11 Biggest Remodeling Mistakes New Homeowners Make
Most people get better at remodeling over time - often after making more than a few remodeling mistakes. First-time homeowners in particular are likely to make mistakes when remodeling their house because they're often on a tight budget, and they're new to home remodeling.
If you're a new homeowner, or even an experienced homeowner who has little experience with home improvement projects, here's what you need to know about the most common home remodeling mistakes. Knowing the pitfalls to avoid will help you increase the likelihood of success in your home improvement project.
1. Didn't Make a Budget
Your budget is almost like a guide during your home improvement project. Knowing your budget can help you establish project parameters that can make the decision making process easier during the planning stages and even after the improvement project gets started.
Budgeting is one of the first things you should do when starting plans for your upcoming renovation. Once you know how much you can afford to spend, many other details will fall into place naturally. Communicate your budget with your contractor before the project begins.
2. Didn't Prioritize
Address the important home improvement problems first, then address less urgent problems later. Fix the roof leak before remodeling your kitchen. Replace broken appliances before replacing your old windows.
Addressing these problems will help improve your home's value and, because problems have a way of getting worse with time, will also save you money in the long run.
3. Didn't Vet the Contractor Thoroughly
It's tempting to hire the first contractor that quotes an affordable price, but not all contractors have equal skills and business practices. Vet your contractor thoroughly. Check to be sure your contractor is licensed, and check references before signing a contract. Meet several contractors in person before hiring a qualified contractor to do the job.
4. Didn't Arrange For Life During the Remodel
Some remodels can take a long time and can be very disruptive. Have a plan for maintaining quality of life in your home while the remodel is taking place. This might mean rearranging sleeping quarters, sending pets to live with relatives, or having a plan in place to prepare food, even without use of your kitchen. Work out your plans ahead of time, before the work begins.
5. Hired the Cheapest Contractor
Skilled contractors set their prices based on the cost of materials, overhead and skilled labor. Contractors that undercut their competition to get the job may be intentionally underbidding only to raise the price later, or may be mistakenly bidding low because they don't have the experience to know how much the job will really cost. Either way, hiring the lowest cost contractor is often a mistake.
6. Did It DIY Instead of Hiring a Pro
For many new homeowners, the perfect DIY project is one that can be completed in just a couple hours and requires no specialized knowledge, training or tools. Think: hanging blinds. Floating shelf installation. Replacing toilet tank parts.
New homeowners who perform major remodels as a DIY project often find themselves hiring a contractor later to do repairs. Know when to hire a professional.
7. Purchased Lower Quality, Low-Cost Appliances
Low cost appliances don't last very long, use more energy, and really don't add a lot of value to your house. While it may seem sensible to purchase low-cost appliances when you're planning your remodel, it's better to buy a longer-lasting, higher-performing appliances that will save energy, reduce the cost of your utility bills and require fewer repairs over time.
To get the best value for your money, do some consumer research before selecting your appliances. If you can't afford good appliances, you may be better off waiting until you have the money saved.
8. Underestimated Costs
For a new homeowner on a budget, it's tempting to believe that a little thrifty shopping and advanced planning can save money and reduce remodeling costs. Underestimating costs can lead to trouble and stress. Be up front with your contractor about your budget, and if your contractor is quoting a price that falls outside what you can afford, work with your contractor to limit the scope and make the project more affordable.
9. Played the General Contractor
One way that new homeowners sometimes try to save money on home improvement projects is by hiring subcontractors and "playing the general." General contractors spend years developing planning and coordination skills that keep home improvement projects running smoothly. Generals also hire skilled labor, and know the process for performing a variety of home improvement projects. Few homeowners can take the place of a general and be as successful.
10. Made Changes Midway Through
Once a home improvement project is underway, making changes to the scope of the project will cost money and time. Knowing what you want in advance and sticking to the plan can help ensure that your home improvement project will go smoothly.
11. Hired the Wrong Contractor for the Wrong Reason
Don't hire a contractor just because they're available to start work by your deadline, or because they quoted a low price that appeals to you. Hire the contractor you trust most to do the work well. Remember, you'll be living with the finished results of this home improvement project for a long time. You'll be happier if you hire the right contractor for the job.
Avoid Remodeling Mistakes. Start Your Remodel Research Now.
Avoid common problems that can occur during your home improvement project. Hire a contractor that is skilled and experienced. To learn more about how to start a successful home remodeling project in Connecticut, download our free guide, 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.