Renovation, particularly DIY renovation, is huge for homeowners right now. If you’re in the majority considering a renovation, the operative word is “plan.” Jim Hubbard, owner of Remodeling Experts in St. Louis, MO, tells Freshome, “Doing the work is easy, but planning and making good selections – that’s the hard part.”
Failing to plan is the overall remodeling sin that homeowners make. However, within that broad category, these are the seven deadly remodeling sins that can ruin your project and your budget.
Do your research to make sure you’re not surprised by costs. Image: dSPACE Studio Ltd.
1. Having an unrealistic budget
“’Budget’ is a very tricky word – when it is mentioned, people seem to get a little shy,” Hubbard says. “Sometimes, when I hear the homeowner’s budget, I wonder if they came up with it from watching a DIY TV show, because those amounts won’t work in the real world.”
If you can’t afford the project, Hubbard advises that you wait until you can do it right. “It’s never good to finish a job and say ‘I wish we would have done this instead of that.’”
A few best practices will help you make the most of your space. Image: Hanson Fine Building
2. Being inefficient with space
Research can go a long way in planning for upgrades or additions, as well. When considering the placement of new appliances, consult with a designer or study common room layouts.
For example, if you’re remodeling your kitchen, many designers recommend the “kitchen triangle” for its efficient use of space. In the triangle, the sink, the range and the refrigerator should form a triangle. In its expanded version, the triangle consists of zones: the sink/dishwasher, the cooktop/oven/stovetop/microwave and the refrigerator/freezer.
Ensure everything is in working order and under code before committing to your remodeling plan. Image: Glenvale Kitchens
3. Committing faux pas
To err is human, but design mistakes can be costly. Maybe you don’t have enough clearance to open the dishwasher because the new partition wall is too close. Or, perhaps you can only open the cabinet drawer a few inches before it bumps into the wall trim.
Another faux pas: failing to put ground-fault circuit interrupter outlets in areas that might come into contact with water. According to the National Electrical Code, this includes kitchens, bathrooms, wet bar areas, garages and basements, in addition to outdoor areas that are subject to rain and snow. If you install a regular outlet, you’ll have to pay an electrician to remove it and replace with a GFCI interrupter outlet.
Take into account structural issues before making large remodeling changes. Image: Gaile Guevara
4. Forgetting the age of the home
Another mistake is failing to account for structural issues. Most people aren’t remodeling new homes, and older homes can have a variety of problems under the surface. For example, termites or rotting wood may be present under walls. In addition, the wiring may be insufficient, or the plumbing may need to be replaced. You should add at least 10% to your budget to account for unexpected issues.
It may not be necessary to replace every old item during your remodel. Image: Elizabeth Roberts Architecture & Design
5. Insisting on shiny and new
The goal of a remodel is to make substantial changes, but don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Should you really discard those perfectly good appliances? Perhaps you can spray paint them using stainless steel appliance paint. If your cabinets are in good shape, you can probably refinish and repaint them as well. And, when purchases are unavoidable, consider mid-grade instead of top-of-the-line products.
Swimming pools may seem like a great addition, but they don’t always have resale value. Image: taC Studios, Architecture and Design
6. Following fads
“You need to figure out what is a fad and what is timeless,” Hubbard says. For example, many buyers, especially those with small children, are not looking for homes with swimming pools. Also, remember those three- and four-car garages? A garage that’s so large it becomes a focal point is hardly a selling point.
Have a list of questions prepared for your contractor. Image: Bien Zenker
7. Not vetting your contractor
Many homeowners get references from clients or ask to see other work the contractor has completed. However, Hubbard says it’s important to dig much deeper. By doing your research, you can avoid a lot of problems. These are some of the questions he recommends you ask yourself:
- Is this person too busy to do my job?
- Does this person have the manpower to do my job?
- Does this person have work comp and the insurance to do my job?
- How long have the subcontractors worked for this person?
- How long have the employees worked for this person?
- Is this person financially stable? (Many times, when a company is going under, it will still take payments.)
- Does this person have a shop, or are they working out of their home? (It’s important to see a place of business to ensure the contractor will still be around tomorrow.)
Can you think of additional remodeling sins? Leave us a comment below.