The mortgage has come through and the celebratory key photos have been shared on social media, but what’s next? When you buy a new property, you can’t call up a landlord to get them to fix things anymore, it’s down to you to get the job done! There are some typical home renovation mistakes for new homeowners, so check this list and make sure you can bypass these costly errors.
1. Wanting to Fix Everything All at Once
When you first buy a home, you want to make it your own. It can be tempting to want to fix everything all at once, but that would be a mistake! “This leads to frustration and a feeling that the house is never-ending chaos,” explains interior designer Ashish from Emerald Doors. “So rather than attempting to handle numerous home renovations at the same time, it’s smarter to concentrate on one in a turn. This will help you to keep your home clean and also budget intact.”
2. Focusing on Making Everything Brand New
While there are plenty of things that need to be sorted out, don’t waste time and money making unnecessary replacements. You may want everything to be brand new, but there are plenty of cost effective ways to get a room looking refreshed without a complete overhaul, like resurfacing the bathroom or switching over lighting or doorknobs.
3. Trying to Do It All by Themselves
Maybe you’ve been watching DIY shows and home makeover problems and believe you can do it all yourself, but be realistic about what you can achieve.
“The stress of making home renovations is already overwhelming, if you decide that you want to take on some of the projects yourself, consider hiring an extra hand or two for help,” recommends Matt Edstrom, CMO of GoodLife Home Loans. “Taking on a DIY project that you don’t have the skills or resources to complete is going to cause a considerable amount of added stress and you’ll likely end up with a job that’s been poorly done or unfinished.”
4. Getting the Wrong Contractor
While contractors in general are good at what they do, you should take precautions to find the right one. Earl White from House Heroes says “unfortunately, many contractors employ a ‘bait and switch’ technique: offer a low price for the work and after work begins report an allegedly unanticipated defect that needs more payment. Avoid the ‘bait and switch’ by obtaining written detail of all proposed work (so they can’t pretend they were unaware of a repair later). The written report should break down material and labor costs. Armed with this information you can compare the quotes from different contractors.”
Do your research on contractors to make sure you’re getting someone who gets the job done well. Follow up on references, and don’t think that the cheapest price will necessarily give you the worst or best results.
5. Not Making a Budget or Plan
Planning is so important. Without a plan, the timeline can float around forever and it can be hard to get things done. You don’t want the project to feel like it will never end. Ideally, work out what you want to achieve, make a list of your materials and then research the prices so you have an idea of what things will cost.
“Fixtures, furniture and accessories can cost a good amount of the budget,” says Linda H from LH Designs. But don’t leave furniture as an afterthought. With a plan for the whole design, you want to be mindful of overall cost as “when it’s time to purchase items, people get sticker shock. Check out what fixtures or pieces you like and see how much pricing costs to consider it into the budget.”
6. Spending Money in the Wrong Places
Is your family one that spends a lot of time socializing? Do you have issues with the kitchen? Who cooks the most and what do they require? Along with planning, the focus on what you’re changing and how you’re doing it will change where you should spend your cash.
“You should invest your money on the features you will use the most and what will your family or guests will enjoy the most,” says Yoel Piotraut from MyHome Design. “Before starting demolition be certain your plans, specifications and details are fully and completely worked out in precise detail. Any wiggle room or ambiguity of any details are nemeses of your budget and time.”
7. Ignoring Permit Requirements
“Many new homeowners do not realize they may need a permit from the municipality buildings department for new bathrooms or electrical upgrades and have it inspected afterwards to insure it is up to code,” reminds New York State General Appraiser Ginna Currie.
Not an exciting part of renovation and maybe it hasn’t even crossed your mind, but protect the value of your home by ensuring wherever a permit may be required, you’ve secured it. Check with your local municipality for any licenses that may be required. Don’t get caught out, as the costs and penalties may far outweigh the materials of putting it up in the first place.
Often a permit will be required for anything that involves structural changes to a property including fences, new additions, moving or removing walls, installation of fireplaces, new windows and door openings, sidings or even water heaters. A good local contractor will know which permits may be required for your project.
8. Missing the Warning Signs on Materials
Depending on the age of your home, your walls or flooring could contain asbestos. Up until the 1980s this material was a popular choice for its insulating properties, until that is, it was discovered as a lead cause of mesothelioma cancer.
“Before beginning any renovation work, have a certified professional inspect your home and test for asbestos-containing materials. If asbestos is found, have these materials removed by an abatement team to ensure you are not exposing yourself to dangerous asbestos fibers,” recommends Colin Ruggiero from Mesothelioma. Sometimes it’s better just to leave it alone.
You may also want to look out for lead-based paint, or look ahead to bamboo flooring and no-VOC materials in your upcoming renovation.
9. Falling Hard for Trends
Trends come, and then they go. Everyone gets to relish different styles but when you’re looking for a home that lasts the decade you don’t want to spend money changing things and having dated decor the moment you finish redecorating.
To combat this, ffirstly, figure out your style — having an interior designer tell you what you should have in your house won’t work, you need to think about what decor suits your home and suits your personal style. By thinking about what colors and materials you love, you are preparing yourself for living in a home you’ll want to be in for a while to come. Try to avoid themes, unless that’s with textiles that you can easily swap out when your mood takes its fancy, and be prepared for new styles and inspiration to capture you.
10. Neglecting Function Over Form
You want your home to look the best it can be, but don’t neglect the functionality of your hardware. Often people have aesthetics at the forefront of their mind. “What they’re doing is great for increasing the value of a property in the event of a future sale. Setting up new kitchen cabinets and installing a new bathtub in the bathroom will increase the value of the property, but if they don’t stop to consider other things that are really important, such as structural damage, electrical wires, and broken pipes, the investment could quickly turn into a money pit,” explains Bryan Stoddard from Homewares Insider.
11. Not Setting Up Regular Maintenance Routines
Depending on where you live, there are different maintenance tasks you may be required to pay attention to. Contractor Justin Krzyston from Stonehurst believes now is the time to tackle your heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) whatever the time of year. “It’s always a good idea to clean your HVAC and ventilation system the week you move into to you new space,” says Krzyston. “Sometimes those systems are overlooked during the inspections process, so to ensure your safety you should have a profession do a double check on the filters. Additionally, you can take it step further and have your range hood checked in your kitchen to make sure everything is in working order.”
Get yourself set up ahead of time by scheduling regular maintenance days, having a standing order for someone to check the chimney flue, and make sure to clean your gutters.
Corrections: This article was updated on 15th March 2019 to correct a name.
Are you a new homeowner looking for inspiration and a checklist to get your home in line? Let us know if this tips and tricks guide has opened your eyes, and let us know what’s missing in the comments below!
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