Five Costly Home Improvement Errors to Avoid

May 23, 2018
Chicago, Illinois
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Unless your home renovation plan consists entirely of small, cosmetic updates, odds are that you’ll plunk down quite a bit for the remodel you envision. Home improvement carries high financial stakes, so the last thing you want to inflict is an unforced error that further adds to the final price.

Unfortunately, this is an all-too-common occurrence for those either revamping their home for the first time, or those that let their enthusiasm and ambition override an organized budget and project plan. Here are just a few tips to help you avoid some of the most expensive missteps in home remodeling.


(Over) Improving Your Home

Before you break ground on any new project, it’s important to step back and assess a few basic factors that are not immediately obvious. One of these is the estimated value of the homes in your neighborhood, and more specifically, how those values compare with that of your property. If your property value is just above (or below) the median figure, some savvy updates, especially in the bathroom or kitchen, can be enough to make your home the area’s hottest commodity.

This goes both ways, though, since over-improving your home can quickly backfire because you’re improving your property so much that it becomes too expensive for most buyers. Over-improvement is hard to gauge, but a good question to ask yourself is whether the improvements you’ve selected enhance your home’s appeal universally, or simply in your eyes.

You may have a great above-ground hot tub that could really use a screened enclosure, but that doesn’t mean those that live there after you will have the same need. If an embarrassment of amenities keeps your home on the market for longer than you anticipate, it will be harder to claim the highest recoup rate for your renovations.


Overlooking Zoning Regulations

This one is a bit of a delayed landmine for your project, because you may not realize you’ve committed a zoning violation until you’re hit with a fee. That is, of course, unless you check independently before commissioning new construction work. This tip is more for those looking to install a new home addition, and because that’s the case, it becomes crucial bit of advice to follow. The last thing any homeowner wants after coordinating a lengthy sunroom installation is to discover that a portion of it overlaps a neighboring zone, leaving them subject to a host of municipal fees. Most building contractors will be familiar with their region’s zoning regulations and permitting processes, and will help you forecast their effect on your project. Less-reputable renovators, however, may conveniently overlook these smaller infractions in order to save a large sale.


Inexact Project Plans

In home improvement, as with all things, the devil is in the details. Imprecise calculation of needed products and materials can swiftly drive up renovation costs, either because you’ve ordered too many items or too few. This is especially important if you’re remodeling a sprawling property with multiple floors, a large roof, and a laundry list of interior and exterior improvements.


Hiring a Company That Subcontracts, But Doesn’t Screen, Employees

Craftsmanship and expertise are words thrown around in every industry, but the home remodeling sector is where their accuracy matters the most because you’re quite literally living with the results. If you hire a company that subcontracts, there’s no guarantee that the people working in your home will adhere to (or even be aware of) the contracting company’s quality assurance standards.

Also, if the company doesn’t have its workers undergo drug and background screening, it could result in either a disastrous on-site accident or potentially unsafe living conditions once the work is complete. It’s also helpful to confirm whether your home contractor and its technicians are insured so you’re not held liable for any work accidents on your property.


Forgetting to Adjust Property Insurance Limits

Now that you’ve made the home renovations you’ve always dreamed of, it’s time to protect them. Many homeowners are convinced to remodel because of the promised uptick in home value, but if you’re property insurance limits aren’t raised to accommodate for the new appraisal value, you could end up taking a steep financial loss if any of those fixtures are damaged or destroyed. Without a commensurate insurance payout, you might have to pay for the same improvements twice, thus ensuring that you never recoup their full value.


Serve Your Home Without Sacrificing Your Wallet

It seems like an impossible proposition; after all, if you want to make an omelet, you have to break a few eggs, right? With most home improvement projects, costliness is an unavoidable drawback, but what’s worse is adding fees and unanticipated expenses to an already expensive final bill due to an overabundance of ambition and a lack of tangible planning.

As you organize your next home improvement project, whether it’s a full-scale exterior overhaul or a smaller, functional update, like installing shower enclosures in multiple bathrooms, keep the errors above in mind, and remember: home renovation isn’t an everyday undertaking, so take the necessary time to plan out every single detail.

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