.”
When issues do arise, it is best for both parties to say something. “Contractors are invested in having a happy client and a future referral,” Brownhill describes. “Reach out via email so that concerns are clearly conveyed and answers can be referred back to. There is often a reasonable explanation or a willingness to correct a problem.”
Trying to Save Money with DIY
Experienced DIY-ers, have at it, but getting swept up in maker culture without the necessary skills can lead to disaster. “Homeowners taking on full DIY home renovations risk injury in many ways,” Brownhill warns. “Old paint might be lead-based or floor tiles could have asbestos. Black mold is common in ceilings, attics, and walls. Falls, which are the most common type of household injury, can occur even when you are on a ladder painting crown molding.”
Rather than being emboldened by YouTube videos, Brownhill advocates for hiring a professional who has the know-how and gear to keep themselves and your family safe. The quality, cleanliness, and timing of the work may also be much improved with a professional.
Making Last-Minute Edits
“Changing your mind on a feature that has already been fabricated or installed can have costly implications, so you really have to understand what you are agreeing to before work kicks off,” Brownhill says. Swapping even small details can have a domino effect, she continues, so be prepared to work with your contractor to problem-solve if you do have to make adjustments. If you can make all your decisions final ahead of time, though, you’ll be much more likely to have a seamless remodeling experience.