Design Tips

Don't make these 5 common renovation mistakes that homeowners always forget about.

5 Things Homeowners Always Forget When Renovating

I’m sure you have heard it from your friends, but as a professional in the business, I can tell you that renovating is extremely stressful. Even if you are prepared, there are always surprises and unexpected expenses that pop up and send your blood pressure through the roof. There are things that you can do to lessen the stress along the way, and hopefully enjoy the process. Your home, after all, is your most prized possession. You should love the process of creating a space for you and your family to enjoy for a long time. Here are some common home renovation mistakes that I’ve seen happen time and time again.


Start With a Design Package

The single biggest mistake that anyone can make when renovating is starting without a design. Saving photos on Pinterest and on Houzz is not going to help you design your home. There is a crazy amount of time and work that goes into crystallizing a design and telling your general contractors that “you know exactly what you want” is not going to help matters.

A design consists of floor plans and elevations, along with a spec book. Not only will you understand what your space will look like and what’s going into it, but your contractor will understand exactly what he/she has to build. Contrary to what you might think, permit plans are not a design. So arm yourself with all of the key components of what makes up a design package (construction drawings and a spec book), and get on the same page as your contractor.


Understand Your Budget

There are many things to consider when determining how much your renovation will cost. If you have a budget in mind, it will be easier to design and plan your renovation around that number. And even if you have a construction budget, you will still need to establish if your construction budget includes taxes and fees (i.e. permit fees, designer fees, engineer’s fees etc.) Are you going to be living elsewhere during your renovation? And will you have to pay rent or carry the cost of more than one property?  Have you considered that you should carry a contingency budget for surprises along the way (i.e. mold, asbestos, compromised structure, etc.)?

Even if you had a budget in mind for construction, chances are it will have to grow considerably when considering all of your costs in the long run. If you have a complete construction package (construction drawings and a spec book) your contractor will be able to put together accurate pricing for your job to help you keep your costs in line and save money where it makes sense.


Prepare For the Stress

I could write an entire book on this topic. It doesn’t matter how easy-going you are. It doesn’t matter how cool and collected you are. You will feel the stress that goes hand in hand with renovation projects. If you are reading this article, it will help prepare you for what’s in store. The likelihood of you going temporarily insane at about the 85% completion point of your project is very high. What I mean is, your brain will start functioning in a way that is completely foreign for you. You will develop super acute visual skills that will allow you to focus on the very tiny details that you would have normally never seen. You will notice a slight variation in your grout colours, or the colour of your light bulbs. You will envision the tile or your wood flooring to be different from what you had chosen because your super acute visual skills will see details that you didn’t see before. And all of these things that you are now looking at with your super acute eyesight will stress you out in a way that I can’t really explain.

The best advice I can give to you is to take a deep breath, and wait 36 hours before you say anything about it. Don’t call your contractor in the middle of the night and don’t email your designer on the weekend. Pour yourself a glass of wine, let some time pass and know that you are not alone. Everyone who renovates goes through this to some degree because we are emotionally attached to our homes and take the building of them very seriously. If you have a plan and budget in place before you start renovating, and if you are aware that you will go a little crazy during the process, then you are well prepared to start your project!


Quality Over Quantity

When putting together your costs for your project, you will discover very quickly that everything adds up! An extra thousand dollars here and there turns into an extra hundred thousand before you know it. Don’t default to the cheapest products or contractor as a result. Remember that the hardest day to spend a lot of money on a quality product is the actual day you part with your money. Every day after that, you will be so grateful that you spent your money on getting quality products for your renovation. You will never regret going with quality products and a quality contractor. Whereas, you will most likely regret going with the cheapest option and cutting corners in places you’ll later wish you invested in!


Design Is In the Details

Since we’re on the topic of what people forget when they’re renovating I thought I’d also include a short list of things that sometimes get forgotten during your renovation, even if you have a complete construction package and budget. Here’s a checklist of random items that should be considered during your renovation.

  • Ensure your dimmers are compatible with your light bulbs
  • Get yourself some beautiful vent covers for your supply and air return grills.
  • Find out if your fridge needs a waterline before your contractor boards up the walls.
  • You can run your wires for your tv to your cable box in behind your walls within a pipe.
  • Make sure the shelf holding your cable box is deep enough.
  • Don’t forget to install lights in your closets
  • You’ll want lots of shoe storage at your foyer.
  • Don’t forget about receptacles for your electric toothbrushes
  • Don’t install your fridge right next to a wall, unless it’s an integrated fridge
  • Gas fireplaces can make a well-insulated home too hot.
  • Clean your ducts after your renovation in order to prevent destroying your furnace.


All in all, being as prepared as possible and working with the right professionals is the best defense against costly mistakes during your home remodeling projects. Luckily for you, here at Reno Bible we’ve created construction packages to get you started on the right foot. Explore the options or take the quiz to find the right spec for you.

Up next, why you NEED a construction package for your renovation.

6 Replies to “5 Things Homeowners Always Forget When Renovating”

  1. Excellent information Gillian, thank you!
    I am currently starting construction of a new residence (after tearing down our 30 year old house) and working with architects, engineer, and contractor, but no Interior Designer. My architects claim that I don’t need an I.D., they can offer the same expertise, but I wonder. I am in the Niagara area.

    Any comments or suggestions, please?

    Would you consider mine a worthy job to get involved in?

    Thank you,

    1. Hi Angela, some architecture firms do have interior design departments. It wouldn’t hurt to find out how much they support you throughout the interior design phase of your job. It’s a massive component to how your home will function! Feel free to reach out to us at [email protected].

  2. Great information. Thanks so much. I especially connected with the segment about the emotional toll. I just had a new roof, gutters, impact resistant windows and exterior doors installed and the house painted, then went into a kitchen renovation. (Yes, you have every right to call me nuts!) I started recognizing my “visual acuity” issue particularly with the kitchen redo. Thankfully, I have the luxury of a nephew at hand who is a former contractor. I had him walk me through what’s reasonable to expect and what I should ask to be addressed. He pointed out, for example, what a good job the “backsplash guy” did given the minor imprecision of manufactured backsplash tile. Bottom line: Getting someone with some knowledge about the type renovation you’re doing to help you find the balance between reasonable expectations and being taken advantage of with shoddy work is invaluable! Now I feel confident about my next conversation with the contractor.

    1. The vast majority of fridge doors are designed to open up at least 120 degrees. If a fridge is installed next to a wall, the fridge door handle will prohibit the door from opening up more than 90 degrees. You then won’t be able to open up the drawers inside your fridge because the doors will be in the way.

  3. Thank you very much. I had never thought of that. And also there are many times when the door swing can be a problem. Many refrigerators only come with right-hand swing doors, which can be inconvenient if the kitchen is laid out in such a way that it would be better to have a left-hand swing door. I encountered this problem myself, and had a time finding a fridge that had a left-swing door. Thanks again for the wonderful advice.

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