Avoid These 20 Remodeling Mistakes

Top 20 Remodeling Mistakes

Published : 04/11/2017 14:41:27
Categories : Denver Cabinet Express Blog

Chances are, if you are reading this you are either in the midst of, or at the beginning of, a remodeling project. We want to make sure you don’t fall victim to typical mistakes that create the horror stories we’re so familiar with.

Remodeling Gone Wrong

True stories!

  • The hurricane window installation that failed, and resulted in mushrooms growing around the window sills. Yes, mushrooms. Those fungi do love their damp, dark spots. Turns out that when the windows were removed, water had leaked into the walls and the mushrooms were there too. Yikes!

  • The cat that crawled into a tiny spot under the floorboard and came very close to being sealed in by the contractor.

  • The three year basement renovation that was supposed to take three months.

  • The “fix” for the cracked foundation that caused the back third of the house to collapse.

  • The bathroom remodel that turned into an entire exterior renovation when removed tile revealed missing insulation and rotting siding.

  • The contractor who got the kitchen measurements wrong and delivered a sink the size of Delaware and pantry cabinets that completely blocked entry into the kitchen.

  • The strange smell of the new roof that turned out to be a racoon sealed in by the roofers. He died.

  • The contractor that always arrived late and insisted on working late into the evening.

Avoid These Remodeling Mistakes

#1 Winging it—Going with the flow, making decisions as you go, letting the project develop. These are all really bad ideas. Without a plan you have no touchstone, nothing to look back at to see what decisions you made and why you made them. You’re very likely to spend money in the wrong places, run over-budget, and forget about keeping any kind of schedule. If you are doing a renovation with a spouse or partner, winging it is a recipe for some pretty big fights.

#2 Overestimating Returns—Don’t expect to get a dollar-for-dollar return on your investment. A $50,000 bathroom remodel is not necessarily going to add $50,000 to the value of your house. Talk to real estate agents in your area. Find out what other renovated homes in your neighborhood are selling for. Get advice from a professional other than your contractor about how much you should spend and what renovations are going to give you the most bang for your buck.

#3 Going super trendy — Bright orange bathroom tile. Iridescent back splashes. Lime green garage doors. All of these may be the height of home design today, but we guarantee that they won’t be in a year or two. Plus, how long are you really going to be able to live with that bright orange tile? Think about the avocado green appliances, rust-colored shag carpet and wicker chairs you may have seen at your parent's or grandparent’s homes. Those trends were hot, hot, hot!

#4 Skipping Permits — Please get the permits required by state and local law. That’s it. Just do it. Trust us.

#5 Cutting corners in all the wrong places — If you can’t see it, you don’t have to spend a lot of money on it. Wrong! Don’t skimp on drywall, subfloors, waterproofing, insulation, wiring or plumbing. If you have to spend a little less on fixtures so you can afford quality behind the scenes, do it. What would you rather replace, the plumbing from your toilet to the sewer line or the bathroom faucet?

#6 Not tracking your contractor’s spending — Imagine having your contractor tell you, half way through your project, that you can’t order your cabinets, bathtub, or countertops because you are out of money. Track spending closely. Make sure you know about any overages. Don’t give your contractor carte blanche to decide when going over budget is acceptable and when it isn’t. Control the spending.

#7 Overestimating your own abilities — If your DIY experience includes painting a bedroom, assembling furniture, hanging shelves and installing a new kitchen faucet, take the time to learn a little more before tackling something bigger. YouTube videos make it all look so easy. It isn’t.  

#8 Neglecting to have a backup plan — Plan for the unexpected. If asbestos is found and you have to move out of your house for two weeks, do you have a plan for that? What if serious electrical safety issues are uncovered? Or what if the estimates you receive are a lot more than you expected. Don’t go through with a project you really can’t afford. And make sure you’ve got some financial cushion left for the unexpected.

#9 Measuring incorrectly — Measure, measure, measure and measure again. Then have someone check your measurements. Then have someone check their measurements.

#10  Trying to be your own project manager — So, you’re project-manager extraordinaire in your job as a marketing manager or IT director. Those skills don’t necessarily transfer to managing and coordinating the timing for a group of subcontractors. Do you know when to get on your electrician’s schedule? Should appliances be ordered now or later? When do inspections need to be scheduled? These are just a few questions that a contractor or construction site manager can answer off the top of their heads. Let the professionals help. Plus, can you really take on a second full time job and be successful?

#11 Getting tunnel vision — You want these wood floors and you’re going to get these wood floors no matter what the consequences. They’re backordered. You don’t care. They’re going to put you significantly over budget. So what, you want them. Your dog is going to scratch the heck out of them almost immediately. You still demand that you get what you want. Don’t be that client. Be flexible. Roll with the inevitable punches.

#12 Ordering just barely enough — Order 10 to 15 percent more tile and flooring than you need to complete the job. You’ll need most of it. And you’ll be so relieved that you did when a piece of tile of floorboard need to be replaced five years down the road.  

#13 Underestimating the mess — Your house is likely going to be a dust-filled disaster area during your renovation. If you can’t live with it, make arrangements for somewhere else to sleep. You won’t be able to clean enough to keep up with it. Even the most conscientious team can’t help but make a mess. It is just the nature of the work.


#14 Not hiring a designer — For any renovation that includes relocating appliances, reorganizing cabinets, moving the location of a tub or sink, please get the help of a designer. Even if you just consult with a professional and run with their advice, you’ll be happy you did. They’ll see potential problems and better solutions because it is what they do every day. Ask for help.

#15 Not clearly defining work day expectations with your contractor — If you expect work to continue every day, Monday-through-Friday from 9am to 5pm, check those expectations with your contractor. Chances are pretty good that they’ve got a different vision.  

#16 Thinking you can still live a normal life — Your life is going to be disrupted. Prepare for it. Something as simple as stocking up on frozen dinners can make life much easier during your renovation.  

#17 Running over budget — Have a plan. Stick to that plan as much as possible. Use budget reserves for emergencies, not for fancy bathtubs. Track spending weekly. That’s it.

#18 Rushing — Put aside your need for immediate gratification. Rushing your project will inevitably lead to mistakes and regrets. It may result in shoddy work. That would be a shame. Be prepared for your project to take longer than you think it should. Mediate, go for a run, eat a piece of chocolate cake. Do whatever you need to maintain your patience and peace of mind.  

#19 Not doing your own cost comparisons — Do not leave it up to your contractor to tell you how much things cost. The Internet is an amazing tool. Use it. Do your own research. We bet that in many cases you’ll be able to find the same materials for less. It is within your rights to instruct your contractor to order from the less expensive source.

#20 Not vetting your contractor — You cannot do too much research on this front. Check their licenses and insurance. Check with the better business bureau. Talk to recent customers and customers who have been living with their renovations for a few years. If you feel uncomfortable with anything you find, keep looking. Try not to be swayed by very low prices.

That’s it! Hope you found those tips helpful.


If you need help choosing cabinets for your remodel please give us a call. We’re here to help!

Share this content