Improving St. Louis homes for over 65 years has taught us what makes for a successful remodeling project. We also learn from homeowner stories of past painful remodeling projects, and notice that their experiences have several things in common. We’ve distilled this knowledge into the 7 most common remodeling mistakes and how to avoid making them:
1. Bypassing the Research Phase
Sometimes the frustration with your home is so profound that impulsive decisions are made to relieve the pain. Taking a sledgehammer to the wall between the kitchen and dining room happens – we’ve fielded the “what do we do now?” phone calls! Take time to observe and list the functional and aesthetic problems with your home. Use the internet to research solutions and products. Create an outline of goals, needs and desires. This homework gives you knowledge and focus while looking for a remodeling contractor.
2. Asking for Bids Without Specifications
A reputable contractor cannot accurately answer a broad question like, “How much would it cost to remodel my kitchen?” without seeing your home and learning about your desires. Every project is unique, and the details are what create the accurate price for your project. Bring remodeling contractors into your home so they can learn about you and your project and come up with a detailed work scope, which then informs an estimate. Once you have this information, you can compare apples to apples.
3. Being Unrealistic About the Budget
From products to labor, home remodeling TV programs foster a false sense of what a remodeling project costs. Inevitably, there is sticker shock upon learning the real-world cost. But don’t be dismayed – learning the truth is merely the starting point of fine-tuning your goals. You know how much you can reasonably spend. Share that with a contractor so a project is designed and built within those financial parameters. Designers, especially, are great at making the most of a budget.
4. Hiring the Wrong Contractor
Discussing estimates and budget with contractors in your home gives you a sense of how they perform, and if you can foresee a good working relationship with them. But that’s not enough. Do thorough research on your most likely candidates. Check their standing with the Better Business Bureau. Do a Google search about the company to see what pops up. Inquire about their work processes and warranty. Ask for and check their references. If you like what you find and feel a sense of trust and ease with the entire remodeling team, you can make a final decision with confidence.
5. Falling into “While You’re At It…”
The surest way to blow a budget and deadline is making changes during construction. The design phase is when you can cost-effectively experiment and try out different ideas. Once the design is solidified and construction begins, a major change in plans or materials can cause the budget to creep up and the project to take longer than contracted. If a change needs to be made during construction, be sure it’s accounted for with a change order signed by both you and the contractor.
6. Ignoring Problems that are Uncovered
In homes of any age, remodeling can expose some unforeseen problems that no one could humanly know about it until a wall is opened. If a problem reveals itself, the wisest move is to correct it then and there so it doesn’t come back to haunt you later. Experienced contractors have a rough idea of what could pop up and have different methods of preparing for such things, but it still boils down to the possibility of additional expense during construction. A common rule of thumb is to sock away an extra 10% of the total project cost in case of emergencies.
7. Keeping Questions and Concerns to Yourself
Dashed expectations equals dissatisfaction. Assumptions and silence can be detrimental to success. A remodeling project is a working relationship between you and your contractor, and constant and clear communication is crucial. A good project manager makes regular meetings and status reports a part of the standard process. Speak up if it feels or appears things are veering away from the agreed-upon goal. Everything has a solution when you talk it out.
Have you experienced a remodeling mistake not covered in our list? Please share your story in the comments, because knowing what not do is just as important as doing it right the first time. And to learn more about the Mosby Building Arts remodeling process, call our office at 314.909.1800 or contact us here.