One of the very best things about owning your own home is that you can change it to fit yourself and your lifestyle. Home renovations are more popular than ever before, and there are countless shows, blogs, magazines, and other resources where you can indulge your dreams of a perfect home – if you’re willing to jump into renovating.
But a home renovation project isn’t a journey for the faint of heart. It’s expensive and time-consuming, and there’s a lot that can go wrong before the finished product is, well, finished. To ensure that your home renovation process goes as smoothly as possible, make sure you don’t make any of the following home renovation mistakes.
1. Forgetting about permits
This might not be something you realize you forgot about until it’s time to sell the house — which is basically the worst possible time to discover that your house needs a permit for something and doesn’t have one. So when you’re sure of what form and shape you want your home renovation to take, do yourself a favor and head to the permitting department at your city or county office and ask them what you’ll need.
In general, you probably don’t need a permit to do things like paint walls, replace cabinetry, repaving your driveway or other minor updates. But if you’re going to be changing a room’s purpose or knocking down a wall, then you definitely want to check on the permits that should be filed to make a change like that.
2. Creating an unrealistic budget
After watching a few different tanned and glossy couples complete a specific renovation for a certain amount of money, you might feel perfectly comfortable deciding that you can designate that certain amount of money for that specific renovation, too. But like your timeline, your budget needs a little bit of room to stretch. Between material upgrades, hiring extra labor, emergencies or any other budget-breakers, at some point during the renovation, you’ll be glad you built in some budgetary breathing room.
3. Buying the cheapest materials
It’s really tempting to try to discount your way through a home renovation. And one of the easiest ways to do that is by choosing the cheapest materials — but resist!
The adage “you get what you pay for” is as true for home renovation materials as anywhere else, and if you’re buying flooring, windows or doors that you’ll have to replace in five years instead of twenty, then you’re not actually saving yourself any money because you’re going to have to do this all again sooner rather than later.
Talk to your contractor (or contractors) about the options open to you, and make sure you understand what sacrifices you might be making in quality or longevity for price.
4. Skipping prep work
If you’ve ever painted a room, then you already understand how critical prep work can be. It’s a lot easier to thoroughly tape off the area you’re going to paint, right? Well, that truism holds for home renovation in general, so make sure you’re doing yourself favors by smoothing the road for yourself.
Cover furniture with drop cloths, for example, or make sure that you’ve got a food prep area set up outside the kitchen that you can use while it’s having work done.
The small steps you take to protect your belongings and make necessities more accessible will be well worth the time they take in the long run.
5. Taking inaccurate measurements
If there’s one home renovation mistake that you should try to avoid at all costs, no matter what, this is it. “Measure twice, cut once,” is sound advice, but when it comes to your money and your house, what’s the harm in measuring ten times before you cut?
Imagine realizing that your new cabinets don’t leave enough room for your fridge, for example, or that you didn’t order enough flooring, or that the bookshelves you’re installing are too tall for the office. All of those catastrophes can be avoided if you measure carefully and accurately, so whatever you do, don’t breeze through this step.
6. Failing to anticipate a mess
A home renovation is usually a big, messy project. There’s likely to be dust everywhere at the very least, and some of your rooms might not be usable while the renovation is taking place. That’s not always a big deal in the case of a closet or bedroom, but when you’re redoing a bathroom or kitchen, then renovating a house where you currently live can get quite a bit trickier.
Be prepared for a big mess, and think especially hard about how it will affect you if you’re living in the house while it’s being renovated. Use plastic sheeting and drop cloths to keep as much of the mess as you can at bay, and realize that any clothes you’re wearing into the construction zone might need a lot of wash cycles before they return to normal, so dress accordingly.