Remodeling Mistakes to Avoid

Remodeling Mistakes to Avoid

A home is typically a person’s single largest purchase and investment. It’s essential, then, that when renovating or remodeling your home, you avoid some of the most common mistakes that can leave you disappointed. The following list can help save you stress, time and money. 

Safety first – watch for lead paint.
If your home was built prior to 1978, it may contain lead paint. Lead paint should only be removed by someone certified to complete the process following proper standard safely protocols. 

Call those references.
You shouldn’t feel awkward asking for references. Most contractors are happy to provide names and numbers of prior clients. Here’s the thing: Most people don’t actually follow up and make the calls. Ask questions about promptness and tidiness and if the job was done within mutual time and budget agreements.  If you’re using someone who’s been referred to you through friends, take the opportunity to check out the workmanship first-hand. 

Get it in writing.
A quote for service should include the start date, estimated completion date, details as to exactly what is going to be done (and in some cases, not done), pricing and more. It should also detail whether work will be subcontracted to other people or companies. If you make changes to the contract, be sure to get them in writing (called change orders) along with the cost. When in doubt, don’t be pressured into signing any document without having an attorney or trusted and experienced friend review any paperwork before you sign.

Take your time.
If you have to pick paint colors, tile, carpeting, finishes, cabinetry, faucets, or even just one of those things, don’t wait until the last minute. You’re going to be living with these decisions for the next 5-10 years or more, so the effort is time well spent. Your additions don’t have to be the same style as the original structure, however, they should complement them. Remember, trends can be short-lived. Keep resale in mind when choosing new or unconventional designs. Consult a professional designer if you’re unsure about your ideas or have questions.

Be prepared for the unexpected.
Most projects, especially more ambitious ones, take longer than you think they will. If you’re using a contractor, ask how plans might be impacted. Also, take into consideration the impact and disruption a remodeling job may have on you and your family. If you are redoing your kitchen, do you have a plan for a temporary space to prepare meals and store food? How comfortable are you with incomplete projects? 

Come up with a a realistic budget.
This is another favorite from the HGTV and DIY network programs: folks who estimate that an entire house including a kitchen and two bathrooms can be totally ripped out and overhauled with high-end materials for $20,000 in just four weeks time. Do your research so you can properly assess estimates. Home renovation cost more than most people expect. Make sure you build in 20-percent extra into your budget to cover surprise expenses.

Don’t forget about lighting.
Lighting is often a forgotten element of a remodeling plan. Are you replacing dated fluorescent lighting with recessed lights? Perhaps you’re finally wanting under-cabinet lighting in the kitchen? Maybe you want to add exterior lighting for safety and some pizzazz? The goal is to create a well-lit, welcoming and usable environment. If you aren’t sure what’s best for your space, consult a lighting specialist to help you plan and size the fixtures. 

Final mistakes to avoid.
Don’t over-improve to the extent that you’ve made your home the most expensive on the block. One exception: If this is your ‘forever’ home or one you’ll be in for more than 10 years, take some leeway. Keep the entire project in mind when purchasing flooring, wall paint, cabinetry, lights and other elements. Make sure that what you purchase works together with the design to create a cohesive look; otherwise, you’re unlikely to get your return on the investment. If you’re remodeling in order to sell your home within 2-5 years, you may want to consult a realtor to find out what updates are most important to buyers (e.g. updated bathrooms, a media room, walk-in closets, etc.) in your area.

Four tips when hiring a contractor

Things to keep in mind

Don’t rush your decision on hiring a contractor, and interview several before you select one. Be sure they hold proper state licensing for the specific work they are undertaking.

Make sure each contractor understands what you want. Ask questions about materials, layout and the construction process.

Don’t let price lead your decision. Compare quotes and references. Going with the cheapest isn’t necessarily the best choice.

Make sure your personalities match and that you can envision working successfully together over the long haul. This is an important relationship for a successful remodel.

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