15 Common Renovation Mistakes

Friday Nov 19th, 2021



Tales of renovations gone wrong are as common as they are expensive. For example, a do-it-yourselfer who lays flooring beginning at an angled wall ends up with a wonky flooring job that costs thousands of dollars to rip out and replace. Even worse are DIY plumbing and electrical projects that result in floods, fires and injury! Add this to the already-considerable stress that comes along with major home upgrades.  


Consider these important renovations mistakes to avoid:


  1. Hiring friends, family and neighbours
     You might think that hiring people you already know and like will result in them doing a great job for you. Sometimes this is true, but it can also bring personal feelings into the mix. If your brother makes a mistake laying your tile and it needs to be redone, how will that affect the relationship? Maybe you shouldn’t count on inviting him to Thanksgiving dinner for a while.
  2. Underestimating costs
     Develop realistic budgets by considering each step of the entire project. For example, a kitchen or bathroom upgrade involves more than new materials, it requires labour to rip out the old products, transport them to the landfill or recycle depot then repair and prep wall and floors. If you plan to do the work yourself, you may need to invest in special tools.
  3. Choosing inexpensive items
     Sometimes cheaper items are just as good as more expensive choices, but if an inexpensive item is poorly made, it will have a shorter lifespan. This means you will need to replace it sooner so you will be paying for more additional product, labour and time. Quality is the best long-term investment.
  4. Skipping the research
     Do your research so you know which product is best for your purposes (e.g., flooring suitable for dogs).
  5. Ignoring trends
     Do you have a flamboyant sense of style? Or do you cling to retro décor? While this is your prerogative, be aware that it may impact your home’s resale value.
  6. Ignoring experience
     What does that salesperson know about a product that interests you? Maybe quite a lot. Shop at reputable stores and read the fine print in their refund policy. If a store stands by their products with a fair policy, you can feel more confident of their recommendations.
  7. Not obtaining multiple quotes
     The difference in price for the same product can vary widely from store to store. Shop around and obtain quotes in writing.
  8. Not asking for a better deal
     If you ask nicely, you might obtain a better price or another incentive such as free delivery or a discount on an additional item you require.
  9. Not checking references and insurance
     When hiring contractors, check references and ask for proof of workers’ insurance.
  10. Skip the measurements
     Measure twice so you can buy and cut once. Will that sofa, stove, or double-door refrigerator fit through your doors? Not necessarily.
  11. Underestimating the work
     Renovations involve physical work that sometimes requires real brawn. For example, ‘click flooring’ may sound easy to install, but in tight corners, it requires real brawn to do it right.
  12. Skipping approvals
     If you live in a condominium, you will likely require approval to undertake any renovations that create significant noise and/or affect the structure, flooring or plumbing in your unit. When renovating a house (e.g., a suite, deck) you may need approval from the city.
  13. Being overly ambitious
     Dream big but break the dream down into manageable projects. This will help to reduce stress.
  14. Not documenting upgrades
     In the future, you may be wondering: What was that paint colour? Where did we buy those light fixtures? Where is the warranty? Organize and save all this information.
  15. Not documenting for insurance
     After you complete your renovation, ideally you will enjoy the space for years to come; however, if theft, flood, fire or natural disaster strikes, you may have a surprise when you file an insurance claim. Insurance companies have been known to demand proof of contents before they reimburse owners. Once you complete your project, take photographs of your home and make photocopies of receipts for all of the renovation upgrades such as appliances, furniture and countertops then store these offsite (e.g., a deposit box or digitally with cloud storage). 


The best teacher may be experience, but considering the cost of renovation mistakes, it’s more cost-effective to learn from others. Take a moment to review this list as you plan your next renovation.

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