Biggest Renovation Mistakes you Should Avoid!


From ignoring prep work and safety to setting unrealistic budgets, find out how to avoid these mistakes and more when renovating.

Buying Cheap Materials

Don’t Sweat It host Steve Watson says, “One of the biggest mistakes that people make when it comes to home renovation (is that) they try to be cheap when they buy materials. The bottom line is, you’re going to get what you pay for.”

Inaccurate Measurements

Nancy Soriano, former editor in chief of Country Living magazine says, “I can’t emphasize enough how an inch or even sometimes a half an inch can make a difference. And if your dimensions are off and it’s not equal and symmetrical, you’re not going to get the full impact and effect that you want. If you’re not sure about how to measure or you can’t follow the directions, don’t hesitate at all to call somebody. Ask them to come over and take the measurement for you.”

Skipping the Prep Work

Paint Preperation“Do it the right way, right away,” says Carey. “You shouldn’t avoid your prep work. You want to take the time to do it right and right from the beginning.”

Contractor Jim Collins says, “It’s a horrible, tedious process, and nobody likes it, but it saves so much time later on down the way. And that’s what you’re trying to do: save yourself money and time.”

Gutting Everything

“Make sure you have a well-set plan before you start your renovations, because you don’t want to go in there and just clear everything out, when you might be able to work around some areas,” warns Carey Evans of Don’t Sweat It.

“I see this time and time again where people just start, and they think they’re going to pull a piece of wallpaper off, and by the time the process is over, they’ve completely gotten themselves into a deep, dark hole that’s very difficult to get out of,” adds Eric Stromer of Over Your Head.

Excessive Use of Duct Tape

Duct Tape-Wrapped PresentsSave the duct tape for decorative purposes only. “My esteemed colleagues, duct tape is not a permanent solution. It is merely a temporary fix,” says Eric.

“People use duct tape because it’s cheap and it’s quick and it’s easy, but it’s definitely a temporary solution. Don’t leave it up for more than a couple hours, ever,” Jimmy adds.


Using the Wrong Tools

Anne Sawing “There are really three problems with using the wrong tool: You can wreck the tool, you can wreck the project you’re working on and you can wreck yourself,” notes Spike Carelsen, former executive editor ofFamily Handyman.


Building a Small Bathroom

Black and White Powder Room“If you need a small bathroom, pick the right fixtures,” says Jimmy. “You can buy low-profile toilets and narrower sinks. Don’t try to put full-size fixtures in a tiny, tiny bathroom. It’s just going to be crowded.”

“I’m a real believer in using bold colors and bold prints, because boldness in small spaces actually makes it feel better,” Nancy adds.


Ignoring Lighting

Hammer Heads carpenter Carmen De La Paz says, “Another mistake that homeowners will often make is not taking into consideration the lighting in their home. The lighting in your home can completely change the colors, the feeling, the ambiance.”


Going Too Trendy

“People often make the mistake of wanting to be too hip and trendy in their new home by picking the latest, hottest, coolest things,” says Carmen. “What they don’t take into consideration is that trendy means that it’s short term.”

“You want something that’s going to stand the test of time, and you want something that’s going to last for years and years,” says Jim.



Credit: Photo Credit: Edward Addeo © Gibbs Smith, Farrow and Ball, Brian D Coleman, Edward Addeo (photographer)

Building Small Doorways

arched door“Make sure you’re looking at the entire floor plan of your home when you’re planning your doorways. Look for, and make sure that every room has multiple exits. Or, if those doorways are in high-traffic areas, make sure they’re wide enough to let multiple people pass through,” Carey says.


Incorrect Storage of Materials

Hanging ToolsMarc Bartolomeo of Save My Bath says, “You should always store materials in a cool, dry place.”

Steve adds, “A roll of plastic will save you a lot of time and a lot of money, when it comes to wood and concrete. When it comes to tools and stuff like that, keep them inside.”


Not Using Green Materials

“People will often make the mistake of not going green with their home project for two reasons: 1. They don’t know how to, and 2. They think that it costs more money,” Carmen says.

“If you’re doing your renovation green, you’re really ahead of the market right now. So going green is a very smart investment,” Carey emphasizes.


Using the Wrong Paint Type

Dramatic Blue Dining Room“People often make the mistake of picking the wrong paint for whatever particular project they may be working on,” says Carmen. “You don’t realize that there is paint for just about every surface.”

“Flat is for your ceilings and sometimes for your walls,” adds carpenter Jeff Devlin of Spice Up My Kitchen. “Whereas your semigloss would be for trim in a bathroom or in a dining room. The glossy will give it a more upscale look.”




Choosing the Wrong Windows

White Tufted Armchair in Sunroom“Windows are really expensive, and a lot of people try to (save) money on them, but that’s not where you want to save your money,” Jimmy says.

“You can always put more emphasis on the windows in the front of the house that face the street. That’s one way to save on money, but do not skimp on quality,” Nancy says.


Not Doing Your Homework

“You have to know what you’re getting into,” Jim says. “Even if you’re not doing the work yourself, know what to look for, what your contractor is doing. That way you can keep a close eye on the project and know when something’s getting out of hand.”

“I think it’s really important to do at least some preliminary work. You want to be able to have enough information to know what questions to ask,” Nancy says.




Forgetting to Update the Electrical System

Multi-Plug Outlet“I think people sometimes forget about electric when they’ve been renovating because it’s costly and it’s hidden,” Nancy says. “You want to walk through the house with the electrician before you start to talk about outlets, where they are, where you want new outlets, three-prong outlets. You want to make sure everything’s up to code.”