Next to a home purchase, a major remodeling project is probably one of the largest financial investments you’ll make. You want to get it right so everything goes according to plan and is within your budget. Having worked with many clients over the years, we have a fundamental understanding of what makes a remodeling project successful. We also know what decisions can lead to disappointing and costly outcomes. Check out these five common mistakes homeowners make so you can avoid them as you plan your home remodeling or renovation project.
Neglecting the Exterior
Knocking down walls, re-orienting the floor plan, choosing flooring and tile—there’s so much to consider and decide. With all of these choices, it’s natural to want to save exterior improvements for another day. But we recommend including them as part of your remodeling project. Yes, it will add to your overall project cost, but these updates will save you time, money, and headaches down the road.
Cracked siding, crumbling stucco, chipped/peeling paint, or a roof past its prime can dampen the impact of all of your interior improvements. Addressing these types of repairs will add to your peace of mind, increase your satisfaction with your remodeling project, and can even increase your home’s air quality and energy efficiency. Plus, anything you do to the exterior will enhance curb appeal, which is important if you plan to sell in the next few years.
Not Hiring the Right Design Professional
This is the most important thing to get right in your remodeling project. Selecting the best professional for the job will bring your vision to life. Finding a firm and design-build team you can trust streamlines your decision-making and the construction life cycle.
While you may have your eye on a particular award-winning architect or design firm because of their reputation and prestige, they may not always be the best choice. You want a team that works with YOUR style and parameters, not the other way around.
When researching a professional, note their personality and the energy they bring to the meeting. Be sure they are actively listening to you as you share details about your lifestyle, preferences, and priorities. Think of the client-builder relationship as a termed friendship—you’ll want to choose someone who meshes or complements your personality and strengths. Conducting your due diligence now reduces the chance of change orders during the project that balloons the budget.
Expecting Everything to Go to Plan
A good rule of thumb in home remodeling is to expect the unexpected. Having a sense of humor is also helpful! Surprises are inevitable when remodeling, as you never know what you’ll find behind the walls when you begin demolition, especially if your home is more than 30 years old. Mold, rot, bad electrical wiring, and hazardous materials are a few of the more common features, but we’ve heard of homeowners (not our clients) finding bizarre things like a secret safe, ruins from an 18th-century ship, and a tombstone!
Changing regulations during the pandemic may also affect things like materials deliveries and subcontractor availability. An experienced construction manager will be able to anticipate most (but not all) of the hiccups and challenges that may come up during demolition and construction based on the age and condition of your home as well as current market constraints.
Trying to Be Your Own General Contractor or Project Manager
Some homeowners opt to become their own general contractor (GC) during their remodeling project. Please don’t. Unless you come from the construction industry or have a lot of past personal experience building and remodeling, this is a home improvement project best left to the pros. At first it may seem like you’re saving money, but going this route could end up costing you even more than hiring a project manager from the beginning of the project.
Take advantage of their experience
When bringing a GC or project manager to your remodeling project team, you’re hiring years of experience and expertise, someone who knows all the complexities and challenges of a construction project. A good one will be able to keep your project on track and mitigate any challenges or difficulties specific to your build. They will also bring relationships with vetted subcontractors that result in higher-quality installation. Plus, they assume responsibility for construction quality, workmanship, and your satisfaction with the final product.
Your time is money
Don’t forget to factor in your own time when assuming the project manager role. You will have to take time off from work and away from your family to manage all aspects of your home remodel. From hiring subcontractors and managing suppliers to permitting and scheduling, expect to have many full days, weekends, and some sleepless nights. Taking on the general contractor role also requires a commitment to the project from start to finish. If things come up at work or in your personal life that affect your ability to continue, the amount of money you’ll pay hiring a general contractor midway through the project will cost as much or more than what you had planned to save.
Going With the Lowest Bid
Receiving a low bid for your remodel can feel like a dream come true at first. No doubt a bid that comes in significantly under your budget can sound irresistible, but if the differential is more than 10 percent off your other bids, take a step back and evaluate. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. There’s a chance the low-bidding firm left out portions or details of your project, either unintentionally due to incompetence or intentionally to keep the appearance of costs down to get your business. A lower bid can also indicate the firm is trying to keep costs down by cutting corners, which is something you definitely don’t want.
This is where finding a professional you can trust comes into play. Someone with your best interests in mind will be as transparent as possible about pricing and your costs and will include all foreseen site and construction issues specific to your project.