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The Worst Advice We've Ever Heard About Home Remodeling

Thursday, August 6th, 2015 by Chris Mott


Remodeling your home can be a time consuming and costly process. If you are planning a home renovation, then odds are you’re doing some research to make sure that everything goes according to plan and to limit any potential disasters from occuring. Voices are shouting advice at you from a variety of places, however the last thing you should to do is heed bad advice, since this could lead to costly home remodeling regrets and mistakes. The following list represents some of the worst advice we've ever heard about home remodeling:

Don’t worry about permits.

This couldn't be further from the truth. Permits are required in order to keep your home up to code! Building codes are put into place in order to protect against structural damage, collapse and deterioration, as well as to ensure proper zoning. Contractors that are not reputable may try to convince you that interior renovations don’t require permits because "nobody will ever find out." Extremely dubious contractors may even ask you to apply for a homeowner’s permit, which is for homeowners that are involved in DIY (do-it-yourself) renovation work. This means that the work that is done will fall under your responsibility when a building inspector comes to check up on your renovations - if they are not up to code you will be held responsible, not the contractor that did the work. Even if you get away with it, you'll be risking the safety of everyone inside your home and may end up paying more money on repairing structural issues. Not obtaining a permit can also result in the city requiring the removal of the addition you built, which as you can imagine is quite costly. If your contractor suggests skipping the permits or getting a homeowner’s permit, there is a good chance that contractor isn’t properly licensed - so make permits a priority!
 

There's no need to plan out every detail.

Wrong again. You should absolutely plan everything out before you begin the remodel. If you all of a sudden decide that you want the shower to be on the other side of the bathroom, even though your contractor has already begun installation, it's going to cost you a lot of money - not just in the additional labor and potential materials required, but also in the setback to your remodeling schedule. What was a 3-day remodel may now be a 4-day remodel if not more. We know that you’re probably pretty anxious to get your home remodel started - but make sure it’s planned out to the last detail before you do. Because of this, the planning stage of your remodel is the most important pieces of your project. In addition to carefully setting your budget, you should figure out all the exact specifics of your renovation. This includes choosing all of your colors and materials way ahead of time. Leaving the decision until the last moment or deciding to go with a different material in the middle of your remodel is going to cause huge problems since you are going to have to conduct additional supply orders. 
 

Don’t worry about lighting.

Come on, step into the light! Many homeowners will put all of their attention on the more exciting elements of their remodel, such as the flooring, cabinets, countertops, or appliances. But adequate lighting in the room is essential to both the function and form of the space. Poor lighting not only diminishes your use of the space, it diminishes your comfort as well. Don’t overlook how important the lighting is. Every room should have accent lighting and task lighting in addition to the general, ambient lighting.
 

Make sure to implement current trends.

Remember all the lovely remnants of the 1970's still lying around so many homes today? Many homeowners make the mistake of thinking that the most current home remodeling trends are just the right renovations to give their project the most return on investment. However, trends are ever revolving and often replaced. Implementing current trends will reduce your buyer demographic immediately and can go out of style over time. For example, you may have noticed that home offices are a popular addition. The thing is not everyone is looking for such space when buying a home, which means you are diminishing your buyer demographic if you ever sell; not to mention that the average home office renovation will set you back around $23,000 with an ROI of only 46 percent.
 

Just budget for the cost of the project.

Sitting down and creating a budget for your remodel is one of the very first things you should do! It helps you determine what kind of renovations you can afford to make as well as what kind of materials you can afford to use. However, your budget shouldn’t just take into account your remodel. It should also take into account any unforeseen problems that might occur. For example, what if you are doing a bathroom remodel and the contractor finds an issue with your plumbing that requires you to replace your entire plumbing system? This can be quite costly and can put you way over your budget. 
 

Save money by buying cheaper materials.

You could cut corners in order to save a little bit of money, but it’s definitely not worth it in the long run. You may be tempted to build your kitchen cabinets using suspect quality plywood so that you can afford that crystal chandelier over your kitchen island, but you’re going to regret it when your cabinets start falling apart (or when that beautiful chandelier lights up your cabinets, and its visual flaws). Be smart about purchasing your materials. It’s okay to use tile for your backsplash instead of marble in order to save a little bit of money, but don’t try to save money by buying really cheap materials that will negatively affect the look and function of your renovation. Renovations made with cheap materials often require repair, which means that you could have saved yourself some money by going with the better quality option in the first place.
 

Not everything has to be written in your contract.

Wrong. Every single thing that you discuss should be written up in the contract, if you're not doing the renovations yourself. This includes the start and end dates, the hours during which the renovation will take place, the cost of labor, the cost of materials, the specifics of the renovation and more. Even the smallest details should be in the contract. If you don’t have everything in writing, then you have very little legal options that you can take in order to settle any dispute that might come up.
 

Pay your contractor up front.

Never pay your contractor more than 10 percent up front. If your contractor asks for more than that - say 30 or 50 percent - a red flag should be raised immediately. There's a good chance you'll never see your contractor again after you've handed over money for work that hasn't been done yet. Another scenario may mean the contractor will do an incredibly poor quality job on your renovation knowing that you’re not going to them after you’ve already invested so much.

These are a few renovation tips that will result in huge home remodeling mistakes. To avoid making costly home remodeling mistakes, make sure you do your research and cover all possible bases from the onset of your next project.

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