The Top Remodeling Mistakes to Avoid

by Sam Ferris
Just about every industry has advantages and disadvantages. We could wax poetic about the advantages of flooring and remodeling, but as you probably suspect, that isn?t the purpose of this blog post.

The biggest disadvantage to remodeling is that many mistakes prove costly. It?s a frequent consequence when the average single-room remodel cost is well above $10,000. The average cost of a midrange kitchen remodel, to give you an idea, is $19,226. Yowzers.

And mistakes don?t just cost money ? they cost time and emotions, too. Since there?s much at stake when you?re remodeling, the game plan is clear: you have to avoid mistakes and plan for the unexpected.

Drawing from first-hand experience over the past 10 years, we sat down and discussed the top remodeling mistakes homeowners should avoid. Here they are, in all their glory (or is it shame?).

Not having a budget
Surprisingly, this isn?t a no-brainer. Too many homeowners fail to sit down and write out a clear-cut budget.

What happens without a budget? You spend more than what you?re financially capable of spending, which results in stress and regret. Write down every expense and add it up manually to avoid any surprises.

Setting a budget isn?t intimidating. In fact, the math is simple:

Set a number. Add 10 percent to the number. That?s your budget.

That extra 10 percent factors in unforeseen costs and last-minute decisions. Though it looks like an eye sore now, you?ll appreciate the addition when it?s all said and done.?

Not planning ahead
This is where it?s easy to get in trouble. We get it ? you?re busy. Between work, raising children, and having a modicum of a social life, everyone is. Extensive planning for your remodel is a must, though, so you need to set aside time to do it.

Here are a few things you should especially plan for:
  • A messy house. Once the dust settles, it?s there to stay until the project is finished. Certain rooms (like your kitchen) may not be functional for several weeks or up to a month. Find alternate housing arrangements, if necessary, and at the very least, alternatie cooking arrangements.
  • Flooring, countertops, and backsplashes. We see it all the time: customers stop by on the day of their contractor?s deadline to buy materials. This limits your options, and more often than not, you end up settling for what?s available in stock instead of what you truly want. Start designing as soon as possible.
  • The holidays. If you?re planning to remodel right before or during the holidays, think twice. You won?t be able to host any parties or house any extended family. Moreover, any material that is being shipped in will be late.
Start making these arrangements once the first hammer drops. The more you plan, the less you stress.?

Not expecting delays
Even the most experienced contractor can?t foresee every problem.

Tearing down a wall is a lot like a white elephant gift exchange: you don?t know what you?re going to get until you open it. That said, your contractor may find a plumbing or structural issue, for example, that sets the schedule back several days and up to a week.

When you?re planning for your remodel, add a week or two to your scheduled completion date. It?s a win-win: you?ll be prepared for delays or pleasantly surprised if the job is finished sooner.

Not choosing the right flooring for your home
With flooring, it?s much more than aesthetics. Certain types just aren?t a good fit for your living situation.

Homeowners with kids and pets shouldn?t install hardwood floors because they scratch easily, for instance. Or, homeowners with foundation problems should avoid installing hard surface flooring because it can end up cracking and breaking.

Read up on flooring before you buy it. Don?t just fall in love with what looks pretty ? fall in love with what looks pretty and what?s practical for your home.?

Not being available during your remodel
It isn?t the time to take a vacation when you?re remodeling.

Why? There?s a good chance your contractor will have questions for you; there?s an even better chance you?ll need to make critical decisions during the process. These decisions are best left for you ? not your contractor or your neighbor.

We?re not suggesting that you become a helicopter homeowner. In fact, don?t hover over your contractor ? it?s difficult for any person to work that way.

We are encouraging you to be involved and available for your contractor should any issues arise. This ensures that you?re happy with the final product.?

Not communicating with your contractor
Making yourself available is only one part of the process. You also have to actively communicate with your contractor.

It?s important not only to communicate about more mundane things like daily schedules, but also to voice concerns about the job. While it?s hard for some homeowners to tell their contractor that they?re not happy with how the remodel looks, it?s necessary.

Remember: you?re paying good money for your remodel. Speak up as soon as you can.

Paying your contractor in full before the job is finished
This rule of thumb applies less to established business entities (though it still applies) and more to independent contractors.

Contractors usually require a down payment before they begin working (they have to protect themselves, too). We require half of the total to be paid, for example, and the other half upon project completion.

Down payments are normal. Paying the full amount? Not so much. We?ve had clients stuck with a half-finished room because they paid their contractor in full and never heard from them again.

*Always check references for independent contractors. If you?re working with a business, see if they?re accredited with the Better Business Bureau.?
Painting after you remodel your floors
Paint first, new floors second. Say it until it?s instinctual.

Once you decide to rip your floors out, it won?t matter if you splatter paint on them or not. It will matter if you drop paint onto your new floors.

You should obviously take the proper precautions when you?re painting (taping crown molding, covering floors and furniture with plastic, etc.). But accidents still happen even with precautions.

Cutting corners
Define ?cutting corners,? you say. Here?s what cutting corners looks like:
  • Buying cheap material. We?re not talking about inexpensive material ? there?s a difference. We?re talking about poor quality flooring, mastic, and more. When they don?t last, you have to tap back into your bank account too soon.
  • Hiring under-qualified contractors. Labor charges add up, true. But don?t hire a contractor with a super low price tag if they can?t do the job correctly. You?ll hate the finished product and spend more money to correct it.
  • Not waterproofing your shower because it costs more. This is a task that often isn?t done right, but it can cause huge problems down the line if your shower has a leak.
  • Doing a task yourself when you clearly can?t do it. Some tasks are do-it-yourself (DIY) friendly. Vinyl floors, for instance, are tailor-made for DIY installations. Other tasks aren?t. Know the difference.?
Remodeling should be done the right way. If not, it can end up costing you more money than you would have spent otherwise, with frustration and a mental toll to boot.?

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