Set your home improvement project up for success by avoiding these common mistakes.

The best moment of any home improvement project is the big reveal at the end. After all that work, time, and inconvenience, you finally get to see the beautiful outcome of your patience.

But that moment is hardly a magical one if you’re disappointed with the results. Unfortunately, people make the same five mistakes over and over when planning a home improvement project. And in the end, they pay for it.

Here are five missteps to avoid when planning your own improvements:

Mistake #1: Hiring a handyman instead of a licensed contractor.

A handyman makes for a charming sitcom character. But when you’re hiring someone for your own home, you’re better off with a licensed contractor. That license guarantees a certain level of experience and qualification, which can protect you from problems and disappointment. When you’re choosing a contractor, always ask about a license.

Mistake #2: Choosing a family friend as your contractor.

It’s tempting to choose someone you already know to lead your home improvement project. But there are significant downsides to relying on a friend or family member. 

It can be much harder to push back if you’re not happy with their work or a recommendation they made. And if the project starts running behind, it can be awkward to confront them about the delays. The best way to protect your relationship is to just hire a general contractor based on recommendations from friends.

Mistake #3: Hiring a contractor based on price alone.

There are smart ways to save money on a home improvement project. But when it comes to general contractors, you get what you pay for. 

In general, cheap contractors have far less experience, which can turn into mistakes and disappointments. Plus, inexperienced contractors have fewer relationships with great subcontractors. You can’t count on getting the best of the best for every step of the project.

If you choose your contractor based on the price tag alone, you’re more likely to be disappointed with their work. So do your research and find someone trustworthy with experience, knowledge, and good references. It’s a worthwhile investment.

Mistake #4: Not getting a written contract.

This is an incredibly common mistake, especially among people hiring a home improvement contractor for the first time. If you get started on a project with just a handshake, there’s a lot of room for things to fall apart. There’s no way to settle disagreements, and you can end up with something totally different than you asked for.

A contract is a legal document that clearly outlines the scope of work, price, and payment schedule. The contract holds both parties accountable, so it’s in both your and your contractor’s best interests to have one. You can always hire an attorney to help draft one. But a good contractor will usually have a template you can start with.

Mistake #5: Thinking you can do it yourself.

Between Pinterest, home improvement shows, and YouTube, the DIY spirit has never been stronger. And while there are many projects you truly can do yourself, it’s vital to know your own limits. It’s one thing to paint your own bedroom. It’s quite another to tinker with your own plumbing.

You need to be extremely honest with yourself about what you can do, for two big reasons:

    • Safety. There’s virtually no limit to the dangers of excess boldness when you’re striving to DIY. You could fall off a ladder, hurt someone with a power saw, or touch the wrong wire while doing electrical work. Now is not the time to choose bravery over safety.

Set yourself up for a successful home improvement project.

Protect the magic of your big reveal by making smart choices every step of the way. Do your research, hire a professional, and get a contract. Your good decisions will make the final product much, much sweeter.

Need some help finding a contractor? The team at THI can help >