Most Common Renovation Mistakes & How To Avoid Them

Hindsight is a beautiful thing, which is why we've pulled together some of the most common renovation regrets to help you avoid making them yourself.

renovations plans
ARTICLE Erin Reilly

Renovating a home is almost like a rite of passage into adulthood. You buy your first property (it’s a do-upper because that’s all you can afford), you transform it into what you hope will be the home of your dreams, then you wish you could start over because you’ve realised you’ve done it all wrong.
Hindsight is a beautiful thing, which is why we’ve pulled together some of the most common renovation regrets to help you avoid making them yourself.

Trying – and failing at – DIY

There’s a reason why you should ask a dentist to remove a sore tooth, not a massage therapist. The same goes with home renovations. One of the biggest reno regrets has got to be trying to do it yourself, especially when it comes to juggling all the different pieces of the renovation puzzle and figuring out what needs to happen first. “There’s nothing more frustrating than getting all your tiling done, then realising something else needs to be done and having to rip it all up and start again,” says Auckland Refresh Renovations consultant Dave Georgetti. “If homeowners don’t know what they’re doing, they could get over-promised and massively under-delivered by their trades too. A project manager understands exactly what’s expected, who to bring onboard to get the job done right, and how do it efficiently and within budget.”

Getting kitchens wrong

Transforming a kitchen involves more than just swapping out old, stained cupboards for shiny, new cabinetry. “I had a client who changed the cupboards in her kitchen, thinking that would solve the problem,” says Wellington Refresh Renovations consultant Nick Leko. “Not long afterwards, she called me up and said, ‘I’ve still got the same problem’. It turns out that the problem wasn’t the joinery; it was the layout and functionality of the kitchen.” When it comes to kitchen design, it pays to ask the professionals for advice. If entertainment is important to you, you might need to knock down a wall; if you need more bench space or storage, the solution could be an island or butler’s pantry.

Going over budget

The most common renovation complaint is spending too much money. To avoid overspending, Georgetti and Leko recommend getting a fixed price. “The beauty of a fixed price is that it reduces – even eliminates – any cost surprises that might pop up during a project,” says Leko.

Not having enough budget

There’s nothing worse than getting to the end of a lengthy reno and feeling sad that it’s not quite what you wanted. Compromises are essential on any project, but don’t compromise so much that you end up with a result you’re just not happy with. “If you’re already spending a couple of thousand dollars to renovate your home, an extra $5k isn’t much in the scheme of things to make a bedroom slightly bigger or add more storage,” says Georgetti. “It might cost slightly more now, but it’ll be way more expensive to fix it later.”

Getting stuck in too quickly

Don’t be tempted to turn your new home upside-down the day after you get the keys. “Try to live in a place for a year before you do anything too radical,” suggests Georgetti. “Often, the first impressions you think you want to change turn out to be a non-event, while other problems crawl out of the woodwork.”

Going too quirky

If your intention is to live in your renovated home until your last breath, go on, install that swing in your bathroom or disco ball in the garage. But if you plan to on-sell your property with the hope of earning a profit, ask yourself honestly if other people will like your quirks. “Some things might seem like good ideas at the time but they might not appeal to a wider market,” says Georgetti. “If reselling is the goal, keep it simple.”

Getting rid of the bath

You might not remember the last time you had a bath, and you might hate getting rid of all the dust that accumulates because of your non-use. But if you have kids or grandkids, or if you sell your home further down the track to someone who does, a bath in the bathroom is an essential feature of any family home.

Not enough storage

One moment you’re struggling to fill your cupboards and the next there’s no room in your garage for your car. To ensure there’s enough storage in every room of the house, think about what you want to keep out on show. A butler’s pantry is a great way to hide away surplus clutter in the kitchen, double wardrobes in every bedroom are handy for storing oversized or seasonal belongings like winter coats and duvets, while secret cupboards in the bathroom will keep toilet paper and cleaning products hidden from visitors.
storage in garage

You may also be interested in How Much Does A Mid-Range Kitchen Renovation Cost?

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*All information is believed to be true at time of publishing and is subject to change.

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