Taking on a major renovation can be a daunting task, and we want to help you avoid the most common renovation mistakes people make. The more prepared you are, the smoother the project will go, and the happier you (and your contractor) will be.
Top 10 Renovation Mistakes
Not Hiring Professionals / Not Knowing Your DIY Limit
We’re big fans of DIY, we really are. We love building and power tools, so we totally understand why people want to get hands-on with a renovation project. There’s nothing wrong with that, unless you don’t know your own DIY limit. There are just some things that are better left to professionals, like electrical or plumbing. The last thing you want is to DIY the plumbing in your new bathroom, only to have it flood because you didn’t do it right.
As Greg (owner of Greene Construction) says, “If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional, try hiring an amateur.” You’ll end up spending twice what you need to, because the professional will have to rip out the work that’s been done to re-do it.
Not Having a Professional Designer Help With Your Renovation Plan
We’re sure that you’ve been daydreaming about your renovation for months, or even years. You probably have hundreds of pins on your Pinterest board for inspiration. Bringing in a professional designer (or a design-build team, like us) can save you time and money in the long run as they can help you figure out what you truly want out of your renovation.
Not Getting Enough Bids From Contractors, Or Automatically Choosing The Lowest Bid
You should really take the time to vet a contractor that you’re thinking about hiring for a project. Choosing the lowest bid just to save money may not get you the best contractor for your specific project. Ask for references, not only from past clients but also from vendors. Ask to see examples of similar projects. We often have clients who come to us saying that their last contractor (who gave the lowest bid) stopped working because they ran out of money, or tried to up-charge them on something huge, claiming it wasn’t in the original bid.
Not Building a Buffer Into Your Budget
You’ll want to build a solid budget before you start a renovation project, and build in a buffer for yourself. This will give you flexibility if something comes up (as often does during construction) and means you won’t have to worry about cutting the budget somewhere else, like for the granite countertops you had your heart set on.
When your contractor suggests that you should order extra tile or flooring, do it! We know from experience that flooring can break during transit or installation, so having extra on-hand will save time and money. It often takes 2+ weeks for flooring to be delivered, which will delay everything if you end up needing extra! Check the return policy on unopened boxes, and you may be able to get a refund if you don’t end up using everything you order.
Cutting Corners / Using Cheap Materials
Renovations can get very expensive, but if you plan and budget properly, that shouldn’t be an issue. If you build in a buffer, like we mentioned above, you won’t have to worry about cutting corners elsewhere. Using cheaper materials may save you money now, but it’ll cost you more in the long run when you have to replace it because it breaks. Build it right the first time.
Being Uninformed On The Projects and Timelines
When you hire a contractor, work with them to stay informed on the project, the budget and the timeline. We often have clients that add to the original contract after work has started, so be aware that this will change the scope of work, the length of the project, and the overall budget.
Not Preparing Yourself For the Unexpected
We see it all the time with the projects we work on, especially because the homes in the Newburyport region are older. Problems come up. It’s inevitable with construction. Prepare yourself as much as possible for the snags that will pop up with your renovation. It’s lower your stress level and keep your project on track.
Not Following Proper Process for Permits, Inspections, Neighborhood Restrictions
Working in older towns like Newburyport, we know that the process for permits, inspections and neighborhood guidelines can be a headache. Be prepared to follow the guidelines as set by the town, and stay informed on how to be successful. Often in a small town, inspections only happen on one day a week, so you and your contractor will need to plan ahead to stay on schedule. With old neighborhoods, there are generally always restrictions on what kind of renovations or additions you can do to your home. Talk to your neighbors, and to the town about any restrictions that may exist before you start a project.
It’s incredibly important to pull the proper permits for construction work. If something happens and you have to bring in your insurance company, the first thing they’ll do is look to see if you had permits for the project. If you don’t have any, they’ll automatically deny your claim. Greg saw this happen first hand in the Newburyport Building Department. Don’t let it happen to you!
Taking On Too Much at Once
We know, renovations can be exciting! Maybe you’ve been planning and saving for a huge renovation, and you want to get everything done at once. Be careful of taking on too much at once. Keep your budget (and your buffer) in mind, as well as your own peace of mind. Consider what your life will be like if you take on a huge renovation while you’re still living in the house. If you can move out while it’s happening, that’s great! But make sure that is included in your budget.
Expecting Too Much On The ROI
Just because you’re spending $15,000 on your renovation won’t necessarily mean that you’ll get $15,000 or more back on the value of your house. Some renovations won’t increase your home’s value as much as you’d like, or hope. Consider what you’d really like to get out of your renovation. Is it for personal enjoyment, something you’ve always want to do? Or is it strictly for re-sale purposes?
If this hasn’t scared you away from starting your own renovation project, give us a call! We’d love to talk with you about designing and constructing your dream kitchen, bathroom or other remodeling project.