You’ve got your remodel scheduled right down to the housewarming. You’ve even built in time for any unexpected disasters lurking in your walls. But what about potential delays you, as the homeowner, might cause because you don’t know you’re screwing up?
It’s that old axiom: You don’t know what you don’t know.
Here’s a list of time-sucking mistakes homeowners often make (so you don’t have to).
Designing Before Budgeting
You think you can afford that luxurious marble countertop — until you talk to the fabricator. It’s $2,000 over budget, and there’s no room to squeeze. If you’re already past the design phase, that’s a brutal discovery requiring a serious re-think — and extra time you don’t have at this stage of the game.
“There are an infinite number of design possibilities, but as soon as you pick a budget, seven-eighths are gone,” says Charles Rinek, who owns a remodeling and custom construction firm in Palm Coast, Fla. “Concentrate on the eighth that is appropriate with your budget.”
Know your budget. Then follow your dreams.
Even the design-challenged can create a stunning kitchen with Pinterest on their side. But the breadth of options might create dismay — and delay — if you keep finding a better backsplash.
“Over-analysis becomes paralysis,” says Annmarie Bhola, who co-owned a remodeling company. “Now you spend all this time watching shows, and looking through Pinterest, and before you know it, oh my gosh, now I have all this data. Which should I choose? Should I go with light or dark?”
And then, the paint color isn’t right. So now you’ve got to rethink your complete color scheme.
Don’t be that homeowner. Once your design is finalized and construction is under way, consider your choices set in stone, or you might find yourself days, even weeks behind schedule when workers are waiting on you to decide.
Scheduling Work Before Materials Are On Site
You might have allotted enough time for each step — but if what you need isn’t there when you need it, all the scheduling in the world isn’t going to make up for that lost time.
Before scheduling workers to install your new cabinets and appliances, make sure the materials will be there for them. Don’t just allocate installation time; know how long it will take to ship your farmhouse sink. (Another related point: Know your contractor’s schedule, too, so you won’t be dismayed when he can’t come the day your cabinets arrive.)
Bhola says her common practice is to order everything ahead of time, to know the delivery dates, then to schedule contractors to start after that date.
Time is almost always the reason why kitchen remodeling mistakes happen.
Evan Harris, San Diego real estate investor
Choosing to Live in the Mess
Remodeling is messy — dust everywhere, your pots and pans scattered, and living spaces become storage spaces.
No one expects you to be Martha in the midst of a home makeover, but too much disorganization will hog your time because you can’t find anything. Next thing you know, you’re a day behind because you couldn’t find the installation guide for the dishwasher.
As part of your project plan, include a strategy for all the stuff that needs a new home while construction is happening. And be sure to plan time to move it all so a) you don’t end up dumping everything in the nearest clear spot, or b) delaying the start of demolition, which means you’ll be starting out with a #fail.
Not Paying Attention to Permits
Your Uncle Joe swore he didn’t pull a permit for his kitchen remodel, and everything turned out fine. But if an inspector raises an eyebrow on a drive around the ‘hood, skipping this essential step could cost you months of inspections and repairs.
Give your local building department a heads-up. Plus, permits ensure your renovation is to code, catching any dangerous (or deadly) errors, like faulty outlets and improper plumbing.
Just make sure to budget time for the inspection.
“You can’t move forward with anything until it’s been inspected,” Rinek says. “God forbid he doesn’t show up until 4 p.m. and he doesn’t like your work. All that time adds up.”
Not Doing a Test Run on Materials
That soft teal was sure to make your subway tile pop. Until it didn’t. Give every paint, tile, and wood type a test run, otherwise, you might find yourself not liking the results, and then find yourself falling behind schedule while you pick the replacements.
For paint, Harris recommends covering a few inexpensive canvases in your favorite colors and leaving them in the room for a few days to help you decide. Do this long before workers come on site. As for cabinets, he suggests you “get a whole door.” You can’t see what a cabinet “really looks like from a three-by-three sample.”
A Too-Rigid Schedule
It might seem counterintuitive, but sometimes, your best choice is to just suck it up and cause a delay — especially if you don’t want regrets later.
“Time is almost always the reason why kitchen remodeling mistakes happen,” says Evan Harris, a San Diego real estate investor.
If you do start falling behind schedule because of unexpected surprises (darn carpenter bees — on top of hurricane weather, really?!), you might be tempted to try and make up the time.
But there’s where the danger lies, says Harris. That’s when you end up with sloppy work that may not stand the test of time: cabinets that aren’t level, a floor that wasn’t allowed to dry completely between coats and loses its luster too soon, a sloppy paint job. Cue future problems and expenses.
His advice: Budget even more time than you think you need for every step — and you might even finish early, in plenty of time to plan your housewarming.