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  • Writer's pictureRob R

Common Mistakes Homeowners Make During a Renovation



A home renovation project can be a big investment of time and money, so it's important to avoid common mistakes that can cause delays, increase costs, and negatively impact the end result. From our years in the industry, we've compiled a list of some of the most common mistakes homeowners make during a renovation and how to avoid them:

  1. Underestimating Costs Underestimating the cost of a renovation is one of the most common mistakes homeowners make when starting a project. We understand that many homeowners, have never done a larger scale reno, so it is difficult to budget accordingly. Any good contractor, worth their weight in gold, should be able to help you budget accordingly and be realistic about the potential costs. You should also consider adding a contingency budget for unexpected expenses or changes to the project. In addition, make a list of "Needs" and "Wants". This way you know what to leave out, if your budget runs past the contingency. We always suggest having a soft and hard budget. The soft budget would be your ideal cost for the project, and your hard budget would be the cost that you do not want to exceed. There are usually always surprises during a reno, so plan to expect the unexpected.

  2. Having a Proper Contract Not having a proper contract in place can cause a wide range of issues and leave you open to being taken advantage of. Having a proper contract in place is essential for a successful renovation, and ensures both you and the contractor are on the same page. We have found sometimes it is not even malicious misleading by the contractor, but rather miscommunications as to what is included in the scope of work and what is not. Be sure to have a written contract that outlines the scope of the project, the timeline, and the payment terms at the very least. Having everything in writing, even if it is a simple email, gives you hard proof to fall back on to ensure you never hear "that wasn't included", when you thought it was.

  3. Permitting & Approvals Before starting any renovation project, it's important to obtain the proper permits. Not only is this a legal requirement, but it will also help ensure that the work is done correctly and that your home is up to code. Not doing so, could result in your project being stopped by a bylaw official until proper permitting is obtained. When it comes to condo corps especially, be sure to fill out the appropriate paperwork and submit it well in advance. Condos can make your life much more difficult than it needs to be, if you do not abide by their approval process and give them sufficient notice of your project.

  4. Impact on Your Home's Value When renovating your home, it's important to consider the impact on its value. Avoid making changes that are too personal or that will negatively impact the resale value, such as removing a bedroom or odd layout changes to the home. For instance, many young couples want to remove all the bathtubs in their home and put a shower in its place. While a nice new shower may be appealing, not having any bathtubs in the home can devalue the home, by making it less appealing to potential buyers with children. Unless you plan to say in a house for 10+ years, you should try and steer clear of drastic changes, as this too could be a deterrence when it comes to reselling.

  5. Home Inspections While this applies more so to a new home you are buying, home inspections can be an important part of any renovation. Home inspectors typically do not guarantee that they will catch all the issues within your new home, however, skipping the professional inspection before starting any renovation project could be costly. At the very least, it's important to have a professional inspector or contractor identify any potential issues or problems before diving into the reno or tearing down walls. Especially if you are doing some of the work yourself, and there is structural work involved, we recommend consulting a professional.

  6. Planning for Displacement Many homeowners do not account for the fact that some of your regular habits may be disrupted. Be prepared to be mildly inconvenienced. If you are used to cooking every night, but are undertaking a kitchen reno, realize there may be some periods when you are unable to use your appliances. If you only have one useable bathroom, you may want to stay at a friend or family member's place for a few nights. As long as you plan ahead of time and speak to your contractor, downtime for these spaces should be minimized.

  7. Unexpected Changes We understand there may be unforeseen things that present themselves during a reno, but as best as you can, try to plan in advance. One of the most common mistakes homeowners make is changing their mind about certain aspects of the renovation mid-project. This can cause delays, cost overruns, and frustration for both the homeowner and the contractor. To avoid this, spend time upfront planning and making decisions about the project before construction begins. Be sure to communicate your preferences clearly to your contractor and stick to the plan as much as possible.

  8. Budget Expectations Similar to point 1, not setting a realistic budget will result in frustration. It's important to do as much preliminary research on your type of renovation prior to even hiring a contractor so you can get a clear picture as to what the project will cost. Try to consider all of the costs associated with the project, including materials, labour, permits, and any unexpected expenses that may arise. this is where your soft and hard budget comes into play discussed earlier.

  9. Take Your Time Hiring In our experience, many customers lean towards hiring a contractor that is available to start right away. We would highly advise against this. As we tell customers, if a contractor is available right away, you have to ask why they are available and no one else has hired them. Any reputable company is typically booked 1-3 months in advance so be prepared to wait if you are looking to get someone reputable. Not researching your contractor in advance or rushing into hiring can be a costly mistake. To avoid this, do your research before hiring a contractor. Look for reviews and testimonials from previous clients, check their licensing and insurance, and ask for references. It's also a good idea to get multiple quotes to ensure you're getting a fair price and are comparing apples to apples.

By avoiding these common mistakes, you can ensure that your renovation project goes smoothly and that you get the result you want. With a little planning and preparation, you can transform your home into the space of your dreams without any unexpected surprises or delays.


Rob Rutigliano

Sr. Project Manager

HandyBros Contracting rob@handybroscontracting.ca

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