It’s hard not to love a big reveal moment, which is probably why renovation projects are some of my favorite to collaborate on with clients. Typically, it means that I’m not only helping make the space visually appealing for my client, but it also means that I’m helping solve a need they have. Maybe we are fixing a functional issue, or maybe we just need to help the space feel more cohesive to the rest of the home. Either way, when the project is done, I’m turning over a dream that has been realized.
But those dreams don’t just materialize without a significant amount of planning, coordination, and quality craftsmanship. While no project is ever perfect, avoiding renovation mistakes will help ensure you stay on time, on task, and on budget.
1. NOT HAVING A VISUAL PLAN.
Have you ever looked at a space in your home and had literally no idea where to start. You’re not alone. It’s quite common, and it’s typically the number one reason why clients hire an Interior Designer. I recommend that clients who are just beginning take inventory of their space, and determine what it lacks to make it their ideal room. Consider how the space functions and flows, everyday use, storage, lighting, and privacy.
From there, collect inspiration that will serve as the foundation for your plan. Narrow down the style and aesthetic, color palette, and preferred materials and finishes. While its easy to be overwhelmed by inspiration, it will also help direct your focus.
When I complete a consultation with a client, I take all of their feedback and use that to create concept boards, like the one below, that serve as our roadmap for future discussions. It may not be where we end up, but it helps us plan and identify what the space needs and how much we need to budget for materials or installation.
2. NOT MAKING A BUDGET, OR NOT STICKING TO ONE.
If you haven’t taken notice, renovation costs and materials have completely skyrocketed over the last 2 years. Seemingly everyone rushed to renovate their homes, given the prolonged occupancy we all found ourselves enjoying. And just because you can DIY something, doesn’t mean you should.
So where do you begin? Start by making a list of all materials needed for the project, and set realistic expectations regarding the project outcome. Fall in love with that all marble subway shower on pinterest? While it’s a show stopper, it’s not necessarily a budget friendly option (material and install costs are higher than more budget friendly materials like porcelain). By researching average material prices, material quality, and identifying areas where you can save vs. splurge, you’ll be better equipped to set budget numbers that meet your needs. Obtaining multiple contractor estimates will also give you a good range of labor costs.
Once you’ve established your budget for materials and labor, add 10-20% for the inevitable unforeseen contingency, to help eliminate stress when future issues arise. Better to overestimate than be stuck with a large change order at the end of the project.
3. NOT PROPERLY VETTING PROFESSIONAL HELP.
Knowing where to find quality contractors is one of the biggest reasons clients don’t start. Trusting someone with your home, and your finances, is a big deal. Which is why it’s essential to properly vet any contractor or trades person that is completing work in your home.
Always request a written estimate, project timeline, and contract. Ask for verification of insurance, licensing, and bonds if required by your state. Review their standing with the Better Business Bureau. Research their website, google reviews, and social media accounts. Ask for pictures of past work, as well as past client references (and follow through with contacting them!).
Have a clear understanding of what is included in the contractor’s estimate, and what isn’t. Quality contractors will also guarantee their craftsmanship for a period of time.
4. NOT SELECTING QUALITY MATERIALS.
While there are many places across a renovation to save, selecting quality materials that meet the demands of the space and how you live isn’t one of them. Two materials I always recommend investing in include flooring and fixtures.
When it comes to plumbing fixtures and fittings, don’t be fooled by a low price. The best options will be constructed out of high quality materials, and come with limited or lifetime warranties. Just because you can find an inexpensive off brand faucet on Amazon for under $30 dollars doesn’t me you should. Whew! There, I said it. And I’m guilty as charged. I’m not saying that faucet is going to fail tomorrow, and maybe it has excellent reviews, and Susan from Texas installed it herself with great success, but it will eventually fail. The last thing you want is to tear out your brand new tile shower because you bought an inexpensive shower valve.
Your floors take the most abuse of any material in your home. Selecting the wrong material can mean you may be forced to replace it much sooner than you anticipated. Think about how you live, how you use the space, and how long you want the floors to last.
5. NOT WORKING WITH AN INTERIOR DESIGNER.
Now, I may be a little partial here, but hear me out. I’m as much of a weekend warrior, DIY’er as the next gal. But after struggling through my own past home renovations (analysis paralysis!), and helping clients who have been in the same boat, I’m here to shout from the rooftops that getting professional help is WORTH IT!
Can’t make decisions? Hire a designer. Not sure where to start? Hire a designer. Can’t figure out what material should be used in a specific application? Hire a designer. See a trend here, friends?
Not only can a designer make expert recommendations on materials, but they will help ensure that your project stays on task, on time, and on budget. Plus, who has time these days to manage all the things! I for one would rather spend time with my family enjoying my new space, vs spending every waking moment trying to finish it. As your designer, I can help you navigate each step of your renovation, from ideation, to material selection, to project coordination.
Want a few more tips? Check out our segment with Tyler Ryan of Good Morning Columbia!
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