7 Costly Home Improvement Mistakes to Avoid

  • By Jeremy Thompson
  • 01 Jul, 2016
53% of U.S. adults completed a home improvement project within the past 12 months according to Nielsen Scarborough. IBISWorld estimates home remodeling as a $52 billion market, growing 3.8% between 2009 and 2014. Remodeling activity is predicted to have year-over-year quarterly growth averaging 4.4% in 2016. But not all home improvements are solid investments, and […] The post 7 Costly Home Improvement Mistakes to Avoid appeared first on J. Thompson Builders.

Hiring a Contractor

Get quotes from and interview several contractors to make sure you choose one you trust and whose ideas aligns with your vision. Check their references and ask them about their credentials and licensing. Check the Better Business Bureau to find out if they’ve had complaints logged against them. Get all agreements in writing.

Return on Investment

If you plan to sell your home and recoup the money you invest in a home improvement project make sure the project offers a good return. While renovations can cost thousands of dollars, they generally won’t increase the value of the home by that much. Most buyers will pay more for a “visible” upgrade such as high-end appliances, but they won’t be willing to pay more for hidden upgrades such as new electrical wiring. The value a home improvement project retains at resale varies in each market. Remodeling Magazine offers a Cost vs Value report to illustrate the differences. For example, San Francisco averages greater than a 100% return on the suite of 27 projects Remodeling Magazine evaluates (a number unseen in any other market, but most likely due to the housing shortage); nothing in Des Moines, IA returns more than 71%. Real estate agents and contractors may be able to advise you on the potential return you’ll receive from a project.

Overimproving

Consider how your home stacks up to others in the neighborhood. If its market value is on the high end already improvements won’t increase its value much. A home’s value is usually dependent on and limited by the median price of the other homes in the neighborhood.

Cheap Materials, Being Frugal

The old adage “you get what you pay for” runs true in home improvement as well. Don’t cut corners by using cheap materials. Otherwise you may have to make expensive repairs down the road because you chose cheap over quality. The cost difference between many materials is minor, yet choosing higher quality materials (such as tile over vinyl) will set your home apart from the rest. And if you can’t afford the materials now, it’s better to wait until you can.

Changes

Once the project begins, it’s best to stick to the plan as much as possible. If you change your mind after a piece of the project is finished it can require tearing it out and starting over. Contractors may also charge change order fees anytime the plan is reworked.

Permits

Secure any necessary permits, and check on the requirements BEFORE starting a project. Permits are there to protect you, and to ensure your home is safe. Often inspections are required at the rough-in and finishing stages for many remodeling and renovation projects. If you don’t acquire the proper permits, it could result in fines and you may have to tear out any work completed. Contact your local city office to ask about permits, and make sure your contractor has the proper permits before beginning work.

Budget

Don’t set an unrealistic budget. You don’t want to run out of cash mid-project. Your project can get more expensive once it’s underway if you aren’t prepared for the costs. Get estimates from several different contractors so that you understand the project’s cost. Then add 10-20% to the total to have in reserve in case any issues arise.
Next Steps

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