Home Remodeling Mistakes to Avoid

Avoid these errors for a sucessful project

These five common remodeling mistakes can end up trapping homeowners when working on renovation projects, according to renovation consultant Bruce Irving.

First, many homeowners don't live in their house long enough to understand the right way to change it, says Irving, former executive producer for the popular PBS television show This Old House. A homeowner needs to understand the way daylight moves through the house, which areas don't work for them and which are merely unfamiliar. Altering the home before knowing these types of things can often yield disappointing results.

Second, they don't hire an architect. The solid expertise a professional designer provides is critical to a successful home renovation of any scale. 

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Third--and and one of the most common mistakes--most homeowners underestimate by at least 25 percent how much time and money a project will consume. That adds a huge stress level to a project and, often, a sense of failure.

The fourth remodeling mistake is that homeowners don't ask enough questions--of themselves, the architect and their contractors. That's a big mistake because they get swept up in the renovation process and sometimes end up unhappy with products used or the final results. Homeowners need to remember it's their money. They should know how and why it's being spent.

The final and perhaps worst remodeling mistake is that many homeowners wait until the construction process has begun and then start changing their minds. They want a different design, a different product or to add something altogether new to the renovation. Changes are costly. The right time to explore and make changes is during the planning stage. After that, it's more than the architect's time involved--it's the entire job site and project.

Irving suggest the following tips to homeowners for avoiding remodeling mistakes and ensuring their home renovation projects go smoothly.

  • Listen to professionals, but judge their comments carefully or ask for second opinions. For example, hiring a renovation consultant means bringing in a person who has solid experience and who can give you an independent, unbiased perspective on the process while protecting you from bad ideas and shoddy workmanship. You also get an advocate whose only concern is matching up your goals with the final results.
  • Invest in synthetic materials. There are substantial savings in long-term maintenance and job site installation costs when selecting modern-day products over older wood or plaster products. Companies like Fypon make lightweight, durable products such as ceiling medallions, moldings, brackets, entryway trim and even balustrade systems. These synthetic products have the same look as older wood or plaster products, but they won't rot, decay, attract insects or warp. That's a huge advantage for any homeowner.
  • Choose your teammates wisely. Whether a designer, architect or general contractor, ask to contact their last three clients. Not just any clients, but their last three. These people will have experienced the person at his or her current level of achievement and staffing. This means you'll gain a more accurate view of what the professional can bring to your project. Once you find professionals you like, be willing to wait for them to become available to work on your project, and you'll avoid a host of remodeling mistakes and disappointments.