Considering a Home Renovation? Avoid These All-Too Common Mistakes

measuring a piece of wood

For many homeowners, renovations can be a smart investment. Not only do they make your home more comfortable, convenient, and enjoyable for the time being, but they can also increase the property’s value and marketability when it comes time to sell. Ultimately, that means more money and less time wasted — all huge advantages.

But these perks are only possible if you go about your renovation projects properly (and you choose the right ones).

Want to make sure you’re putting those hard-earned dollars toward renovations that will deliver in the end? Then take care to avoid these all-too-common remodeling mistakes:

  1. Picking the wrong projects. When it comes to remodeling your home, not all projects are created equal. While some may add aesthetic value, they don’t actually impact your home’s property or resale value at all. If you want to make sure to recoup your costs — and maybe even make a profit in the process — then choose your renovation projects wisely. Check out Remodeling Magazine’s 2018 Cost vs. Value report, which offers national data and regional data to help guide you toward the right projects.
  2. DIYing things you shouldn’t. There’s certainly a time and a place for DIYing, but you shouldn’t be handling the bulk of your renovations solo unless you truly know what you’re doing. Looking up directions online or watching YouTube videos can give you a little guidance, but it won’t 100% guarantee your project will turn out as it should (or that it will be done safely and per local building code.) If you want to ensure your renovations deliver the impact and value you’re going for — and that they’re in compliance with your city’s regulations — then using a pro is an absolute must.
  3. Not measuring everything. You should, of course, measure the size of the window frame you’re fitting or the spot where you’ll be installing new cabinetry, but that’s not all you need to have accurate sizing for. You really want measurements for the entire surrounding area — doorways, windows, even appliances — long before you start planning your renovation projects. Think of it this way: you wouldn’t want to install new cabinets only to find your brand new fridge doesn’t fit between them, would you? You also want to ensure all your new purchases and appliances can fit through your doors and hallways. Try a phone app like Photo Measures to help you track and store all your measurements.
  4. Using the full budget right off the bat. If you have $10,000 to spend, don’t earmark every dollar of that immediately. In renovations, a lot can go wrong along the way. You might remove your old cabinets to find mold or issues with the walls or wiring, or you may need to replace or repair items you didn’t know needed fixing. Experts typically say to set aside at least 15% of your renovation budget for these unexpected costs and expenses.
  5. Going too bold. If you’re ever going to consider selling your home, it’s important to keep future resale value in mind. A bright green kitchen with five wine chillers might be your dream space, but it likely wouldn’t draw in many buyers (or make for great listing photos either). Try to steer clear of going too bold or trendy in your remodel. Instead, keep it simple and classic.
  6. Starting renovations too early. Many homebuyers choose to renovate their newly purchased properties right off the bat, but experts say this could be a big mistake. Living in the home — at least for a short time — can help you better hone in on its flaws and shortcomings, which is what should drive your renovations. As Bruce Irving, a renovation consultant from Massachusetts, told Architectural Digest, homeowners should “learn its flow, where the groceries land, where the laundry wants to go, how the sun hits it, where the choke points are, which way the rain slants, even get a sense of its soul. All of this will inform your choices when you make your plans to change things.”
  7. Choosing the wrong contractor. A general handyman might be able to hammer a few nails in place, but are they really the best choice to install your $5,000 quartz countertops or rewire your entire media room? Probably not. In most cases, you want to choose a contractor who specializes in the exact renovations you’re looking to achieve. This will ensure the project is done according to industry best practices, local regulations, and current trends.

Keep in mind that you don’t have to pay for your home renovations out of pocket. A cash-out refinance can help you tap your home’s equity and access quick cash to use toward remodeling projects, repairs, and renovations. Contact a loan officer at Embrace Home Loans today to learn more about using a cash-out refinance for your remodeling goals.

Share this:

Aly Yale

Aly J. Yale is a freelance writer focusing on real estate, mortgage, and the housing market. Her work has been featured in Forbes, Bankrate, The Motley Fool, Business Insider, The Balance, and more. Prior to freelancing, she served as an editor and reporter for The Dallas Morning News. She graduated from Texas Christian University's Bob Schieffer College of Communication with a major in radio-TV-film and news-editorial journalism. Connect with her at or on Twitter at @AlyJwriter.