Don’t underestimate the magnitude of taking on a home improvement project, even if you’re eager to get started. Mistakes are common and costly, and if you don’t plan properly, you’ll soon find yourself overwhelmed.
By understanding some of the most common pitfalls and how to avoid them, you can set yourself up for a successful project. Here are seven of the most common mistakes and how to avoid them.
1. Not being prepared
Have all your fixtures and fittings chosen and agreed upon before your builder starts on the job site. I feel like I’ve written a lot about this one, but it’s worth repeating, especially in today’s climate with ever-changing prices and supply. Fixtures and fittings are items such as tiles, flooring, sanitaryware, kitchen, windows, etc. By choosing these items early in the process, you’ll know what everything costs and have everything ready when the builder needs it, eliminating the hassle of making on-the-spot decisions.
2. Make hasty decisions and purchases
Whether it’s a modest kitchen remodel or a complete home remodel and expansion, there are steps you can take to ensure everything goes according to plan. It might be tempting to rush out and start shopping for tiles because they’re on sale. However, you should wait until your layouts are finalized and you are completely sure of what you are doing before buying anything. If you’re rushing to buy something, you might find yourself trying to work your design around something you wish you hadn’t spent the money on.
3. Not thinking about the future
It’s very easy to fall into the trap of designing a home around your immediate needs, especially when it comes to young children. Lots of open space might seem like a good idea when your kids are toddlers. But your needs will change as your children get older, so it’s essential that you try to look to the future and design some flexibility into your home. The layout should also work well when those little toddlers grow into teenagers who might want a private space.
4. Not asking for unbiased advice
When renovating, try to put sentimentality aside. Just because something has always been there doesn’t necessarily make it a good reason to keep it. Likewise, designing around how you currently use your home will not lead to a layout that works well.
Look at what you are trying to accomplish and plan the best way to get there. Hiring a professional to help you may be a good idea. They will have an unbiased view of your home and can advise you on the best way to achieve the results you are looking for.
5. Not matching your wish list with your budget
Be sure to set a realistic budget and be prepared to compromise if necessary. It’s easy to get carried away and try to fit everything on your wish list, but you could find yourself going over budget very quickly. Always keep the budget in mind when making decisions.
Prepare a budget before starting work and set aside sufficient contingency funds to cover unforeseen expenses; for example, discovering moisture or structural problems. Be open about your budget with your architect, designer or contractor.
They will help you modify the scope of work according to the amount you need to spend. An experienced team will be able to help you compromise so that you get maximum value and return for your budget. Being budget conscious is much better than running out of money halfway through a project. In my experience, no matter how much customers need to spend, trade-offs always have to be made.
6. Choosing the wrong contractor
You should never choose a contractor based on price alone or hire the first contractor you come across. In fact, you should be wary of the lowest bid. Before making a decision, you should always get at least two quotes and spend some time analyzing and comparing them. In order to ensure that you are comparing like with like, make sure each contractor has a clear specification and scope of work. Finally, be sure to check all references and, if possible, speak with previous clients or try to see their work in person.
7. Overspending on the wrong things
The best areas to invest in are those that make the biggest difference to your quality of life and the enjoyment of your home. If it’s cold in your house, you shouldn’t spend a lot of money on expensive finishes and reducing insulation, for example. A good rule of thumb is to invest now in anything that will be expensive to replace later, then cut back on superficial items that can be replaced or added later.
Denise O’Connor is an architect and design consultant @optimisedesign