From ignoring prep work and safety to setting unrealistic budgets, find out how to avoid these mistakes and more when renovating.
“Do it the right way, right away,” says Carey. “You shouldn’t avoid your prep work. You want to take the time to do it right and right from the beginning.”
Contractor Jim Collins says, “It’s a horrible, tedious process, and nobody likes it, but it saves so much time later on down the way. And that’s what you’re trying to do: save yourself money and time.”
“Make sure you have a well-set plan before you start your renovations, because you don’t want to go in there and just clear everything out, when you might be able to work around some areas,” warns Carey Evans of Don’t Sweat It.
“I see this time and time again where people just start, and they think they’re going to pull a piece of wallpaper off, and by the time the process is over, they’ve completely gotten themselves into a deep, dark hole that’s very difficult to get out of,” adds Eric Stromer of Over Your Head.
“There are really three problems with using the wrong tool: You can wreck the tool, you can wreck the project you’re working on and you can wreck yourself,” notes Spike Carelsen, former executive editor of Family Handyman.
“If you need a small bathroom, pick the right fixtures,” says Jimmy. “You can buy low-profile toilets and narrower sinks. Don’t try to put full-size fixtures in a tiny, tiny bathroom. It’s just going to be crowded.”
“I’m a real believer in using bold colors and bold prints, because boldness in small spaces actually makes it feel better,” Nancy adds.
Hammer Heads carpenter Carmen De La Paz says, “Another mistake that homeowners will often make is not taking into consideration the lighting in their home. The lighting in your home can completely change the colors, the feeling, the ambiance.”
Designed to Sell’s Lisa LaPorta adds, “There are really three main types of lighting: general lighting, task lighting and drama or accent lighting. You need a combination to have a really good end design.”
“People often make the mistake of wanting to be too hip and trendy in their new home by picking the latest, hottest, coolest things,” says Carmen. “What they don’t take into consideration is that trendy means that it’s short term.”
“You want something that’s going to stand the test of time, and you want something that’s going to last for years and years,” says Jim.
Marc Bartolomeo of Save My Bath says, “You should always store materials in a cool, dry place.”
Steve adds, “A roll of plastic will save you a lot of time and a lot of money, when it comes to wood and concrete. When it comes to tools and stuff like that, keep them inside.”
“People will often make the mistake of not going green with their home project for two reasons: 1. They don’t know how to, and 2. They think that it costs more money,” Carmen says.
“If you’re doing your renovation green, you’re really ahead of the market right now. So going green is a very smart investment,” Carey emphasizes.
“People often make the mistake of picking the wrong paint for whatever particular project they may be working on,” says Carmen. “You don’t realize that there is paint for just about every surface.”
“Flat is for your ceilings and sometimes for your walls,” adds carpenter Jeff Devlin of Spice Up My Kitchen. “Whereas your semigloss would be for trim in a bathroom or in a dining room. The glossy will give it a more upscale look.”
“Windows are really expensive, and a lot of people try to (save) money on them, but that’s not where you want to save your money,” Jimmy says.
“You can always put more emphasis on the windows in the front of the house that face the street. That’s one way to save on money, but do not skimp on quality,” Nancy says.
The most important things you can have on a job site for your own personal safety are goggles to protect your eyes, ear protection to protect your hearing and gloves to protect your hands from splinters, nails and such,” says Jim. “(Also) a good set of boots because there are nails and sharp objects everywhere. The last thing is, you must have a first-aid kit.”
“You have to know what you’re getting into,” Jim says. “Even if you’re not doing the work yourself, know what to look for, what your contractor is doing. That way you can keep a close eye on the project and know when something’s getting out of hand.”
“I think it’s really important to do at least some preliminary work. You want to be able to have enough information to know what questions to ask,” Nancy says.
“You need to make sure that the contractor is right for you, because he’s going to be in your home, and you want to make sure it’s the right contractor,” Jeff says.
Stephen Drucker, former editor in chief of House Beautiful adds, “When you interview contractors and you check references, the thing you want to find out is, how fast do they return phone calls? A contractor who returns phone calls fast has nothing to hide, and it’s going to reduce your anxiety level.”
“When people make the mistake of not knowing their limitations, they often take shortcuts,” Carmen says.
Eric explains, “You really do have to know up front where you’re going, and you can’t jump into things without having a plan.”
“I think that people often underestimate what it’s going to cost to do a big renovation, and part of that is because they don’t realize the biggest cost in a renovation usually is the labor,” Nancy says.
“You never know what’s going to happen once you start the demolition process. As soon as you open up a wall, you never know what you’re going to find behind that wall, so you need to pad your budget, and you need to be realistic,” Jeff said.