Common Home Remodeling Mistakes to Avoid

You may be preparing to move. Or perhaps you’d like to stay put for years to come.

Either way, a home remodel can help you achieve your goals. 

But if you’re considering a renovation, it pays to do some planning first. A little due diligence today may mean fewer expensive and time-consuming headaches later. For example, you’ll want to look into which home improvements deliver the best return on investment.

We’ve put together a list of six common remodeling mistakes you’ll want to watch out for.

#1: Putting Style over Substance

A remodel should give you a home that’s both more functional and more beautiful. Talk to your contractor and a professional designer about the best ways to bring your vision to life. 

Start with areas that actually need repairs. Is the roof leaking? Is there drywall that needs patching? Is there a window that won’t shut properly?

Next, include updates that will make your home easier to live in. For example, more usable square footage would be of greater value than, say, new lighting fixtures.

#2: Not Getting a Permit — And Other Legal Requirements

Lots of people are tempted to skip this step. It seems like such a hassle, and besides, who’s going to know or care? 

Here’s why this is a big deal: A permit ensures that your project complies with all applicable safety and zoning regulations. Even most DIY projects require them. 

The consequences of remodeling without a permit are vastly more inconvenient than getting one:

  • Unpermitted work usually has to be torn down and redone from scratch.
  • Not having a permit could prevent you from selling your home. 
  • If a future homeowner is injured because of unpermitted work you did, you could be held liable. 


A qualified contractor will take care of permitting for you, but as the homeowner, the buck still stops with you. It is your responsibility to verify that all permits are in place before the work begins. 

#3: Not Having a Plan

Remodeling without a plan is like traveling without a map. 

Your contract must clearly describe the scope of work, all materials to be used, cleanup and debris removal, itemized pricing and payment schedule. All work should proceed in the proper order: for example, new floors must be installed after the walls are painted

If unexpected changes become necessary after the work begins, the contract must be amended to reflect those changes. 

Go over your ideas with your contractor and review your contract line by line before the work begins. Continually changing your mind after the project has started will only cause unnecessary delays and greater expenses. 

#4: Not Budgeting for the Unexpected

Always budget for an extra 10% to 20% on top of the initial estimate. 

Almost every renovation uncovers previously hidden problems that must be addressed for the work to be completed. These may include structural problems, mold, leaks, corrosion, termites, faulty wiring or harmful materials like asbestos. 

External factors like ordering mistakes, supply chain disruptions or natural disasters may also cause delays and extra costs in completing your project. 

#5: Not Hiring a Contractor & Other Pros

Home improvement shows can be a great source of ideas, but they make remodeling look much easier than it is. Attempting a project with no experience is both dangerous and illegal if the work is not done to code. 

On top of that, it often costs much more to fix DIY mistakes than it does to hire a qualified contractor. 

Make sure your contractor, architect and designer are all on the same page when it comes to the requirements of your project. Stay in touch with your contractor throughout the life of the project, and bring any issues to their attention early. 

#6: Hiring the Wrong Contractor

Never choose your contractor solely on price. 

Make sure the person you hire is licensed, bonded and properly insured. An unlicensed contractor cannot legally get a permit. In addition, you’ll often end up spending more money to correct the results of poor craftsmanship than if you’d hired a licensed professional.  

Check references, read online reviews and choose a contractor who’s easy to work with. They should take time to explain things without rushing you, and should never be rude or condescending. 

Finally, a good contractor will have established relationships with other qualified pros to recommend for your team, such as an architect or designer. 


If you’re planning a home renovation, reach out to Elite Renovations & Design for a free quote.

Our licensed professionals have the experience and know-how to give you the results you’re looking for.


Contractor measuring a wood plank for a remodeling projectContractor answering a couple’s questions