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Kevin Ahern

By: Kevin Ahern on November 18th, 2019

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4 Common and Preventable Remodeling Mistakes

Residential Remodeling

Remodels are complex projects, with many chances for error. Most homeowners conduct remodels only occasionally, and are not experts in the remodeling process. It's easy for homeowners to make mistakes when beginning a remodel, because they haven't done it enough to learn from their own mistakes.

Knowing what mistakes are most common can help you avoid the problems that other homeowners may have experienced. For more information about common preventable remodeling mistakes, read on, or contact Litchfield Builders for a consultation. For more information about how to choose a professional home remodeling contractor, check out our free download.

1. Hiring an Unsuitable Contractor

Not all contractors are right for the job. Some contractors may be inexperienced and unprepared for the work. Others may have unscrupulous business practices, or may use low-quality materials to increase profit margins. Hiring an unsuitable contractor can lead to shoddy work, which can be expensive to fix.

How can you avoid this problem? Vet your contractor thoroughly.

  • Licensure. Check your contractor's license before signing a contract. Make sure your contractor has an active HIC license with the state of Connecticut. 
  • Experience. Check references to verify your contractor's experience, and make sure that experience is similar to the work that you're having done on your home. 
  • Communication. Assess your contractor's communication skills. Does your contractor respond to questions quickly? Does your contractor answer all your questions clearly?
  • Reputation. Does your contractor belong to an association, or has your contractor been given awards for good workmanship?

2. DIYing the Wrong Project

Not all projects can be safely completed by a homeowner. For example, plumbing projects and bathroom remodels gone wrong can lead to leaks, causing wood rot, mold and structural damage. 

How can you avoid this problem? Research your project before getting started. Watch videos online, read product descriptions and manufacturer installation instructions. If applicable, get a DIY book.

Sometimes the best source of information are the experts, so talk to a few contractors. Ask them questions like how long the project will take, what they'll do to complete the project and what challenges they anticipate they'll encounter when doing the work. Remember, the contractor will likely have tools and expertise that will make the job easier for them. Talking to the contractor will give you a sense of whether this project is realistic for you. 

3. Failure to Understand the Contract

Signing a contract that you don't understand, or a contract that is missing information, can lead to problems before the project is over.

How can you avoid this problem? Read the contract carefully, ask questions, seek answers from a professional. Remember, the contract protects you and reduces the chances of miscommunication between you and your contractor. The contract should include the following:

  • Contractor name, contact information and license number
  • Homeowner name and contact information
  • Job site address
  • Scope of work
  • Itemized list of expenses
  • Allowances (estimated charges for products not yet chosen)
  • Information about how change orders will be made
  • Payment terms

If the contract is missing this information, talk to your contractor. Ask your contractor to revise the contract until you're satisfied with the contents. Changes that are made to the contract should be made in writing. If you don't understand what the contract says, ask for clarification from your contractor, or consult with an attorney if the situation seems to warrant it.

4. Changing Your Mind Midway Through the Project (Over, and Over Again) 

Change orders delay progress and can be expensive. Small changes may seem like no big deal to you, but they can cause operational issues for your contractor, leading to bigger problems down the road. 

How can you avoid this problem? Have a plan before getting started. Know what you want to accomplish when your remodel is finished. Have a list of goals. Choose your fixtures and features to meet those goals.

Look at pictures of remodels, sample products, and talk to your contractor about your plans before starting your remodel. Share pictures of products and materials you like with your contractor. Your contractor can discuss advantages and disadvantages of different materials, to help you choose the right product for your upcoming project. 

Make a budget, too. With a solid budget in place, you'll know what you can and can't afford to change once the project gets underway. Hopefully your contractor will also alert you to cost differences before you sign off on any change orders, so you'll be able to tell whether those changes can bit fit into your budget. 

If you must make changes midway through the project, be prepared for the timeline to change. Your contractor may have to order materials that take a long time to arrive, and may have to make other changes to the plan as well. Communicate with your contractor in the event that you need to make a change order, to keep surprises to a minimum. 

Contact Litchfield Builders

Are you planning a remodel? Do you have questions about the remodel process, and how to be successful? What will you do to avoid the most common preventable remodeling mistakes? Start a dialogue. Leave your comments in the box below. 

At Litchfield Builders, we've been helping homeowners with their home improvement projects for more than twenty years. As New Haven's premiere contractor, we offer quality work. We provide references to homeowners who request them.

We're happy to guide you through the home remodeling process. To get started, contact us today for a consultation. To learn more about home remodeling, download our free guide, How to Choose a Professional Home Remodeling Contractor.How to Choose a Professional Home Remodeling Contractor

About Kevin Ahern

Kevin is the Co-Founder of Litchfield Builders, an award-winning, industry leader with a reputation for managing projects others shy away from. They are known for their high-quality work, customer service, and reliability and though still relatively small in size, Litchfield Builders now competes with some of the areas largest firms in both the residential and commercial arenas.