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6 Remodeling Mistakes to Avoid

6 Remodeling Mistakes to Avoid

Anyone who’s ever done a home remodel knows that renovation is NOT as easy as HGTV shows make it look.

For starters, the budgets on those shows are ridiculous

Beyond that, there are common mistakes that we “regular folk” run into in remodels time and time again. These are the mistakes that are pretty understandable for someone who’s either remodeling for the first time or doesn’t have an HGTV budget!

Frankly, no one ever taught us how to avoid these mistakes, either…think the public schools could do with some basic education on homeownership?! I sure think so!!

Most of these mistakes, after all, are avoidable.

If you partner with the right design-build contractor, these mistakes will be easy to avoid…BUT you need to be educated, yourself, so you can recognize the “right” contractor when you meet them.

Be honest…have you ever committed any of these mistakes before?

Here are the top six mistakes we see in home remodels…and these should be avoided at ALL costs, or you’ll really pay in a bigger investment, in more time, and in the stress it all creates…


6 Renovation Mistakes to Avoid at All Costs

Here we go…

Mistake 1: Not having a plan

You need to start your remodel with a detailed plan.

This is something your contractor will put together for you. No plan from your contractor? Don’t hire that company.

A detailed remodel plan will state how much time is needed for each step, as well as the order…it will also include details on what steps will take what portion of the budget.

Your remodel plan will also need to hash out where to store your belongings during construction, when each subcontractor will be on-site, when you’ll get updates from your project manager, when specific items or materials will be delivered, and more.

Not only does this keep you organized AND set everyone’s expectations, it also becomes a schedule that is SUPER satisfying to check off as you pass those key milestones…

IMPORTANT: Speaking of expectations, your remodel schedule is the BEST resource you’ll have to protect you from unrealistic expectations. Everyone will find themselves with unrealistic expectations about their remodel at some point, it’s just the natural result of excitement. Plus…you don’t know what you don’t know!!

ALSO IMPORTANT: Plan for your long-term needs when your project is in design, too! Think about how your home needs will fit your lifestyle needs in five years…in a decade…and even later. This will help you make better decisions, not just casual or “trendy” ones.

This is such a big mistake made SO often that it’s mentioned in an interview with Robin about home renovation mistakes, too…


Mistake 2: Not making sure everything’s in stock

The year 2020 saw a colossal 58% boom in project leads on the remodeling website Houzz.com…that means 58% more homeowners were reaching out to the member remodelers there.

By the end of that year, more than THREE QUARTERS of homeowners said they had made “some kind of improvement to their home in 2020,” including many MAJOR remodels.

Here’s the thing…with more people spending time at home during the pandemic, homeowners really focused in on what they wanted to improve in their living spaces. And this is GREAT, but it did also come at a time when the logistics industry is already under unprecedented strain due to the coronavirus.

This means that for any remodel today, you need to make sure you know what’s in stock, what’s not, and when things can be manufactured or delivered.

Are you totally enamored with having someone redo your custom cabinetry, for example? Great!! Just be aware that lead times for cabinet making are WEEKS longer than they were in 2019…it’s the same for all other selections, too.

Keep reading to learn what you need to know about the remodeling industry right now…


Mistake 3: Using cheap materials instead of quality ones

As you choose materials and product selections for your remodel, do NOT automatically opt for the cheapest option.

Sure, there will be times where you can take the more “economical” route. If you already partnered with the right design-build contractor, that company will educate you on where you can make those cuts…

Otherwise, a good rule of thumb is to be prepared to spend money on two things:

  1. Any materials or selections that will get touched or used every day
  2. Any materials or selections that you, personally, will really enjoy

By honoring both of these key factors, you’ll ensure the maximum longevity of your remodel…both in how the materials hold up, and how long you love it!

IMPORTANT: Don’t skimp on sustainability, either! If there are two similar materials that you’re torn between, choose the one with less required maintenance, or that performs better to control temperatures in the home. This will decrease your footprint and save you money in everything from cleaning supplies to your heating bill!


Mistake 4: Not researching if you need inspections, permits, etc.…

There is a LONG list of “et cetera” here!

You’ll need to know whether your project requires permits, additional inspections, special contractors, or other legal hurdles.

Once again, your remodeler should handle all of this for you. That seems obvious…but we’ve been SHOCKED how often a remodeler leaves this all to the homeowner.

Just look at this article where we tell the story of Rob going to the permit office…you’ll be surprised what other contractors turned in!!

When it comes to liabilities with permits and the rest, be prepared to ask questions. It’s within your right—really, your responsibility as a homeowner—to ask questions throughout your project, especially before it gets started.

IMPORANT: Another “requirement” when shopping for your remodeler should be to choose a contractor with a warranty. A remodel is a huge investment…and that should be true for you AND your contractor. Your remodeler should guarantee their work and regularly follow up with you for a minimum of three to five years after your project. Otherwise, how confident do you think that contractor really is in their work?!


Mistake 5: Not having a contingency in time

You’ve all heard about needing a contingency…and this applies to remodels in TWO crucial ways.

Number one, you need a contingency in time.

Yes, you need a plan. You also need a planned degree of flexibility on that plan. Start by adopting this mindset: no matter how well you plan, there are going to be at least one or two hang-ups during construction.

This is normal!

Imagine the plumbing is messed up in your kitchen because someone “doctored” a fix five years before you bought the house, but it worked fine so you never knew your home was in danger…

How would you or your contractor know that, either until they break into the wall, themselves?!

When you’re working with a trusted design-build contractor, these unpleasant discoveries will only act as minor roadblocks that can be easily navigated. Just plan on at least one or two of these coming up!!


Mistake 6: Not having a contingency in budget

Likewise, you’ll need a contingency in your budget. This is easily the biggest mistake we see time and time again.

DIY renovations are the worst when it comes to this, because the most common motivation to DIY is to save money. As a result, homeowners get excited by how much “less” they can do a renovation for, and they forget the contingency altogether.

Whether you remodel your home yourself or work with a contractor, a budget contingency must ALWAYS allow for as much as 15% of the project cost on top of the original budget.

Yes, think about your target budget and stick to it. Once you’ve talked to your contractor and determined what’s practical, that can absolutely be the budget you aim for.

Don’t get started on your project, though, until you have that contingency ready to inject in if you need to…otherwise, you could be stuck with an unfinished remodel when those unexpected roadblocks come up!


Mistake 7: Bonus! Not considering personality when choosing a remodeler

If you aren’t sure what your remodeling personality is, take our super quick quiz now to find out! Then keep reading…

Frankly, you should click with your contractor.

This does NOT seem like a high expectation when you think about it…if you’re spending tens of thousands of dollars (and usually more) on a remodel, you should be working with someone you like.

Even great online reviews mean nothing if your contractor doesn’t “get” you.

As you interview design-build contractors, ask yourself:

  • Do I feel a connection?
  • Does this remodeler or interior designer share my vision for look AND feel?
  • Is this company listening to my every want, hope and need?

Personalities have to fit both ways, too. If you want to engineer every detail of your project, you probably won’t work well with a company built to guide you through their own tried-and-true process.

Join us on Facebook and TELL US what your remodeling personality is!!


Remodeling any space in your home is a project that improves its aesthetic appeal AND its functionality. Some remodels are total game-changers.

The process can be exciting, but any one of these mistakes can throw a HUGE wrench into your experience…

Now, you can focus on avoiding these mistakes on your next project. Get in touch with us to tell us when that will be!

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