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Doing a home renovation can be incredibly exciting. You have your chance to not only upgrade your home, but to turn it into exactly what you dream of. Through a home renovation, you can finally have your dream sunrooms that never existed with the homes on the market. You can finally have the basement finishing, kitchen remodeling, bathroom upgrading awesomeness that you always dreamed of. Maybe you couldn’t afford or even find the home of your dreams when you were purchasing your home; through home renovations you can create that home.

That being said, home renovations can quickly become a living nightmare. You’ll run into problems you didn’t expect. It will take longer than you hoped. It will cost more than you wanted. You won’t hear many homeowners say that they had fun doing their home remodel (even if they love the final results). To help you avoid common pitfalls that ruin home renovations, we’ve put together a list of lesson learned:

  1. LESSON LEARNED: Choose the right general contractor.

    Your general contractor is your go-to for your entire home renovation. He (or she) will be responsible for choosing the contractors who actually do the work for your home project. They’ll be responsible for sourcing the materials. They’ll help you plan the whole project. They’ll manage the budget and timelines. In other words, if you choose the wrong general contractor, all of these factors are in jeopardy.

    When you are planning out your home renovation, the very first decision you should make is your general contractor. Look into their track record. Look at other homes they’ve worked on. Ask how they managed timelines and budgets. Ask for referrals from other clients they’ve worked with.

    Since the general contractor you’re considering obviously isn’t going to give you the referral information for a client who is dissatisfied with the experience they had, you should also do your own sleuthing. Research client review online (keeping in mind that unsolicited reviews of any type of business are going to lean more to the negative, since a person is 10 times more likely to make a review for a awful experience than a wonderful). Read local forums, such as Reddit, on the general contractors that are popular in the area. Ask your friends who are roofing contractors or deck contractors, or otherwise work in the home improvement industry which general contractor they like working with. If you get this right, the rest of the project will go better.

  2. LESSON LEARNED: Review your budget twice.

    One of the most common mistakes that create renovation nightmares is running out of money. Your workers have completed the demo phase and torn your bathroom apart, then found rotting wood inside the walls due to a water leak. Once that’s replaced, you’ve spent thousands of dollars more than you planned. Suddenly you can’t afford a toilet or vanity in your new bathroom.

    Plan out your budget before you touch the area you’re renovating. Make sure you have the money to complete it. And make sure you plan to go over budget. Incorporate a 15% contingency for all the unknowns that are most definitely going to arise.

  3. LESSON LEARNED: Measure twice, cut once.

    Your renovation is basically a giant jigsaw puzzle. All the pieces have to fit together perfectly for it to function as it should. No matter what area you are renovating, there’s going to be a considerable amount of tape measure action. You’ll need to determine the size of the sink and the size of the vanity, how much tile you’ll need for the backslash and floors. If you get one of these calculations wrong, it will throw off how the other puzzle pieces in the renovation fit together. Pretty soon, you’re a sitting duck.

    And we’ll throw this in for free: While you measure your back splash tile and flooring material, always round up on the amount you’ll need. You can always return the extra if you need to, but if you run out of material and can’t get your hands on more, you’ll be up a creek without a paddle.

Do you have any questions or comments about common home renovation mistakes? Please share in the comment section below!

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