Mistakes make us great! That’s what my son learned in preschool and it is true. But when it comes to home renovation, mistakes can cost money and time. Read the 5 mistakes we made during our renovation and hopefully, you will save yourself some heartache.
If you’ve read some of my previous posts, you know that we live in a 1929 Tudor Revival style home and that I love all things vintage, including old homes.
Old homes are very romantic to me. I know that isn’t everyone’s opinion.
Old homes, and homes in general require a lot of upkeep.
When we were house hunting I fantasized about finding a house with charming original details but with all of the infrastructure updated. Little did I know how much of a unicorn I was wishing for ha ha.
What we actually got is the total opposite- a house with original infrastructure (knob and tube plus cast iron plumbing) and much of the charm removed. Cue sad trombone.
Despite the reality of the house, we saw the potential and proceeded to take on our first renovation.
Did it go smoothly? Not at all.
Did we make mistakes? Absolutely!
Let’s reminisce about those mistakes shall we?
#5 Not checking salvage yards first.
So we did check some salvage yards for certain pieces, but I wasn’t always persistent.
I would have liked to have found some tile from the 20s or 30s for the fireplace. Since we had extra from other rooms, we just used that to save some money.
To be more period correct, hunting down salvage would have been the way to go.
Places like Habitat for Humanity have both new and vintage pieces. Check if your city has independent shops too.
#4 Not researching appliances.
When picking appliances, I think we had decision fatigue. We had our baby boy in tow and only looked at two stores.
The washing machine we chose had to be repaired multiple times in the first two years. I swear to my husband that our next washing machine will be simple; no electronic bells and whistles.
The freezer portion of our refrigerator also had issues.
Knock on wood- both are working fine now but I didn’t expect brand new appliances to have any issues so soon.
#3 Forgetting details.
When it came to electrical work we assumed the contractor would read our mind and use the type of switches we wanted and place them where we envisioned.
You know the old adage about assumptions. We do too and we should have known better.
We should have done a walk through and made sure we were all on the same page.
#2 Not understanding the lingo.
This one vies for first place. It really could be a tie.
I took on the task of hiring a paint contractor for some interior work.
I was so focused on finding a company that had experience with older homes that I overlooked other aspects.
Have you heard of time and material quotes versus fixed bids? I had not and neither my husband nor I fully understood the difference. This must sound like a terrible rookie mistake to a seasoned home reno vets.
They provided a ballpark figure, which sounded reasonable and we didn’t expect that the job would incur much more expense.
The lead person didn’t do any check in about pricing until the end of the project. When they finally did, we realized the error of our choice. The price had shot up significantly!
They also used the incorrect color in one space. This wouldn’t have been terrible if it was isolated, but combined with all the other things, it’s one more thing that irked us.
When we went over the bill they left on line items that we had actually nixed. It was just not a pleasant experience.
What is time and material billing? Time and material pricing is where the cost of the project is based on the hours of labor completed plus the cost of materials used for the project.
If you go with a company that bills this way, make sure the contract includes verbiage to ensure budget check ins and perhaps a line or two about work stopping and client notification if the overage is a certain amount of money.
What is a fixed bid contract? A fixed bid contract is a flat amount no matter how many hours are worked. The amount of hours can be spread out in different amounts of time.
#1 Not spending enough time in the house.
Both asbestos and lead were found in the living room, dining room and kitchen. We opted to hire a professional removal company before starting any renovation work. This meant we couldn’t live in the house.
We were living with family while this all took place and we tried to get things done quickly.
Ideally we would have liked to spend more time in the house and consider how daily routines would affect things from lay out to light switch placement.
Had we hired a designer with a whole team of project manager, assistants etc some of the headaches may have been prevented. However, going the DIY route was necessary for our budget and allowed us to work at our own pace.
Have you done a home renovation? What are your major lessons learned? Drop me a line in the comments!
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