Starting a home renovation is an exciting prospect for new homeowners. You’re in a new space and looking at everything with fresh eyes, ready to retile that bathroom and revamp the back patio. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the idea of new kitchen cabinets, sleek light fixtures or gutting that pink-tiled ’70s master bathroom, but it’s important to take your time with home-improvement decisions and make smart choices to avoid wasting time and money.
Whether you’re planning a full-scale kitchen renovation or just adding a fresh coat of paint to your bedroom walls, here are some mistakes to avoid.
1. You fall in love with an expensive design
According to trained architect and founder and CEO of Sweeten Jean Brownhill this is one of the biggest and most common mistakes. Brownhill explains, “If you see a lot of lines — moldings, wainscoting, herringbone floors, etc. — it’s expensive. The converse is also true: a super-modern space with no lines (floating walls, no base molding or crown molding, everything looking straight and beautiful) is also expensive. The only way you’d be able to achieve the dream photo is to bust your budget. Even if you are determined to get the materials for less money, you still need high-quality labor to install it. Some looks you can’t get for less.”
2. You don’t hire a true professional
Watching a few YouTube videos on rewiring the electrical in your home does not make you an electrician. “You should apply the same logic to any professional you’d use in your life to hiring a general contractor,” Brownhill tells us. “You wouldn’t go to a doctor and tell yourself, ‘Oh, it will be fine. He doesn’t document his work. He’s willing to do this without a license.’ Accepting that super-cheap bid could lead to an unlicensed contractor being unable to obtain proper permit. Plus, you’re responsible for the cost of repairs if the work doesn’t meet building codes, which is especially important in resale.”
For smaller jobs like furniture assembly, painting or mounting shelves on the wall, consider using a service like Task Rabbit, which offers qualified freelance ‘taskers’ to do an array of home projects. More and more interior designers are offering their services online for a fraction of the cost and time it takes to work with a traditional decorator. Check out companies like Decorist, Havenly and Homepolish, which all offer online design services for any budget.
3. You try to cut corners by buying cheap materials
The “you get what you pay for” maxim holds true for home renovations. Sure, the flooring that costs $3 less per square foot sounds great for your wallet. But when that flooring wears out, cracks and needs to be replaced a year later, you’ll be wishing you had invested in quality materials from the start.
There are some ways you can still cut back on costs without skimping on quality. One of our favorite ideas is to try using a remnant piece of stone, like granite or quartz, for smaller surfaces like bathroom counters instead of a full slab.
4. You choose a trendy design
That farmhouse sink and open shelving might look great now, but will they withstand the test of time and, more important, improve the resale value of your home? This is especially true for kitchens and bathrooms. Remodeling your kitchen can be one of the most expensive home improvements you can make, so it makes more sense to go with one or two trendy elements you love, like a built-in sink or flat-front cabinetry, instead of making the whole thing a bold, trendy resale nightmare that you may tire of in a few years.
5. The project never ends
It’s easy to get carried away with a home renovation. Brownhill explains, “Create a punch list, and when it’s done, let your general contractor go. Professionalism on both sides is needed. Otherwise, you could wind up paying a premium through change orders for ‘a few other little things’ you want him to fix. These little fixes can really add up.”