Remodeling can be a big source of anxiety and uncertainty for homeowners, especially if it’s their first time. In the past, some contractors haven’t done the best job easing these worries. Shady business practices have left many homeowners with their hands in the air, wondering why their remodel took twice as long and cost twice as much as they expected.
Here are a few common remodeling mistakes you should avoid to ensure a successful remodeling experience.
Most homeowners hesitate to reveal their remodeling budget until after receiving an estimate. In some cases, they hesitate to reveal their budget at all. There’s a fear that if you tell your contractor how much you are willing to spend, they’ll give you an estimate at that number even if they can do it for less. As a result, homeowners routinely receive estimates that are 50-100% more than expected. Why is this the case?
One of the biggest reasons is unrealistic expectations set by shows like HGTV. We all love HGTV and it’s a great source for inspiration, but they often provide unrealistic or misleading “real homeowner” budgets. That $50,000 renovation with everything the family wanted is more likely than not $75,000-$100,00 in the real world. HGTV and other bad sources of information online lead homeowners to think that their remodel will cost much less than it will.
To avoid this situation, we recommend being transparent about your budget from the beginning and working with your contractor to get the most remodel out of that budget. If your contractor knows your budget, they can advise you on the best areas to cut costs, the best areas to splurge, and other necessary trade-offs. If you’re only talking about what you “want” and withholding how much you want to spend, the contractor is simply doing what you’ve asked when they present an estimate higher than you expected.
If you’re making subtle changes to your kitchen or bathroom, spending weeks or months planning might be unnecessary. But if you’re planning a complete overhaul or other sweeping changes, don’t neglect the necessity of a solidified plan. This responsibility falls on your contractors' shoulders as much as yours; an honest contractor will take the time to understand your goals, budget, and expectations before beginning construction.
Remodeling projects go off the rails when you neglect the planning process and rush into construction. Too often, homeowners find themselves in the uncomfortable and frustrating position of changing direction multiple times in the middle of construction. When you change direction, you delay the completion date and drive up the total cost of your project. To prevent this, work with your contractor on a detailed plan that you feel confident in.
This is related to the previous mistake, yet slightly different. One of the main reasons homeowners don’t spend enough time planning is because they start the planning process later than they should have. If you want to have a space remodeled by a certain date, reach out to your contractor as soon as possible. The earlier you begin planning, the smoother your remodeling process will be.
Even if your goal is to have your kitchen remodeled by the summer of 2022, you should start planning and working with your contractor in the fall/winter months of 2021. You’ll be able to move slowly and methodically through the preconstruction process, ensuring you’re fully confident before construction begins. By taking this approach you also ensure you get to work with a contractor you’re excited about, not just the one who’s available.
The traditional remodeling process, design-bid-build, encourages homeowners to choose contractors based on price. During this process, homeowners send their plans or ideas to multiple contractors and typically choose the contractor who gives them the lowest bid/estimate. As discussed in previous blog posts, this approach can be problematic. To learn more about why this approach is problematic, read our blog post “How to Find the Right Remodeling Contractor.”
Instead of choosing your contractor based on price, look for qualities such as quality of craftsmanship, attention to detail, communication skills/style, the happiness of previous customers, and experience. Remodeling your home is one of the biggest investments you’ll ever make and you’ll be (literally) living with the result every day. Choose a contractor you can trust, even if they cost a little bit more.
“How much will this remodel raise my home value?” We get questions like this a lot from homeowners during the planning stages. While it’s smart to consider financial ROI, don’t forget about the emotional and day-to-day benefits of a newly remodeled space.
For example, nearly a third of homeowners reported having a healthier lifestyle after renovating their kitchens, according to a study conducted by Houzz. In the same study, about half of respondents said socializing and entertaining were the top activities happening in the kitchen following their remodel. Making changes to the hub of your home can bring friends and family together, encourage a healthier lifestyle, and much more.
There’s one big exception to this mistake: if your plan is to sell your house soon, then remodeling to maximize financial ROI makes the most sense. Our advice is geared towards families remodeling a home they plan to stay in for many years.
Avoiding these five mistakes will greatly improve your remodeling experience and overall satisfaction. We hope this post gives you more confidence to tackle your remodeling dreams; just make sure you plan ahead.