Merry Silbaugh, ABR
Associate Broker   Cell 602-617-3245
The Big Home Remodeling Mistakes . .

The Big Home Remodeling Mistakes...

and how to avoid them!


            Making major changes in your home’s design and structure can add thousands of dollars to its sale price.  In other cases, fixing up your home is more cost-efficient and practical than moving. 

            As more and more people take on the tasks of designing new rooms, choosing materials and hiring labor for the first time, they are more likely to fall into traps that cost them time and money.

            Here are the most common errors to avoid when renovating your home...

            Mistake:  Not seeing the big picture.  When planning major structural changes, such as adding a room, many people do not take the architectural integrity of their home into consideration.  They need additional space or want their homes to look new, so their main concerns are that the work be done quickly and at a cost that is within their budgets.

            Problems: Renovation work that is out of character with the rest of the home sticks out and will be a big turnoff to potential buyers if you decide to sell in the future.

            In addition, many people try to do too much without having money to do it right.  The result is shoddy work.

            Example:  Redoing the basement may be less important- and ultimately less financially rewarding when selling your home- than adding a high-quality den or family room.

            Strategy:  First determine how much you can afford to spend in renovating.  Then draw up a wish list of what you want done, in order of preference.  To find out what your money might realistically buy, invite two architects and two contractors to look around your home and provide you with ballpark estimates.  They should do this for free.

            Then plan on striking a proper balance between solving your needs and achieving an appropriate level of quality for your type of home while working within your budget.  If you can’t get it all, postpone renovations on other parts of the house until next year or the year after.

            Trap:  Spending too much on the renovation project and making your home the most expensive one on the street, thereby pricing it out of competition.

            Choose work that will truly improve your lifestyle and make your home more attractive-without putting it beyond the reach of a potential buyer.  Doing too much is a problem.  You may be left with a home whose parts no longer work together.

            Example:  Add three bedrooms, and you may find that your dining room seems too small.

            Mistake: Being Excessively trendy.  As the number of colorful home improvement magazines and TV shows increases, so do home owner’s wishes for the fancy things they see.

            Examples:  Heavy terra-cotta floor tiles in the kitchen...fancy opaque glass walls...geometric fireplaces...trendy colors and finishes.

            While many of these features may look great for a few years, you’ll also have to live with them-since the expense of redoing what you have done will be higher in the future.

            Before you commit to the latest design fad or put a Jacuzzi in the family room, consider the long-term consequences.  Ask yourself if you will be comfortable with this new style for the next 20 years.  When it comes to resale, conservative, timeless work-such as elegant, functional spaces and general neutral colors in the kitchens and bathrooms- always holds up best.

            Mistake:  Assuming that you will pay what your neighbors did for the same work.  When homeowners go looking for architects, contractors, carpenters, electricians, etc. they usually call their friends for recommendations.  They also frequently ask what their friends paid for remodeling or renovation work that was done a few years ago.

            With those estimates in mind, they are often shocked when they hear what the work will cost today. In addition, the cost of lumber and concrete has soared in the last several years.  Be prepared to pay more.

            Mistake:  Not spending enough time hiring the right people.  Most home owners who set out to hire people to design or build for them wish the job were already finished.  It’s also natural to want your renovations completed shortly after you imagine them. But it’s important to be practical and take the project one step at a time.

            Once you’ve talked to a few architects and contractors, ask three of each for bids- no matter how inexpensive the project.  Of course the contractor’s bids are solicited after the architect completes documents for bidding.  The contractor will hire electricians, plumbers, etc.

            Ask each for three references, and be sure to contact all of them.  Key questions...

                        -Were you happy with the work and the working 


                        -How long did it take to complete the job?

                        -Was the job completed within the estimated time?

                        -Did the contractor ask for many change orders

                          that boosted the cost of the work well past the


                       -Did the architect handle the smaller details

                        (electrical, lighting, etc.)?

            Important:  Don’t automatically choose the lowest bid.  This is a major temptation, but beware- a low price may result in low-quality work, wither because the caliber of the person is low or because the person did not understand the actual scope of the work and bid too low.

            A bid is probably too low if it is very different from other quotes.  Most people who get three bids accept the middle one, it is reasonable.

            Exception:  If the three bids are vastly different-say, $20,000, $40,000 and $60,000.  In these cases, you’re probably not comparing similar types of work.

            Strategy: Eliminate much of this confusion by having each contractor bid after seeing a complete set of the construction documents prepared by the architect.

            Another mistake people make is hiring a design professional whose skills are not appropriate for your type of work.

            Example:  If you’re planning an addition to an contemporary territorial style house, you should find an architect who has done work in that style. Request photos of his work, or visit a home on which he has worked.

            Strategy:  To find someone with the right skills, ask owners of similar homes, or look in magazines.

            Mistake:  Not deciding on the details early enough.  Many delays are the fault of the contractor.  But some are caused by homeowners who haven’t selected fixtures, colors, etc.  Avoid delays by selecting your faucets, tiles and stones early and making sure everything the contractor needs is in its place.  Holding up a project for a few days because you have changed your mind about some element can add weeks to a timetable.

            Example:  The contractor may have budgeted only two months to complete your job, after which he must move onto another project.  A two-day delay may cause him to stop working on your house for several weeks.

            You may save money by ordering and picking up finish materials yourself.  Get a list of what you need from the contractor.  Bring samples home to make sure the new tiles work with the rest of the room. Ripping up newly laid tile costs time and money.

            Mistake:  Assuming you can live in your home while work is being done.  If possible, home owners should move out while extensive interior work is being done.  It’s not just a question of noise and workmen underfoot.  There will be dust, debris and furniture out of place.  There may even be hazardous materials around.

            Strategy:  Arrange alternate accommodations at a residence hotel, which offers lower weekly and monthly rates than commercial hotels...or sublet an apartment.  If you do continue to live your home, be willing to make certain sacrifices.

            Example:  Don’t make a fuss if you hate the music the workers play on the job.  You’ll have a happier crew that does better work.

            Mistake:  Not overseeing the work properly.  It’s important to keep the tabs on how the work is progressing.  It’s your house, and there is a certain joy in seeing your plans come to fruition.

            Avoid being bossy and looking over the contractor’s shoulder 10 times a day.  On the other hand, don’t be aloof or inaccessible.  If you’re not there to raise an important issue or answer questions,  the contractor may not bring it up or the project may be delayed.

            Strategy:  Check on the progress every day.  Raise any issues as soon as possible with the contractor.  If there are enormous conceptual issues involved, call the architect first and have him help you discuss matters with the contractor.  If you need to talk to the contractor about a serious problem, do it away from the crew so you don’t undermine his/her authority.  It’s also a problem if you and your spouse communicate different opinions and information to the contractor.  Couples should agree on their wants and needs in advance.

            Strategy:  Determine who will speak with the contractor and workers.  Generally, the same person should handle this task throughout the job.

            Whenever possible, hash out your and your spouse’s aesthetic disagreements without involving those who are working on your home.  If your spouse has a question that you can’t answer or are uncomfortable asking, both of you should sit down with the contractor and calmly go over the problem.



ScottsdaleFountain Hills Arizona

RE/MAX Sun Properties
16704 Ave. of the Fountains 101 • Fountain Hills, AZ 85268
Associate Broker • Cell 602-617-3245