A renovation project is a great way to give your home a fresh look. But when planning renovations, there’s a bit more to consider than picking a cute paint color for the bathroom.
These jobs aren’t always as easy as they seem and can become challenging to tackle independently. Whether you’re updating the kitchen, painting the hallway, or installing new flooring throughout, it’s essential to do your research and prepare ahead of time to avoid making costly mistakes. Following are seven home renovation mistakes and how you can avoid them.
Ignoring Return on Investment
Any home improvement project is worth your time if it makes you happy. But not all improvements are worth your money. There are many renovations that will cost thousands of dollars but won’t increase your home’s value by the same amount you spend. Especially if you think there’s a chance you may sell your home soon, it’s best to focus on projects that will give you a good return for your money.
As an example, according to the Remodeling 2020 Cost vs. Value Report (www.costvsvalue.com), in the San Francisco area, a major upscale kitchen remodel may cost more than $160,000. However, the home’s increase in value would only be approximately $115,000 or around 70%. A more worthwhile project may be a midrange minor kitchen remodel for $30,000, in which the homeowner may recoup up to 94.4% of the costs.
It’s a good idea to discuss renovation plans with a professional such as a Realtor or contractor, as particular markets or neighborhoods may favor certain upgrades over others.
No Clear Budget
Due to poor planning or too many high-end upgrades, many homeowners who take on home remodeling projects end up spending more than they initially expected. While you don’t want to go cheap on materials or labor, you also don’t want to overspend. You can avoid accidentally overspending by planning out your project in advance and creating a budget.
To get an idea of how much a specific project might cost, investigate the cost of similar projects using sites like HomeAdvisor or Remodeling Magazine. Also, keep in mind that surprises will inevitably pop up, and unexpected conditions like termites and hidden plumbing leaks can skyrocket a small project’s cost. It’s recommended that you add 20-30% to your expected project costs to plan for the unexpected.
Finally, if you plan to finance your project, be sure to investigate your options carefully. Some options available to you are cash-out refinance, a home equity line of credit, a personal loan, or credit cards. However, each will come at varying costs depending on interest rates and the amount of time it will take you to pay off the loan.
Choosing the Cheapest Contractor
Even if you decide to DIY, it’s not a bad idea to have some professionals on call to help should the need arise. Also, renovations that involve electrical, plumbing, or other complicated and potentially dangerous jobs should be left to licensed professionals.
Take your time and get written estimates from at least three different contractors. Remember, the lowest price does not often mean the best job. Each estimate should include specific details of the project, including the materials you have selected and installation costs. There should also be at least mention of a waste removal plan, permit costs, insurance, general contractor fee, an explanation of how design changes are handled, and the work warranty. If your estimate doesn’t include these, the contractor may not be very thorough, or they could be underestimating the project.
Finally, don’t skip checking licenses and references. Ensure each contractor is appropriately licensed and capable of performing the work you plan to hire them to do. You can check the status of a contractor’s license in California here.
Once you do select a contractor, make sure you get your agreement in writing.
Cutting Corners to Save
It’s understandable and advisable to look for ways to save money on a large home improvement project. However, similar to choosing the right contractor, cheaper is not always better. Don’t avoid making repairs or choose lower-quality material for areas that are not readily visible. For example, overlooking the tile’s substructure in a bathroom remodel can lead to tile damage and mold growth. If you’re spending $15,000 on the project, why not spend an extra $1,000 to guarantee you won’t have these problems?
Talk to a contractor about what areas can withstand less expensive materials and where you want to ensure quality. Get the most out of your investment by making any outstanding repairs and investing in quality materials that will withstand the test of time. A solid plan is to select the best quality products that fit within your budget.
Try to focus on timeless looks before falling to the latest trends. By sticking as much as possible to neutral, sturdy materials and classic looks, not only will you keep your home looking great for longer, but you’ll also make it easier to resell in the future. You can always add pops of color and personality using furniture and art.
One of the most common home improvement mistakes, especially for DIY’ers, is measuring incorrectly. Incorrect measurements can cost a lot of money and create major headaches. Being off by even a fraction of an inch can result in purchasing too much or too little materials or not having enough space for your appliances or furniture.
To avoid this mistake, compare the specs for any appliances or furniture you plan to use to your renovation plans. Measure your project multiple times and in numerous places to ensure accurate dimensions. For example, it is recommended that you measure a window in three locations – the top, middle, and bottom, and go with the largest measurement.
If you decide to hire a professional, make sure they take their own measurements and check your math before ordering any materials.
Passing on Permits
As obnoxious as this additional expense can be, permits do help protect your home and safety. Without the necessary approvals and oversight, your renovation may not meet local building and safety codes. Failure to obtain permits could also affect your ability to sell your home in the future. Locate details about what permits, if any, your municipality requires for your type of project. If you’ve hired a contractor that has agreed to obtain the permits, be sure to review them before starting work.
The Bottom Line
A home remodeling project can significantly boost your home’s aesthetics and market value if you go about it in the right way. By setting a budget, researching contractors, and making sure your improvements use quality materials, you can help avoid expensive pitfalls and enjoy your home’s new design.
Let’s chat if you have questions about the return on a project you’re considering or if you need contractor recommendations.