Homeowners make remodeling mistakes all the time, which too often means going way over budget. Whether it’s a home remodeling project or a full kitchen renovation, it’s possible to learn from others’ mistakes – and set yourself up to have your dream home.

Before you lift a finger, review these tips so you can stick to your budget, increase the value of your home, and dodge a renovation nightmare. Plenty of homeowners learn the hard way (which usually includes yelling expletives and throwing tools). Let’s make sure you have everything you need so that’s not you!

1 – Failing to Vet Your Contractor

Hiring a contractor is a little bit like dating. You have to get to know each other first to see if a relationship is in your future. Do you enjoy this person? Do you communicate well? Do you trust they can get the job done? Have they met your qualifications? After all, they are going to be in your home and space for a good amount of time. It’s important to understand your expectations in order for the relationship to work.

Most importantly, go beyond reading the stellar reviews online and find out if that contractor is actually licensed and insured (you’d be surprised how many homeowners skip this important step). Have they had any complaints with DPOR (Department of Professional Regulations)? Are they legally allowed to take on a project of your size and scope?

To avoid hiring the wrong contractor, here are more quick tips to keep in mind:

  • Do not hire the first person you meet. Good contractors are in demand and worth waiting for, so if someone’s ready to start your project tomorrow, that’s a red flag.
  • Always talk to someone who has worked with them before – and dig into what exactly it is they enjoyed (and what surprised them) about working with their contractor.
  • Ask them to describe the last three projects they completed. Understanding what type of projects they’re most skilled at helps ensure they are the right fit for yours.
  • Obtain at least three estimates on the scope of work you need completed.

Take a look at these contractor questions that NARI (National Association of the Remodeling Industry) suggest you should ask before hiring any contractor for a renovation project.

2 – Skipping the Prep Work

Understand what you’re getting into before you even begin. Even if you’re hiring someone else to do the work, it’s important to know what to look for in a contractor and assert your role as a partner (more on that later).

Do your research and create a plan. We recommend using the Renovation Roadmap, which includes renovation checklists and preliminary design tools to help. Even if your project seems straightforward, preliminary work is important.

Here are a few examples of steps you can take before renovation to prepare –

  • Understand your “why” behind your remodel (and understand your intention)
  • Create a solid plan and discuss your expectations
  • Establish a timeline/schedule of completion
  • Choose and order your materials BEFORE construction starts

Doing the prep work before the saw dust starts to fly will save you many headaches further down the road and not only help keep you on budget but on schedule too. A little time spent upfront on both the big and little details can reap rewards throughout the project and keep your nerves at bay. If you know you are good at starting projects, but not finishing them, it might be smart to hire a contractor for the job.

3 – Underestimating Your Budget

You know the saying, champagne taste on a beer budget? More often than not, a renovator’s taste doesn’t align with their actual budget – so it’s important to be realistic with your contractor if you haven’t renovated before it’s hard to even know what a feasible budget is.

Although you might not know how much things cost, you do know what you’re willing to spend. Holding that information back from your contractor only hurts you both in the end. If they have an understanding of the budget range you’re trying to maintain, they can help you manage your budget, decide where to save and where to splurge. Surprises may come up, but if you are equipped ahead of time with a tool like the Renovation Roadmap, you can catch the budget busters before they happen. It’s always a good rule of thumb to set aside 10-15% of your total budget in case of an unanticipated problem or a last-minute addition.

4 – Ignoring Permits

When a contractor doesn’t pull permits, you the homeowner are the one left holding the bag. There’s no recourse for you should something go wrong, and there’s just no reason to put yourself at risk.

Ensuring your contractor pulls permits will protect you from shoddy workmanship and unscrupulous contractors.

This includes individual trades like electrical and plumbing too – they should be licensed, insured and pulling their own permits so you know things are done right. Allowing them to work without proper permits could result in hefty fines, project delays, problems selling your house or even having to revert your entire project.

5 – Buying Cheap Materials

Don’t compromise on quality. Consider materials carefully, and go with budget options when they don’t compromise the function. For example, using poor quality flooring could cost you in the long-run when they are ruined by foot traffic from your family and pets. Maybe spending a few more dollars on durability is more important than that pricey light fixture you’ve been eyeing. Take time to research your options, and make sure you splurge on items that will pay off long term.

Getting Ready to Remodel?

If you (or someone you know) is planning a remodel and would like support, I’m here to help. Whether through one-on-one coaching, or my online eCourse the Renovation Roadmap,I can help you stay on budget and on schedule.

And if there are there any tips you would like to add to the list – please share your experience in the comments!  

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Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] excitement and satisfaction, but fear, anxiety and frustration. Homeowners feel like they’re in renovation chaos, stuck between the home they wanted to change (but was comfortable in) and the one they know it can […]

  2. […] excitement and satisfaction, but fear, anxiety and frustration. Homeowners feel like they’re in renovation chaos, stuck between the home they wanted to change (but was comfortable in) and the one they know it can […]

  3. […] our first 5 remodeling mistakes post, we talked about everything from contractors to permitting to being realistic about your budget. […]

  4. […] but fear, anxiety and stress (which can be avoided). Homeowners feel like they’re in renovation chaos, stuck between the home they wanted to change (but was comfortable in) and the one they know it can […]

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