36 Common Renovation Mistakes You Can Easily Avoid

How to remodel the right way

Remodeling a house can be a great way to turn a tired building into a dream home, but taking on such a big project isn’t always smooth sailing. From delayed deliveries to unforeseen structural problems and design oversights, there are always snags along the way. Be prepared for the problems that might crop up by checking out these common home renovation mistakes before you start. Click or scroll on for more…

Renovating too soon

If you’ve just purchased your home and it’s in a habitable state, it’s a good idea to live in it a little while before beginning renovations so that you can figure out what works and what doesn’t work in its current layout. From where you drop the groceries and how the living zones flow, to where the coldest and warmest corners of the house are, it’ll help you hone a practical and comfortable design rather than purely focusing on aesthetics.

Neglecting natural light

One thing you can’t see on a floor plan is the way natural light can shape a room. Get to know how different spaces in your home feel as the sun shifts through the day before you lock in a layout. For example, you’ll likely want your key family living areas to benefit from the most light ‒ you can boost levels with glazing options such as glass patio doors and large picture windows. Meanwhile, more occasional rooms like snugs and guest spaces can occupy darker areas of the house. 

Focusing on too many rooms at once

If you’re working with a tight budget and your timeline is less constrictive, concentrate on tackling the most used rooms in the house first. Doing a little work across a lot of rooms will only lead to frustration and leave you with an array of unfinished living spaces. Instead, focus on ticking off one or two vital rooms such as the kitchen or the lounge, then move on to other areas when money allows.

Not having a plan

A half-hearted renovation plan can lead to unnecessary stress. The more decisions you make beforehand and communicate to your contractor the better. Try not to change your mind too many times during the build as it’s likely to run up the cost and lead to delays ‒ you may have to make some exceptions due to unforeseen challenges anyway.

Going with the cheapest quote

Don’t choose your contractor on a whim or without research. Always get a few quotes, don’t be afraid to ask for references or case studies and then check them out on ‘word of mouth’ forums and social feeds. Don’t base your selection on price alone – good communication is key when sticking to a construction plan so it’s important to feel comfortable.

Running out of time

Never underestimate the time it takes to renovate or remodel your home. Set out a realistic schedule with your contractor before the job starts that outlines every task from start to finish. Include who is doing what and the budget for each task. Build in extra time for delays in materials or unforeseen problems along the way.

Cutting professional corners

Depending on the size and type of renovation you may need to consult other specialists which come with extra costs. As well as a contractor you may need to consult architects, structural engineers and permit officers to fine-tune your design plan or sign off works.

Building permit oversights

House extensions are marvelous for making more space or redesigning a floor plan. However, not going through the right channels could prove costly. Make sure you apply for a permit, otherwise you may be forced to tear down that lovely new extension. 

Voiding your existing home insurance

While some home insurance policies will offer cover for minor decorating projects and DIY, most won’t cover you for a major renovation. To ensure you’re covered should disaster strike, call your insurer before you start work to check what your policy covers and if necessary put renovation insurance in place. You may also need to arrange for extended cover if you intend to leave your home unoccupied while works are being carried out.

Not having a lighting plan

When you come to plan your new layout, don’t forget to factor in your lighting setup. Consider areas where you’ll need task lighting, such as kitchen worktops and islands, as well as dark corners or basements that might require extra illumination. It’s best to iron this out sooner rather than later so that your contractors can ensure the correct wiring is in place.

Measuring wrong

Not having the correct measurements seems like a rookie mistake but it’s more common than you think. The simple task can be costly and set your schedule back, so measure accurately twice to avoid frustrations further down the line. For instance, double-story extensions build upwards, and if you’re not careful, can block out other homes’ natural light. If you have close neighbors, it pays to be considerate.

Not considering neighbors

Factor in your neighbors when planning an extension. For instance, double-story extensions build upwards, and if you’re not careful, can block out other homes’ natural light. If you have close neighbors, it pays to be considerate.

Dishonoring a property’s period

Take into account the period of the property you are renovating. Additions will look more professional and well finished if the new scheme is in keeping with its roots and original structure. For instance, a traditional Shaker kitchen complements this Victorian chimney breast yet the modern appliances are streamlined and contemporary in this position. 

No contingency fund

Don’t make the mistake of thinking nothing will go wrong. There are always hidden hiccups and extra costs that crop up so try to assign around 20% of your budget for the snag list. Otherwise, you might have to live in an unfinished room until you can save up to finish the project. 

Dismissing doorways

Don’t forget function as well as form. Map out all the door openings in the design plan as they’ll need to open comfortably or you’ll end up with obstructions or potentially no privacy. This ensuite has overcome the lack of door swing space with an unobtrusive sliding version. 

Underestimating drainage

A wet room sounds luxurious but if you get it wrong, it can be a water-logged nightmare. The drainage system needs to have an efficient capacity for the water flow rate and floors need to have the correct recommended gradient in the direction of the drain location. 

Knocking down structural walls

If you are planning on removing walls then bear in mind most of them have a structural purpose, so knocking them down without seeking expert advice could leave you with a costly repair or worse. Seek the expertise of a structural engineer or trusted builder, who will know which are load-bearing and if there are pipes and wires within them that need moving first.

Basement bloopers

A basement conversion will add more square footage but the conversion work and costs can be easily underestimated. Ask these questions before you begin: Are the ceilings high enough? Is there any damp or flood risk? How will daylight enter the room? Are there any bulky items like furnaces that need to be hidden or even moved?

Insulation impediments

Efficient insulation will ensure your new rooms are warm or cool (depending on the climate) as well as keep energy costs down. Special attention needs to be given to loft conversions, basement changes, garage remodeling and glazed structures. 

Skipping storage

Forgetting to allocate storage could be an impractical hiccup and in the long term even devalue your home. Design your new layout to maximize every inch of your space and meet your exact storage needs. Simon Tcherniak, Senior Furniture Designer at Neville Johnson explains: “As we acquire and retain more and more, we all need more room. However, as property sizes get smaller and space becomes more of a premium, we look at innovative, clever storage solutions to aid us in achieving an uncluttered, streamlined lifestyle. Sometimes going bespoke and built-in is the only option for this.”

Ignoring the environment

Consider the environmental footprint of your house before you renovate. Are there eco-friendly appliances you could incorporate into your design, such as an energy-efficient dishwasher that uses less water? Don’t forget about the waste materials from your project too – these can often be taken to a recycling center, or you could even advertise surplus bricks and left over wood pallets on local selling sites for reuse. Or even better, you could source salvaged materials for your renovation!

Scrimping on outdoor materials

With outdoor space at the top of many wish lists, spending time and money making your garden gorgeous will undoubtedly pay off. Choose good quality materials that will weather well and last for decades to come. Do your research too and select elements that have innovative installation systems, such as DIY-friendly composite decking tiles to simplify, streamline and speed up the process where you can.

Installing wood-burning stoves

While a wood-burning stove may seem a desirable asset in a home, they do come with their own set of hazards, not least in relation to the environment and your own health. Do your research and choose an eco design. In terms of installation, there are regulations to follow and cutting corners could create a dangerous home hazard. Even an existing old fireplace will need reconditioning to accommodate a modern eco-design wood burner safely and efficiently.

Forgetting attic limitations

An attic conversion is a great way to extend your home without losing garden space but it’s a big job with lots that can go wrong. There needs to be a minimum head height, additional light and heat sources and don’t forget you’ll lose a lot of storage space in the process. In addition, you will need to take space from another room or landing to provide access stairs.

Exposing walls

Looking to create a beautifully raw and texture exposed brick feature wall? Make sure the brickwork of the wall you want to strip is the right type of brick you want on show. Choose a wall with the least amount of windows, doors and sockets. If a whole wall is a bit scary go for a feature like a chimney breast or a kitchen backsplash wall. Lastly, be prepared, this project will whip up a dust storm.

Bi-fold door blunders

You can’t look at an interiors magazine, website or social feed without coming across chic bi-folding doors that blur the boundaries between a gorgeous kitchen-diner and garden terrace. But before you lose your old patio doors you need to make sure your new expansive concertinas have the right support and are fitted properly. Bi-fold door systems are large, top-hung, technical door systems, that come with a pretty big price tag, so you’ll want them to slide right.

Shorting out on electrics

Don’t dodge the proper procedures when dealing with the electrics. Enlist a qualified electrician to make sure wiring and circuits are safe and efficient. When planning ensure you have allocated enough electrical sockets and lighting combinations, and that they are in the correct positions when key elements and furniture is all in place.

Not requesting a new insurance quote

Finishing a perfect renovation with a few added luxuries is an incredible achievement but have you thought about insurance adjustments for your new home? That extra bedroom with a Juliette balcony or the luxury plunge pool in the freshly landscaped garden will need a new insurance assessment too. 

Not following a flow

If you are altering layouts, changing to open plan or shifting kitchens and bathrooms to other rooms ensure the walk-through path still works and it is easy to maneuver around your home. Then, hone in on individual room plans; consider the kitchen work triangle or balancing focal points in the living room. 

Impractical design choices

A stylish and striking interior design may seem a glorious idea and make you the envy of your friends but is it really practical and safe for everyday living? Perhaps it’s better to leave the floating stairs, low hanging chandeliers and super-slippery, polished floors in favor of solid design that’s comfortable to use every day.

Not considering soundproofing

Soundproofing a home is often overlooked, but it’s a necessary consideration for young families who make a lot of noise but need quiet when it’s bedtime. Also, period properties will benefit from an acoustic design update as they do not meet the soundproofing demands we have today. Poppy Szkiler, founder of the UK’s Quiet Mark charity, explains: “Planning acoustic design helps create a long-term peaceful, protective, comfortable-feeling living environment, missing this vital step can lead to annoying reverberation.”

Terrible temperature control

Desperate for an elegant sunroom or funky kitchen-diner extension with a glass roof? Make sure you consider room temperature first as sun streaming through untreated glazing can heat a room fast. Generally, south-facing rooms will bask in sunlight all day so go for good airflow. North-facing will be cooler, so may need heating. Easterly make great breakfast rooms with morning sunshine and westerly will benefit from afternoon warmth.

Not ordering extra flooring

Make sure you’ve ordered enough material to complete flooring jobs. The general rule of thumb is to buy 20% extra to account for installation wastage and defects. Woodfloors4u suggests measuring the length by width at the floor’s largest areas to get the right square dimensions. In L-shaped rooms, measure each rectangle separately.

Forgetting fundamentals

The boring bits like guttering, cladding and ‘making good’ outdoor spaces once building work is finished is often an afterthought, but the costs can add up. Take your time choosing the materials; after all that hard work a rush job could let your efforts down, resulting in exterior damage or look unprofessional and unfinished. 

Spending unnecessarily

Before you get carried away with gadgets, mod cons or designer materials, step back and consider if it’s needed or will these costly additions prove more troublesome in the long run? Unless you have an unlimited budget look out for cheaper alternatives – marble bathroom tiles are luxurious, but there may be a cheaper alternative that look like the real thing but are much less porous.

Following fads

Blowing your budget on the wrong rooms and features can be an error of judgement you’ll regret. Kitchens and bathrooms tend to be the go-to rooms for expenditure as they are practical investments that should only need replacing each decade. As such it’s a good idea to go for timeless cabinetry and flooring that you can update with décor and accessories to keep the style feeling fresh and up-to-date.

Story by Rachel Homer