Old house renovation failures are legendary and in great supply. Heck, they’ve even made a movie about it (see Tom Hanks and Shelley Long in The Money Pit ). And no matter how many HGTV shows you’ve watched, you still may not be prepared for the harsh realities of a home renovation, particularly when it involves an older home.
We’ve rounded up the top five pitfalls you’re likely to encounter as you tackle that old house renovation!
Failing to properly size up the job
In the case of old house renovations, you’ll need to silence your inner Pollyanna. Take an honest inventory of all the work that will need to be done and do your best to identify issues that may arise. No, you won’t be able to foresee every issue, but do your research and ask questions so that you’re at least aware of what could go wrong. By anticipating that there will be some bumps in the road, you’ll be better equipped to handle the curve-balls that come your way.
Not allowing for contingencies in your budget
Have you ever heard of an old house renovation that ended up on or under budget? You probably haven’t. Why? Because an under-budget home project is pretty much a unicorn. You may nail your budget for countertops and cabinets, but it will be what’s behind the walls that will really cost you. Plan for the unexpected and make sure you’ve got a bit of leeway in your budget.
Not doing your homework
Treat your home renovation as you would a project at work. Even if you hire a contractor, the project will require a huge amount of your time. It can be tempting to skip pesky little details like checking references, or confirming details about deliveries, but know that the end result will be in large part due to the effort you’re willing to put in on the front end.
Not shopping around
A surefire budget killer is selecting the first materials or finishes that strike your fancy. Worse, some contractors are notorious for pointing their clients towards certain vendors with whom they have questionable financial arrangements. In this day in age, it’s easier than ever to shop around online and compare prices and warranties.
The gold hardware you found in that fancy home shop in the city may actually be available at half the price somewhere else, if you’re willing to put in the time to shop around.
Being mentally unprepared
Home renovations will take a toll on your sanity and your relationships. You’ll experience disappointments when aspects of the renovation don’t quite turn out the way you’d envisioned them. You’ll experience frustration when the project schedule extends way past the date you thought that it would be done. You’ll spar with your spouse about whether that claw-foot tub is worth the extra money. You’ll experience decision-making fatigue when your contractor calls you for the fifth time to ask if you’ve finally selected the faucet you’d like to go in the half bath. Anticipating the emotional roller coaster will help you better cope when you’re in the throes of it!
As you tackle that old house renovation, be prepared for a wide swath of emotions, a ton of work and a bigger bill than you expect. But know that it will be worth it when the renovation is (finally) finished and you can live in the home of your dreams.
If you’re ready to start renovating, check out our blog on why it’s important to tell your insurance company about your renovation. If you need insurance for your older home, we also have information about what you need to know about old home insurance.