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3 Things to Avoid During Your Next Renovation

From excessive handyman work to underestimating budgets, here’s what NOT to do during your next home improvement project.

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Taking on a renovation can be an intimidating journey for many. With so much to organize, plan and remember, most people give up before starting. Often, this comes down to not knowing where to start.

Your first instinct may be to google “things to remember when renovating,” but we’re not ones to run with the crowd. Instead, we’ve come up with three things to AVOID during your next renovation.

Overestimating DIY Skills

We’d be lying if we said we’ve never dreamt about hosting our own HGTV show, but there’s a time and a place for do-it-yourself projects. Knowing when to put away the hammer is the key to success when starting a renovation.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to learn a new skill or trade. Having your hands involved in any project can result in an incredibly accomplished feeling. But sometimes things are more likely to go wrong if you’re not quite the expert, and that same accomplished feeling can turn into frustration, doubt and even embarrassment.

In the lyrics of Matthew Wilder “Ain’t nothin’ gonna break my stride - I got to keep on moving,” you shouldn’t beat yourself up over those moments of failure. Our recommendation is to trial run your DIY skills with smaller, less elaborate spaces like an office or bedroom. Save the big renos like kitchens and anything that involves a structural change for the pros. Their expertise matters in these cases, and we promise you’ll thank us later.

Construction Site Building

Changing Plans Halfway Through

Decision paralysis is a real thing. Being faced with too many options can eventually lead to an inability to make a decision. Weighing all of your design pros and cons at the start of your project is the best way to make a solid decision. Once that decision is made, remember not to stray from it.

Let’s paint a picture for educational purposes:

After finalizing her kitchen layout with her designer, Susan spends her weekend off running errands, dropping the kids off at soccer practice, and perusing her favorite local furniture shop. There she sees a stunning modern dining set that she falls in love with. With her impulse taking over, she waves her credit card at the sales clerk and shouts “I’ll take it!”

The weekend flies by, and the first thing Monday morning she hops on the phone with her designer, describing this new stunning modern dining set that just had to come home with her.

…Well Susan, that dining set isn’t going to match your traditional style kitchen. Which means you’re going to have to switch your cabinetry color from that beautiful sage green to a stark white. You’ll also have to choose a new countertop with a cool undertone. And all of these modern switches aren’t going to match the champagne finish hardware you picked out.

Oh, and did we mention that all of these products are already on the delivery truck?

That leaves Susan with potential return shipping costs, restock fees, and even the possibility of being stuck with these items for good.

P.S. The modern dining set was also a final sale.

Get the picture?

Hopefully by now you can understand why bringing your “new idea” to the table after everything has been finalized might be a bad idea.

On the other hand, if you have endless money and time to spend, then make all the changes you want. But it’s probably safe to assume that most people don’t have a strong desire to waste their time and money.

It’s best practice to make all of your decisions - even the little ones - early on in your project. We promise it’ll save you time, money, and ultimately a big fat headache like Susan probably has right now.

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Underestimating Costs and Timeline

"She works hard for the money." Continuing with our 'hits from 1983' theme, Donna Summer sang it right. Putting your well-earned money towards a renovation can be a big commitment, and being afraid to part with a large amount is completely understandable.

While we always recommend setting a clear and realistic budget, it's important to do just that. Be clear and realistic.

Underestimating renovation costs, or worse, skimping out on quality materials to save a few dollars can actually cost you more in the long run. You might see the appeal in that "quartz look-alike laminate" that costs a third of the real thing. Or maybe your handyman neighbor offers to install your flooring at no charge, and you take him up on the offer.

These seem like the most budget-friendly choices but fast-track a year, and now your flooring is cracked and wobbly, and your laminate countertops are all chipped up by your high-energy kids.

Circling back to our first two points, leaving the right tasks to the pros and staying firm on your design plans can really help keep your budget in check. The three work in conjunction and are key components to a successful renovation.

Just like you shouldn’t be underestimating renovation costs, you also shouldn’t be embarking on your trip to Europe in the middle of demolition.

Material delays happen, contractors suddenly become unavailable, and timelines change. Stay generous with your estimated completion date and avoid planning big life events like weddings and vacations around it. A good rule of thumb is 3-6 months from start to finish (give or take depending on the size of the project).

In short, instead of underestimating project costs and timeline, do the exact opposite. Overestimate. Set a 10-20% contingency fund in addition to your project budget. Instead of planning on an estimated completion within 6 months, make it 8 or 10.

Just like you can’t hurry love, you shouldn’t expect miracles with your renovation either.

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Setting realistic expectations will help eliminate disappointment. It's a good idea to head into your renovation with an open mind, remove the rose-colored glasses, and remember not to cut corners. No one wants to be in a constant state of change, covered in sawdust, and inhaling paint fumes for longer than they should be. If you're making the commitment to a reno, you'll want to do it right the first time.

Take our advice; or don't. That's totally fine too.

But don't come running back later saying "you were right, I should've listened..."


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