Living space: modern Living room by Thomas & Spiers Architects

​8 common renovation mistakes most of us make

Johannes van Graan Johannes van Graan
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We’re not going to lie to you: renovation is tough. It’s all fine and well to daydream about a sleek new kitchen or a backyard extension where you can finally enjoy your new dining room (or whatever else it is you require from a home renovation project), but don’t think that it’s going to be possible without a bit of blood, sweat and tears! Or money! 

Fortunately, here on homify we always provide good news. And today’s piece of happy advice is that even though there are quite a few renovation gaps to fall into, there are also ways to avoid them. Like by reading these 8 most common renovation mistakes so that you know how to sidestep them.

Let’s start…

1. Renovation mistakes to avoid: DIYing without experience

Broadgates Road SW18:  Terrace house by BTL Property LTD
BTL Property LTD

Broadgates Road SW18

BTL Property LTD

You may be a devoted fan of every renovation programme on television, but that still doesn’t make you a qualified expert. And although we always encourage DIY projects, some are best left to seasoned pros – especially anything related to electricity and plumbing. 

Be honest about your skills. Have you ever done any large-scale home maintenance projects? Do you consider yourself “handy”? Do you possess the knowledge to tackle tasks like electrical work and piping? If the answer is “no” to any of these questions, save yourself a lot of headache and costs, and contact the professionals.

2. Renovation mistakes to avoid: Starting too soon

Spiral staircase to the mezzanine:  Corridor & hallway by Railing London Ltd
Railing London Ltd

Spiral staircase to the mezzanine

Railing London Ltd

If you’ve just moved into a new home, give it some time before you start planning any major overhauls. Learn where the sun shines indoors, where to place the groceries, where is a good spot for laundry, which way the rain slants, etc. You and your home must first get to know one another before any big changes can be implemented.

3. Renovation mistakes to avoid: Ripping up squeaking floorboards

NEW BUILD LONDON PENTHOUSE:  Floors by The Market Design & Build
The Market Design & Build

NEW BUILD LONDON PENTHOUSE

The Market Design & Build

Think that your only option for an old noisy floorboard is to rip it up? Squeaks can sometimes be silenced by puffing powdered graphite or talcum powder between boards that rub together, replacing missing or incorrect nails with cut flat floorboard nails, or using a nail punch to drive loose nails down. These, of course, are less costly than redoing the entire floor.

4. Renovation mistakes to avoid: Picking the lowest estimate

Once you’ve decided to bring a professional onboard, start collecting estimates / quotes from reputable contractors. Sifting through those numbers, it can be quite tempting to go with the cheapest option. Resist!

Those low figures are usually low for a reason. And sometimes it means they are cutting corners or missing out on some crucial service that is completely worth the extra expense. 

Regarding whose quote to consider, first look for any common numbers. If there’s a figure that keeps appearing on different quotes, this is likely the true cost. This should point you in the right direction in terms of which contractor to consider. Next, look at their past projects, collect online reviews, and speak to previous clients. 

Finally, if it comes down to the final two options, pick the one with whom you feel most comfortable.

5. Renovation mistakes to avoid: Not asking for references

Continuing from point 4, we’d like to reiterate the importance of speaking to past clients. Remember that these people will already have gone through what you are planning; thus, they have a better understanding of what it’s like working with the professional. 

Reach out to general contractors for an architect’s references, and vice-versa. And, if possible, visit your candidates’ job sites to see what they look like in terms of cleanliness and vibe.

6. Renovation mistakes to avoid: Painting or treating bricks

Oliver's Wharf: industrial Living room by Will Eckersley
Will Eckersley

Oliver's Wharf

Will Eckersley

Paints and colourless water-repellent solutions may worsen deterioration by trapping moisture in the brickwork. Moisture can also be forced to travel greater distances to escape, thus increasing the mobilisation of damaging soluble salts.

Where a render has been previously stripped from brickwork, it might be the best idea to replace it in order to protect the bricks against the inclement weather. A new render or lead cladding over previously unprotected brickwork may also be the best choice in certain circumstances; for example, to protect the inside face of a parapet wall suffering from rainwater saturation.

7. Renovation mistakes to avoid: Taking on too much

One makeover project can easily turn into two, then three, and before you know it, the entire house is in chaos. And so what should have been satisfaction about a job well done turns into frustration and tears, plus a sense that your home is a never-ending mess. 

Fortunately, this is very easy to avoid. Instead of tackling multiple renovation projects at once (i.e. a new backsplash in the kitchen, replacing the island, redoing the hallway flooring, adding a skylight to the upstairs bathroom… ), focus on one at a time. When completed satisfactorily and after checking that your budget is still okay, move on to the next.  

Renovating is stressful enough – you don’t need to be multiplying the effect!

8. Renovation mistakes to avoid: Not anticipating roadblocks

Terrace with furniture: modern Garden by Gardenplan Design
Gardenplan Design

Terrace with furniture

Gardenplan Design

It’s a fact that most renovations don’t go according to plan. The last thing that anyone wants is to meet up with a series of unanticipated setbacks, but that’s just how life works. 

The best thing for you to do is to make sure you expect the unexpected before it happens. Do this by padding your budget and timeline from the start. Leave roughly 10 – 15% extra in your budget for unexpected costs. 

Do the same with your contractor’s timeline – make a mental note to add at least two weeks to when he states will be the final date to account for any issues that may delay the work slightly.

Now that you know what not to do, we feel you are ready for these 10 cheap ways to boost the value of your home.

Any other renovation mistakes that we left out? Tell us what they are!
Whitton Drive:  Terrace house by GK Architects Ltd

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