Renovating your home is a great way to give it a fresh look and feel without the expense and hassle of moving. However, it can be a complex and challenging process, especially if you don’t know what you’re doing. Home renovation mistakes can be costly, time-consuming, and frustrating, so it’s essential to avoid them.
Luckily, I’ve helped many clients through the renovation and new home build processes, and I’m laying out the most common renovation mistakes and how to avoid them in this post. By the time you’re finished reading, you’ll be armed with valuable information to make your home renovation go smoothly.
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1. Ignoring the Big Picture
One of the most common renovation mistakes people make is failing to consider the overall effect of their renovations. Don’t get so focused on individual projects – like updating the kitchen or adding a bathroom – that you forget how they’ll impact the rest of your home.
Make sure your renovation plans fit into the context of your whole house and complement its overall style and flow. For instance, adding a modern kitchen to a home with a traditional layout can create a jarring contrast that disrupts the flow and cohesiveness of the entire space.
Similarly, adding additional rooms or square footage to your home without considering the impact on its structural integrity can lead to issues such as electrical and plumbing problems further down the line. Avoid all this by keeping the big picture in mind from the very beginning.
2. Skimping on Planning
Proper planning is crucial before embarking on any renovation project. As a designer who plans down to the smallest detail, I highly suggest planning as much as possible before starting anything.
While it may be tempting to jump right into the fun aspects of selecting paint colors, tile, hardware or plumbing fixtures, taking the time to plan ahead will ultimately save you time, money, and frustration.
Before beginning your renovation, it is essential to reflect on what you want to accomplish. Make a list of your priorities, goals, and must-haves and consider how each component contributes to your overall vision. It's possible that you might have conflicting objectives, and it's best to solve them before starting!
3. Choosing the Wrong Contractor
Choosing the wrong contractor can be detrimental to your home renovation project. Research multiple contractors, get referrals, and ask for references. Ensure that the contractor you choose is licensed, insured, and has a good reputation. A good contractor will make sure your renovation is completed on time and within budget.
Once you have narrowed down your list of potential contractors, it is important to get detailed estimates from each one. These estimates should include a breakdown of the cost for materials, labor, and any other expenses associated with the project. A good contractor should be transparent about their pricing and provide clear explanations of any fees or charges.
Like with any other business relationship, communication is key when working with a contractor. A good contractor should be easy to reach and responsive to your questions and concerns. They should also be willing to provide updates on the progress of the project and keep you informed throughout the renovation process.
4. Going Overboard
It’s easy to get carried away with renovations, especially if you’ve been dreaming of making changes to your home for a long time. However, it’s important to be realistic about what you can achieve and how much you can afford.
Don’t overspend or overbuild, or you may end up with regret and financial strain. Be practical, and focus on what will make the most significant impact on your home’s value and your enjoyment. (Remember those goals from your planning stage!)
5. Being Too Trendy
While it’s tempting to follow the latest home design and decor trends, keep in mind that they may not last long. What’s popular today may be outdated in a year or two, leaving you with a home that looks dated or out of place.
Instead, go for classic, timeless styles that will withstand the test of time. Consider neutral colors, clean lines, and durable materials that will look as good in ten years as they do now.
If that sounds too bland, opt for pops of personality and color with things that can be easily swapped out in a few years like paint colors, furniture and artwork.
6. Letting Emotions Rule
Yes, renovating your home can be an emotional roller coaster at times–trust me, I’ve been there! But don’t let your emotions cloud your judgment. Avoid making snap decisions based on instant reactions, or investing in upgrades that you may not really need or want. It can become exhausting specifying literally hundreds of things, so break it up in smaller portions to avoid decision fatigue.
Consult with professionals, gather inspiration, and involve the whole family in the decision-making process. You don’t want to have regrets, so take your time, consider your options, and make informed, rational decisions that you’ll be happy with in the long run.
7. Neglecting Functionality
A home should not only look good, but it should also function well. Don’t sacrifice practicality for aesthetics, or you may end up with a pretty but impractical home. Make sure your renovations accommodate your daily needs, whether it’s storage, traffic flow, or lighting. Think about how you and your family use your home, and how you want it to feel.
For instance, if you're designing for a family of six who uses the kitchen frequently, the layout and finish selections will vary from a couple who mostly dine out.
Consider any challenges you've encountered while utilizing the space. Addressing these "pain points" will be a priority from the outset. By doing so, you will be able to ensure that once the renovation is completed, you will have a functional and efficient space tailored to your unique requirements.
8. Not Imagining Future Needs
When renovating your home, it's essential to not only focus on your current needs but also consider the future. This involves envisioning how your family might evolve over the years and whether your home will be able to accommodate those changes.
For example, if you're currently a family of four, but plan on having more children or fur babies, you'll need to ensure that your home can accommodate that growth. This means considering potential changes in bedroom and bathroom usage, storage needs, and overall space requirements.
It's also important to think about potential resale value enhancements when renovating your home. You may not be planning to sell your home anytime soon, but having a long-term vision for your renovation can help ensure that any updates or changes you make will ultimately increase the value of your property. Some types of renovations that tend to add value include kitchen and bathroom updates, creating an open floor plan, adding a new deck or patio, and improving energy efficiency.
9. Ignoring Your Home's Bones
Sometimes it’s the things you DON’T see that can have a huge impact. It's important to focus on the structural aspects of your renovation such as electrical, plumbing, and HVAC systems. These are the bones of your home and should be taken into consideration when planning your renovation.
If you’re working on an addition to your home, make sure your current HVAC systems can handle the extra space, otherwise factor in an additional furnace or air conditioner. (We have two of each in our 4,000 sf home with a separate thermostat upstairs so air gets properly heated and cooled.)
10. Skipping the Details
Yes, you’ve thought of the big picture, but now it’s time for the details. It's the small details that can make the biggest impact. I like to think of it in terms of what items do you look at or touch the most often.
What do you regularly look at when you’re in the space? Is there a way to make that view more spectacular? Think of sitting watching a tv above a fireplace. How dramatic and impressive is a full height stone wall fireplace with side shelves versus a simple painted wood surround.
What are you close to or touch regularly? Think of how a handle on a cabinet feels…is it heavy, too big, too small? Feel the difference between a polished granite countertop and a leather finish quartzite. What textures do you want to feel? Take the time to choose the right details, as they can set your renovation apart.
11. Neglecting Lighting
I see all too often that lighting often takes a back seat and renovation plans and that's a shadowy 😉 oversight you'll want to avoid. Neglecting lighting is like forgetting to add the final touch of mascara to your makeup routine - it can make all the difference.
Proper lighting not only enhances the functionality of a space, but it also sets the mood and highlights your design choices. Don't settle for generic can overhead lights. Consider layering your lighting with ambient, task, and accent lighting to create depth and warmth.
Invest in fixtures that compliment your design style and bring out the best in your space. Whether it's a cozy reading nook or a dazzling kitchen, lighting is the key to making your home shine. (Sorry, couldn’t resist one more pun!)
12. “Saving Money” on DIY Projects
Probably all great professionals started out as a DIYer. As a kid, instead of having Barbies and playing house, I wanted to build the house! Lol (I even had my own tool box with real tools!)
But if working on homes isn’t an innate desire for you, one of the greatest keys to successful renovation is seeking the help of skilled professionals.
While there may be a temptation to undertake tasks on your own, renovating can be tricky, and DIY attempts can lead to costly mistakes, especially if you lack experience or the proper training. So if you want to avoid the possibility of doing things twice, it's wise to engage a qualified contractor or tradesperson.
Not only does a professional's experience guarantee that your remodeling project will be a success, but it also saves you time and frustration. How much do you value your time and sanity? Seriously, ask yourself!
Experienced professionals have spent years honing their skills and developing efficient and productive techniques, and have the right tools to make it happen. Therefore, even if you’re not hiring an overseeing general contractor for your job, it's essential to invest in a team of specialists who will efficiently turn your home renovation ideas into a masterpiece.
Home renovation mistakes can be costly, frustrating, and regretful. However, with careful planning, research, and attention to details, you can avoid them. By keeping these twelve common pitfalls in mind, you’ll be prepared to make informed, practical decisions that will lead to a successful home renovation.
Don’t let your home upgrade turn into a nightmare, and enjoy the benefits of a beautiful, functional, and comfortable home that reflects your style and personality.
Looking for a well-designed and functional space that will elevate your home and your life? Schedule a complimentary Discovery Call to see how we could make your renovation or new home dreams come true.
Stay well and be inspired,
Hi, I'm Amy, and I help clients design their dream home. With streamlined interior design services that focus on personalized designs and project management, we'll take the stress out of building a new home or large renovation project. Let's create a home that is designed perfectly for you and make your dream home a reality.