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Home Information and Links Ten Remodeling Mistakes

Ten Remodeling Mistakes Made By Homeowners

The National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) has identified the ten biggest mistakes made by homeowners when remodeling. I have included some “Black Dog Notes”.

Mistake 1: Hiring the wrong contractor. A contractor should be bonded, insured, licensed (depending on state requirements), and a member of a professional trade organization. . Black Dog note: While bidding is usually seen as a way to get the lowest price, it often leads to an adversarial situation between owner and builder, or architect. Many people have had excellent results by selecting a builder early in the process, since their experience can be integrated into the design, and costs can be controlled by creating a team for your project. Also, if the builder is familiar with the house and the design as it developed there will likely be fewer surprises along the way.

Mistake 2: Selecting inferior products to save money. Non-quality products can be a hazard to both homes and residents, and will end up costing more in the long run. Black Dog note: Both the Architect and the Builder have extensive knowledge of products and options beyond Home Depot’s selection. That knowledge can be used to specify products that are well made, cost-effective and work well for your needs.

Mistake 3: Over extending oneself on a do-it-yourself (DIY) project. Costs will dramatically increase if a contractor must be found who will agree to take over a DIY job gone bad. Also, trying to DIY at the same time can adversely affect a builder’s schedule. Black Dog Note: I would also not recommend “working with the builder” to save money unless you are willing and able to keep up with their schedule and have the skills and time to do the work.

Mistake 4: Improper planning. The finished project will only be as good as the design and plan. Without proper planning, unexpected problems could cause additional costs. Black Dog Note: This means planning from the start, before anything is built, not starting a project and then trying to figure it out along the way. There are too many variables involved to “just wing it.” Also, plan way ahead if being ready for a holiday is important to you. Nothing ruins Thanksgiving more quickly than no kitchen.

Mistake 5: Not taking all choices into consideration. A homeowner’s imagination and ability to visualize choices make for better decisions. The contractor and architect can also present different options.

Mistake 6: Starting a project at the wrong time. Planning sufficient time and arranging it for the homeowner’s and remodeler’s schedules help reduce stress. Black Dog Note: Ideally, this means planning on the off season so you are ready to go when the weather turns. It also means not planning for completion at a holiday, where schedule delays can wreak havoc on a family’s plans. See #4. Projects will always take longer than you think.

Mistake 7: Not managing the budget. Homeowners should budget 10-20% as a reserve for the unexpected. This can be an unexpected structural problem or an opportunity that becomes apparent as the building takes shape. Sometimes, “stuff” happens.

Mistake 8: The domino effect. The newly installed kitchen looks so good, now the other rooms have to be redone. Black Dog Note: It can also help to include planning for the other areas as well, at least in the initial design stages, so the new work is done with an eye to the bigger picture, and to have a plan is in place if you go forward after the main project is done.

Mistake 9: Over-remodeling for the neighborhood. If a resale is planned for the near future and the home is already at its maximum value, money spent remodeling will not be recouped. If a long-term stay is projected, remodeling for comfort can justify the expense. Black Dog Note: Always plan and remodel for your OWN current and perceived needs and desires, not a hoped-for future gain. Just as you buy and use a car knowing the value is in the use, not the resale, you may not get all you investment back as money, but if planned well you will get it back in quality of life and usefulness.

Mistake 10: Homeowners not knowing their rights. A contract should include a comprehensive description of the project, payment schedule, timetable and the types of products that will be used, including make and model. The responsibilities of the contractors and any sub-contractors should be included. A contract also needs to list provisions for warranties, changes in procedures and, should problems arise, alternative dispute resolution clauses. Black Dog Note: This advice is good for the architects contract as well, which should spell out the understanding of the project scope, the services being provided, a conceptual time frame, fees and contractual terms. NARI is a not-for-profit trade association that has been committed to enhancing the professionalism of the remodeling industry and educating homeowners for more than 50 years.

For additional information, call (703) 575-1100, ext. 3018 for NARI, or contact me at 215-886-6916.