23 Home Remodeling Projects That Definitely Won’t End Well
Don't start something you can't finish.
There’s nothing like breathing new life into your home. But, despite how easy those folks on HGTV make it look, most remodeling projects are massive undertakings. Thousands of homeowners end the renovation process frustrated and sometimes, without finishing what they set out to do. While the success of your remodel ultimately rests on the effort you put into it, there are some hard and fast rules about what not to do. If you’re considering making changes to your home, be sure to avoid the following bad remodeling ideas that can cost you time, your sanity, and a whole lot of money.
DIY metal roofing.
In addition to being time-consuming and requiring special skills, installing metal roofing may also warrant specialized tools. It’s best to leave this one to the experts.
“I have countless times been contacted by homeowners who purchased metal roofing materials, started the job, and decided they were in way over their heads and needed professional help,” says Todd Miller, president of Isaiah Industries, a manufacturer of metal roofing materials.
Miller adds that there can be confusion as to what needs to be ordered, “making you vulnerable to expensive small orders to finish up the project.” If you are intent on doing it yourself, Miller recommends remaining in close consultation with your local supplier, who can serve as a guide. “Even then, expect a lot of hours of very hard work,” he says.
DIY siding installation.
Though we applaud your confidence, you likely are not as prepared as you think to install siding. The process is time-consuming, costly, and requires a high level of precision.
“One home remodeling project that homeowners should forego attempting is siding installation,” says Andy Lindus, chief operating officer of Lindus Construction. “The tools required for siding installation are much more comprehensive than what most homeowners already have in their possession.”
Even scarier, incorrect installation may void your manufacturer’s warranty should the product fall apart or get ruined.
Projects without proper understanding of different roles.
A crucial factor in a successful remodel is knowing whose job is what. “The projects that go wrong from the get-go are those DIY projects where the homeowner does not have full comprehension of who does what in the design process,” says Gail Green, founder of Gail Green Interiors. “For instance, people often hire contractors to do an architect’s job or they design a space themselves.”
Needless to say, everything runs more smoothly when people stay in their lane.
DIY hardwood flooring installation or refinishing.
“There is one area that should always be left alone: hardwood flooring,” says Cristina Miguélez, remodeling specialist at home renovation website Fixr.
The fact is, there are so many variables when it comes to hardwood that only a professional can truly ensure a job well done. “If you don’t know how to to dry fit and layout an irregular material, your floor will end up wavy-looking with some gaps in it. Or it may swell and warp over time,” she warns.
Projects without a thoroughly-vetted contractor.
When it comes to remodeling, choosing the correct contractor is crucial, says Jody Costello, the founder of home renovation advice website Contractors From Hell. And to do so, you must go through a contractor’s relevant history.
“For example, thoroughly vetting a contractor requires a background check that will uncover any related lawsuits, complaints, their mechanics’ lien history with prior clients, credit outstanding with suppliers, and a license check,” Costello says.
In addition, it’s smart to arm oneself with knowledge of the legal protections available to homeowners in these sorts of dealings. “Every homeowner needs to educate themselves on the types of legal documents they should use to protect themselves,” Costello explains.
Projects done without weighing your options.
You don’t want to begin a home remodel by overpaying for expertise. Avoid this early mistake by bidding contractors against one another.
“Getting at least two or three quotes from different qualified contractors gives you the ability to assess the market pricing for your neighborhood,” explains John Bodrozic, co-founder of the home remodeling platform HomeZada. Depending upon their individual work volumes and desire to win the project, there can be “big diversity in pricing.”
Projects started on a whim.
Without upfront planning, far too many homeowners end up spending more than they’d like… or can afford.
“Most homeowners do not do enough research on the different brands and product types to assess the combination of what they like with what they can afford,” says Bodrozic.
Neglecting to consider drastic price differentials between brands and material can wreak havoc on a budget.
Projects that don’t consider hazardous material.
All too often when remodeling a home, people can inadvertently expose themselves to poisonous substances. “Without proper diligence, it can be easy to create a hazardous environment,” warns Emily Walsh, community outreach director at Mesothelioma.
One example is lead, since it was commonly used in paint in homes built before 1940. Also, homes built before 1980 may have asbestos in floor tiles, ceiling tiles, roof shingles, siding, and insulation. Once asbestos becomes airborne—as in, once you rip up the materials that contain it—it’s extremely hazardous. Walsh notes that “asbestos should only be handled by professionals.”
She also recommends sealing up concrete in the basement or attic during a remodel to avoid radon poisoning, a gas that rises from soil and can cause lung cancer.
Replacing fixtures without changing plumbing.
Many people don’t realize that different fixtures require different plumbing. “This is all too common, especially when redesigning the shower space,” says realtor Ian Gordon of Get Happy at Home.
For example, “rain showers are very popular right now, but require different plumbing than what most older showers already have,” he says.
Removing a bathtub.
Many people don’t use their bathtubs and therefore, decide to remove it to create more space. However, Gordon cautions against doing so because there are often potential buyers who “absolutely need a bathtub” for young children.
When you go to sell your home in the future, the lack of a bathtub could become a sticking point. Gordon recommends leaving at least one tub in the house to avoid that problem.
Projects done cheaply.
There’s no shame in trying to get the most bang for your buck during a home remodel. After all, they can get very expensive.
However, once you start compromising on quality in order to a stretch a budget, that’s a sign you should put off the remodel until you’ve saved up a bit more. After all, you get what you pay for, and nobody should spend hours remodeling their home only to have it fall apart at the seams soon afterwards.
Projects without blueprints.
You can wing plenty of things in life, but home remodeling is not one of those things.
Precision is key when it comes to renovation. An extra half-inch here or there can prove devastating to your design plans, making it crucial to lay out the entire makeover beforehand.
Projects that are inconsistent.
When remodeling, it’s important to keep things consistent with the style of your home, says Gordon.
“We coach homeowners to not put a really modern kitchen in an old Tudor home unless they are tying the modern feel in throughout the rest of the home,” he explains.
Wrong cabinet choices.
“We see this all the time” says Gordon. Sadly, most homeowners don’t recognize how much of an effect this one bad choice can have on the rest of the remodel. “Whether they are cheap, poorly constructed, or even a weird color, they will stand out in a bad way,” he explains.
While it’s tempting to build yourself cabinets that are suited perfectly to your needs—like a specialty nook for your espresso maker—it’s generally a bad idea.
After all, your needs can change quicker and more easily than your cabinets can. Don’t get stuck with an odd drawer that no one knows what to do with 10 years down the line.
Projects that involve improper ladder use.
Safety is crucial when it comes to ladders, says Melanie Johnson, marketing manager for Fantastic Services Group. “Statistics show that around half of the domestic accidents in the last decade have ladders involved in them,” she explains.
To avoid becoming a statistic and hurting yourself, make sure your ladder is firmly set on a smooth surface that has a bit of friction.
Also, double check to make sure your ladder doesn’t have any loose steps on it. It’s safe to say, any project that ends in a hospital visit has not gone well.
Projects that aren’t consistent with the neighborhood.
Even the most tasteful renovation can come off looking odd if it isn’t in the right surroundings. Before remodeling, make sure to check out whether the planned work fits in with the rest of the neighborhood.
If your home is likely to stick out like a sore thumb as a result of your renovation, go back to the drawing board.
Additions that sacrifice property for square footage.
Every home expansion eats into your outdoor space in one way or another. Too many homeowners fail to realize this and regret their addition after they can no longer host their yearly BBQ.
Always weigh the pros and cons before doing an expansion. Your resale value may not go up all that much, and potential buyers won’t love the lack of green space.
Projects that follow trends.
It’s never good when someone can enter your kitchen and know the exact year it was designer. But if you stick to the new trends that invade the world of home renovation year after year, that’s bound to happen.
It’s best to focus on timeless design when it comes to your home. The fact is, you’re going to be stuck with whatever you choose for a lot longer than one season. So make sure the look is designed to go the distance.
Projects that are too personalized.
When it comes to a renovation, you might think you want something unique to you. But if it’s too specific, think again.
You can add your own style and flair with decorations instead of doing something permanent like built-in furniture or an aquarium that can turn potential buyers off when you go to sell your home.
Projects involving materials you never saw samples of.
Though looking through a catalog of options is a good first step, it can not be the first and last one. Don’t purchase materials—especially cabinets and countertops—without feeling or seeing a small sample first. Things can look and feel very different in person.
Projects you don’t oversee.
Home remodeling can be noisy and dirty, and you may even need to move out for a bit. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be checking in.
As much as you might want to avoid your home while it’s in the process of being redone, missing out on the crucial moments can lead to someone else making decisions for you. So make sure you’re there every step of the way.
Projects without contingency funds.
No matter how organized you are and the amount of research you do, things are bound to go wrong in the course of a remodel. Therefore, it’s important to have a small contingency fund for when they do.
Don’t get into a situation where you’re unable to finish the work because of unforeseen costs. And now that you know what to avoid, check out these 40 Genius Ways to Increase Your Home’s Value.
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