Common causes of home renovation heartache—and how you can avoid them.

Home improvement projects of any scale can be exciting and invigorating for a homeowner. The fun of novelty, the relief of finally tackling that room—it’s bound to give anyone a thrill.

However, home improvement projects also come with risks. Any project, especially a complex one, can cause problems for the homeowner.

Here are five common causes of home renovation problems, along with our tips for preventing them.

Not enough budget.

Home improvement projects at any scale cost money. In a perfect world, every family would take the time to plan out the project and save up what they need. But many homeowners get caught up in the excitement and get started without enough money set aside.

Dealing with a cash shortage halfway through a project can be incredibly stressful and disheartening. It can lead to several unfortunate outcomes:

  • The family runs out of money and has to halve or halt the project.
  • The family has to take drastic measures to get the money, such as a high-interest loan.

THI Tip: Unless your home needs emergency repairs, it’s always better to put off a project until you have the money you need. Talk to a contractor up front and get a few quotes so you can give yourself a savings target. Then work with your family to make a plan.

Read our guide to financing your home improvement project > 

Opting for cheap materials.

In any context, there is almost always a cheaper option available. In the world of home improvement, choosing it over and over can cause problems. Inexpensive home improvement products are often poorly made and don’t last as long as quality materials. Even if everything goes smoothly during renovations, the family can deal with frustration down the road. They may end up paying for yet another round of renovations much sooner than expected.

THI Tip: Ask your contractor for their honest input on materials. You don’t always have to opt for the most luxurious, expensive option available, but quality is worth paying for. Ask your contractor to walk you through your options, including price, pros, and cons. Then you can make an informed decision and save yourself from heartache.

Choosing contractors without doing research.

There are plenty of excellent contractors out there—along with a lot of really bad ones. It can be tough to spot the difference at a glance. But an inexperienced contractor can wreak havoc on a long-awaited project. Some homeowners end up paying a second time for someone better to come in and redo the work.

THI Tip: Never hire a contractor at random. Ask friends, family, neighbors, and colleagues for recommendations. Ask every contractor you talk to for references, read their reviews, and look at pictures of their past work. It’s a little tedious, but finding a truly excellent contractor is worth it.

Not doing the prep work.

Even a homeowner who hires out every single task of a home renovation is responsible for getting the house ready.

Imagine this scenario: A family is getting their windows replaced. They’ve chosen the windows and confirmed the date with their contractor. When the contractor arrives… the house is not ready. The family hasn’t moved any furniture or figured out how to keep their dog and curious toddler out of the way. The contractor can’t even get started.

It takes three hours to move the furniture, put away valuable items, and put down drop clothes for the workers’ boots. In the end, they don’t have time to complete the project. Because the contractor is so busy, the family has to wait several more months to schedule another day. They also have to pay extra for that second day, and the time spent moving all that furniture.

A similar version of this scenario is possible with virtually any home improvement project. Lack of prep can slow down the entire process and lead to extra costs.

THI Tip: Ask your contractor what they need from you—and don’t wait until the last minute. Make a plan ahead of time to get everything done so your contractor can dive right in.

Attempting to DIY a home renovation project that you’re not qualified for.

YouTube, Instagram, and other corners of the internet make it look all too easy to do it yourself (DIY). And in some cases, the DIY route really is a great option! If you have the right skills, you can save a lot of money. Paint, wallpaper, and other projects can be mastered fairly easily, and many people find them fun.

On the flip side, plumbing, electrical work, tile, and drywall are far beyond the skill level of most average homeowners. Far too many homeowners take on DIY projects without having a clue what they’re doing. When people attempt projects outside the scope of their abilities, it can be disastrous.

At best, the results are shoddy and unattractive. The family may decide to live with it—or end up paying for a professional to fix it anyway. At worst, these DIY projects can be downright dangerous. Plumbing disasters can flood homes, and electrical shocks can be fatal. 

THI Tip: If you are truly confident you can do something yourself, then go for it. Just be honest with yourself. It can be hard to admit that something is beyond your abilities. But a little humility is a small price to pay in exchange for safe and successful home renovation projects.

Whether you’re just dreaming about a renovation or starting to think about contractors, THI is here to help. Get in touch with a member of our team >