How to Avoid Remodeling Headaches and Mistakes

By Ellen Gefen

It starts out innocent enough. You decide that your master bath is looking a little outdated and determine that you want to give it a makeover. That’s where it can all go downhill. Between contractors who don’t show up (or do shoddy work), to not getting the right materials, there are many ways that a home renovation project can become problematic. That’s why you need to know ahead of time the ways to avoid home remodeling headaches and mistakes that could cost you financially–and emotionally.

Case in point: Some of my neighbors installed a new type of insulation a few years ago. Their contractor assured them that he knew what he was doing. Unfortunately, he didn’t. He installed the insulation improperly, and the house developed a serious black mold problem. Many thousands of dollars later, my neighbors have finally gotten their home fixed, but the mother and child continue to have health problems directly related to mold exposure.

If you’re planning to do any home improvement project that requires outside help, these suggestions might help you avoid taking Tylenol and enjoy the experience instead.

Do Some Research

It’s incredibly important to do your homework when you’re selecting contractors for a building or remodeling project. If you want to install a specialty product, it is probably worth the extra money to hire a specialist to do it. I don’t think for a minute that the contractor was intentionally trying to hurt my neighbors – I just think he wanted their business and got in over his head. Look for online reviews and recommendations for contractors before hiring anyone to ensure that your project will go smoothly.

Know Your Limitations

You probably watch a lot of HGTV, so installing that floor tile shouldn’t be too tricky. Right? Well, think again. In many cases, it’s imperative to know what you don’t know. Just because you can probably do something yourself doesn’t mean that you should. When I was re-doing a bathroom, I measured my own shower and ordered my own tile. When the contractor was installing the tile, he discovered that I hadn’t ordered enough, which was totally my fault. I could have saved myself time and money by having the tile person measure for me and then install it. Lesson learned.

Hire an Expert

Depending on the scope of your project, it might be a good idea to hire an interior designer or project manager. The money you spend getting assistance will pay for itself. You won’t have as many unforeseen delays, mistakes, and hassles. And you’ll be able to concentrate on doing what you do best, which is a much better use of your time, anyway.

Take Notes

Keep a notebook filled with all the details associated with your project: design ideas, product warranties, architectural drawings, magazine clippings, receipts, and so on. This will not only help you keep track of the remodel as it’s happening, but you just might learn some necessary tips for future projects. Plus, the notebook will help you find the right color of touch-up paint when Junior uses the walls as his painting canvas.

Budget It Out

There’s nothing worse than going over budget on a project. So, before you begin, gather all your facts and figures (along with those paint chips and swatches), and determine how much your home reno project is really going to cost. You might want to add an extra 5-10% on top of your total to ensure that you have money to cover unforeseen expenses.

You’ll often hear horror stories of reno projects gone wrong. By planning ahead, you can ensure that your home remodeling project goes off without a hitch!