Throughout my career in interior design, I’ve come across my fair share of remodeling projects over the years… Whether it’s a kitchen remodel, bathroom or full house remodeling – I’ve had the opportunity to work on them all! 

While for the most part, it’s a really exciting time for the homeowners, there are some mistakes I’ve seen happen over the course of my career when homeowners haven’t had the support from a professional. Even on a small consultancy basis.

So what are these common mistakes when undergoing a remodeling project?

Let’s take a closer look at the most common mistakes!


Labor Quotes Without a Design


One of the biggest and most common mistakes is to do with pricing the project. Or elements of the remodel. Typically you should expect projects to go above the quoted price – delays inevitably happen somewhere along the line or something pops up that requires more cash spent on it. I also often see homeowners get excited during the project and add on to the scope of work. New doors throughout the home? Sure! New baseboards on the entire first floor? Count me in! 

While you can expect some overspending on every project, we have actually seen projects, where labor is requested first typically, are 30-35% over the original bid. We have seen some projects go as high as 45% over!

To avoid this sort of overspend, you should get the project fully designed and detailed first. When a project is fully designed and detailed first the overspend is typically closer to the 12%-20% mark which is a substantial saving compared to 30-45% over the original bid.

When a project has been costed based on a detailed design with clear specifications from the outset, contractors and tradespeople can quote more accurately for the work. This also avoids any additional items added in the mid-project that send expenditure through the roof.

If everything is clearly set out from the beginning of a project, there will be no surprises.

Ensure everyone involved in the project understands the design and that it has been detailed before the work commences. This will avoid extra costs during the project construction phase.


A Budget Without Market Considerations


One of the biggest mistakes I have seen with remodeling projects is pulling numbers out of thin air to make the project budget. 

I’ve met many people over the years who have based their project budgets on what they’ve seen on HGTV, or simply what’s in their bank account at the time. While HGTV is great for showing the amazing transformations of spaces with their before and afters, they, unfortunately, miss out on the more realistic side of the projects and what actually happens during one.

I never advise anyone to spend more than what they’re comfortable with on a project, but it’s important to have realistic expectations as to how far your money will stretch. For example, custom cabinets with soft-close mechanisms will cost more than a kitchen from Ikea. And if you prefer the custom route for the cabinets, you may need to compromise somewhere else in the project to free up some extra cash for the luxury of custom cabinets if funding is limited. 

We help clients create project budgets and help them to spend their money wisely.

Make sure you have realistic expectations for your remodeling project. Check the going rates of the fixtures and labor in your area and get multiple quotes from tradespeople to better understand where your budget should be.


Not Hiring the Right People for the Project


Have you ever needed to fire a contractor during a project? I recently had a client who fired their contractor midway through their remodel – he simply wasn’t the right person for that particular project. Fortunately, this doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it’s likely to be because the person isn’t right for the job or hasn’t got adequate experience for the task at hand.

Make sure that the person you’re hiring has experience with the work they will be doing. Have they done it before? And perhaps have examples to share? Ask about it when they come to quote for the job.

If you’re having wallpaper installed, make sure that the installed is someone who is trained in the art of hanging wallpaper.

Another good aspect of tradespeople to keep in mind is, communication – have they been clear with communicating with you so far and answering messages promptly? And punctuality… Were they early or late to your initial meeting? Perhaps there was a good reason for their lateness but look for those who arrive on time.

Always do your research with who you hire to do certain areas of the project. Has your plumber had experience installing wall-mounted faucets? Has your wallpaper installer hung complicated patterned wallpaper before? It’s so important to ensure that they have been properly trained in their area of expertise.


Coming soon to the blog – a series on When to Fire a Contractor – sharing my professional experience of when to fire a contractor from a project!

Have you come across these mistakes before? Perhaps you’ve made them in the past but have overcome them recently? I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments section below!

As always, if you need a hand or a second opinion on your project, please get in touch! We love virtual consultations and are here to help! If you want to learn about more design mistakes, check out the Home Arise feature where we weighed in with several other designers!