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The 5 Pitfalls of Home Renovation

Steer Clear of These Mistakes and You're Already Halfway There


One of the best pieces of advice I've heard is to avoid dwelling on the bad things that might happen in life--and to concentrate on developing the positive things. Very good advice. So we won't dwell on the bad things that can happen in home renovation so much as quickly absorb it so we can move onto the good stuff. Ready?

1. Ignoring Safety

Of course you don't want to hear this. It's like being ten years old and having your mother tell you to wear your helmet when riding your bike. But look at it from a practical standpoint: if you get seriously hurt, that sets back your renovation timetable. Lead-based paint and asbestos can ruin anybody's day. Not to mention slicing off a finger in your table saw, puncturing a foot clear through with a nail, shocking yourself, falling off a ladder while demolishing an outbuilding with a chain saw. Can't happen to you? Two out of four of those things have happened to me, and I'm not saying which.

2. Not Planning Your Home Renovation

There are millions of free resources out there to help you plan your home renovation. Shame on you if you don't take advantage of them. Free web-based videos provide a graphic representation of what you'll be getting into. Or you may need to step back, look at the big picture, and figure out simply how to renovate a house.

3. Not Leveraging a Home Renovation Project for All its Worth

The classic example of this is when you're installing new drywall. With the walls open--why not take advantage of this? You can update your electrical wiring in your kitchen or you can install insulation.

4. Not Getting Those Fabled Three Estimates

You hear it everywhere: get three estimates. Why three? Not even a stool can rest on two legs (or one, for that matter). A stool needs at least three legs to stand on, and so does your home renovation project. Unless you plan on acting as your own contractor, you will need to deal with a licensed contractor for the bigger projects such as house additions and major room remodels. You will need to talk to at least three contractors. If you're subbing the job out yourself, you'll still need to talk to at least three subcontractors. You will be amazed at how wildly estimates can vary: one estimate can easily be twice or three times the amount of another estimate.

5. Doing it Yourself Too Much

The DIY approach saves money. That's clear. But there are certain DIY projects that can break a person. Replacing your own windows theoretically is possible, but there is a reason most people hire pros to do this. And, at a distance, you think: what could be easier than installing drywall? It's just drywall, screws, tape, and mud. Next thing you know it's seven weeks later and your house is constantly covered in a fine layer of drywall dust--with no end in sight. There is no shame in handing a project over to the pros.
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