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5 tips to avoiding costly remodeling mistakes
After: This addition was the second phase of a home remodel. - photo by Annie Schwemmer and Ann Robinson
Last week, we started a discussion on common remodeling mistakes. This week we will continue by highlighting some additional common remodeling mistakes that impact a projects budget and how much a home remodel actually costs.

Remodeling represents a substantial investment of time and energy, so no one wants it to cost more than it has to. Most people experience a major remodel only once or twice in their lifetime, so there isnt much room for trial and error. Here are some of the more common costly mistakes to try to avoid.

1. Doing projects out of sequence

There is nothing more costly for a remodeling project than doing the same project twice due to poor planning and improper project sequencing. Dont redo the landscaping and add a deck when you are planning an addition next year. Usually people do projects as they can afford them maybe windows this year and new deck next year. There is nothing wrong with this idea as long as you have a master plan you are following.

It is frustrating when clients come to us wanting a home remodel only to find out they just replaced all their windows. Windows have a huge impact on the architectural design of a house. Working around the new windows is going to limit the design potential of the home. Often clients end up having to pay to remove and re-install or re-order some of the windows, and some end up having to buy all new windows again to match the style of their dream home.

2. Blowing the budget

The client who stays within a budget is the client who plans ahead. The more detailed the project plans are, the more accurate the bids and the more realistic the budget. Making all the selections of finishes and equipment prior to commencing construction will allow you to get the big picture and consider the complete cost of the project. In addition, we recommend reserving 5 to 10 percent of the proposed budget as a contingency for the unexpected challenges of a remodeling project. Architects and engineers do the best they can to anticipate potential issues, but it is only when you cut into the walls, floors and ceiling that you know the whole story.

3. Gutting too soon

We cringe when we see someone decide they want to remodel and start tearing down walls without a plan. First, the planning stage takes months. It will likely be three to six months from initial project inception before permits are secured and construction can begin. If you are overly excited about beginning the project, you may end up living in a construction zone far longer than you need to or be faced with rebuilding walls you could have saved when you took a sledgehammer to your house without a plan.

4. Overbuilding for the neighborhood

Overbuilding occurs when homeowners sink too much money into a house when either the market or the location (or both) cannot support the extent of the remodeling project. In an attempt to recapture their remodeling costs when selling, homeowners then price themselves out of their market.

While fewer people these days are remodeling for a quick resale, you still need to think about how your remodeling choices will affect the future resale potential of your property.

It is best to consult a real estate agent in the planning stage of your remodel to ask three questions:

What realistic value would the Realtor place on your house "as is"?

What is the price range of homes that are selling in your area?

In the Realtor's opinion, what home improvements will most improve your home's resale value?

5. Not staying involved in the process

The homeowner is the most integral part of a remodeling team. It is important to stay involved throughout the project. If you arent living in the house during construction, we recommend visiting your project almost every day. Contractors questions need to be answered as quickly as possible, and errors can be nipped in the bud if you are paying attention. Sometimes, interesting design opportunities are revealed, especially during the framing phase. If you dont feel comfortable managing this aspect of the project, keep your architect involved during the construction phase.

Good luck and remember, the more you plan and prepare for your remodel, the more likely you will be to avoid these costly mistakes.
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