Planning on remodeling your home this year? If so, you probably have some ideas on where you’d like to start: that outdated kitchen, that bathroom that belongs in the 80s, or that living room that feels out-of-place. Yet, for most homeowners staring down the start of a home remodel, putting together an actual priority list of projects can be difficult. In this article, we’ll review four big mistakes that many homeowners make when starting a home remodeling project, as well as different ways of tackling these projects for better results.
Mistake #1: Ignoring the necessities
Every home remodeling project falls into one of two categories: necessities and upgrades. Necessities are items that need to be replaced. This includes your home’s roof, an aging air conditioner or furnace, or a malfunctioning garage door. Not only will these items directly impact your own ability to live in the home, but they’ll have a profound, negative impact on the value of your home if not fixed. Upgrades, in contrast, are projects that will increase your home’s value, but are a lower priority: installing new kitchen countertops, knocking out that interior wall, or redesigning the backyard.
Too many homeowners neglect the necessity items in favor of the upgrades. This is a mistake: an upgraded kitchen might make your home more appealing to buyers, but a leaking roof is going to kill most sales, in addition to causing a ton of other damage. Whether you need a new roof or repairs to your existing one, talk with them about the best-available roofing materials to match your neighborhood’s aesthetic.
You’ll ultimately be glad you chose to focus on the most-important aspects of your home first before diving into other changes.
Mistake #2: Passing on high-ROI projects
Once you’ve knocked out the necessary projects, you can get to the fun part: upgrading your home. Here, too, you’ll want to establish a priority—unless you have an infinite budget (and most homeowners don’t), you’ll need to pick and choose what to work on. This is where return-on-investment (ROI) comes into play. Generally, you’ll want to start by spending in areas where you’re most likely to get money back when you sell your home. Typical high-ROI projects include kitchen and bathroom remodels, home exterior improvements, and even some of the aforementioned necessity projects like roofing and garage door repairs.
The mistake most homeowners make is starting with the project they feel is most necessary. This is fine if you’re planning on staying in your home for the long-term, but not always the best strategy if there’s the potential of moving in the next 5 years. Yes, you’ve hated that fireplace since you bought the place, but the money spent changing out the surrounding tile might be better spent putting new countertops and cabinets into your kitchen.
We listed some projects above that generally have a good ROI. However, every real estate market is different, and you’ll want to talk with a local realtor or home design expert about what others in the market and even your neighborhood is doing. They’ll be able to give you a better estimate of what kind of bump you can expect from various upgrades.
Mistake #3: Overlooking the small things
Yes, we just said to focus on the high-ROI projects. But that doesn’t mean you should completely ignore the smaller “quick wins” when upgrading your home. These relatively inexpensive upgrades may not make-or-break your home remodel or cause your home’s value to skyrocket, but they can make your home a lot more comfortable and boost its curb appeal.
- Lighting: Take the natural and artificial lighting of your home into account. You’d be surprised just how much our perception of a space is influenced by light. At the inexpensive end, add more lighting fixtures to brighten up that kitchen and shine a literal spotlight on new cabinets and countertops. A more-involved project is a skylight installation, but the infusion of natural light can be a game-changer for an otherwise dark kitchen.
- Appliances: If you have older appliances in your kitchen, you might want to swap those out for new appliances. This will likely be a small percentage of your overall kitchen investment, but it’s a necessary part of completing the space.
- Paint: Top off your home remodel with a fresh coat of interior paint. Home upgrades don’t come much cheaper than this, and you’ll be glad you took the time to spruce up your walls.
Mistake #4: Hiring the wrong people
Even handy homeowners typically need help from experts when remodeling their home. Knocking out a wall for your “open kitchen” concept? You’ll need a plumber to move the sink. Adding recessed lighting in the ceiling of your living room? You’ll have to bring in an electrician. This goes without saying, but the roofing repairs we mentioned either should only be done by a licensed, experienced roofer carrying proper insurance.
You don’t have to go it alone. Start by getting a top roofing company to check on the state of your roof. Get recommendations from your friends and neighbors about who they’ve worked with and found to be honest and reliable. By taking the time to search for the right experts, you can prevent major problems with your home remodel and get the project completed all that much sooner.
One of the biggest mistake homeowners make is hiring the wrong people. With non-professionals, you’re taking a big risk that something might go wrong. Maybe it’s something benign as ever-so-slightly crooked tile in the bathroom—obnoxious and sloppy, but not as dangerous as an “electrician” who doesn’t know what they’re doing. If you want your home remodel done right and everything that entails—the enjoyment of your home, boosted home value, etc.—you’ll need to hire professionals.