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Top Renovation Mistakes

Renovating your home can be both fun and rewarding, but it can also be stressful. If you're not aware of the possible pitfalls and problems before you start, a home renovation can quickly turn into a nightmare. Luckily, as long as you know what to avoid you can make sure your renovation work is both attractive and valuable. With that in mind, here are some of the most common mistakes that people make when renovating.

Poor Financial Planning

Whether you're renovating your own home or working on a fixer for resale, it's important to be pessimistic when it comes to calculating how much your renovations are likely to cost. If you're contracting work out, plan to spend about 10% more than your bid for "surprises" that might come up during the work. For projects you're planning to do yourself, add 15-20% on top of your materials budget. You may not need to spend that much, but if unforeseen complications do arise, you'll be glad you put that money aside.

If you're financing your renovations through a loan, draw up a detailed budget before you begin approaching lenders. Stick to your budget whenever possible, and if you end up spending more than you planned in one area, try and compromise in others to reduce your costs.

Going Against the Norm

Particularly if you're renovating with the intent to sell the property afterwards (or even several years into the future), it's important to renovate with your potential buyers in mind. You might think you'd rather have a rec room than a garage in your home right now, but that decision could turn around and bite you in the future when you're trying to sell a home without a garage. Closing off open spaces is definitely something to be avoided. If you have an open-plan kitchen and dining room, walling those rooms off isn't a good idea, because open-plan areas are popular with buyers.

Avoid remodeling bedrooms and living rooms except in specific situations; these types of renovations add very little to the value of the property. Kitchen and bathroom renovations are the most lucrative in terms of adding resale value.

Upgrading over the Neighborhood's Value

It's important to make sure your improvements are in line with properties in your neighborhood. If you raise the value of your property too much, you may find it's difficult to find a buyer should you later decide to sell. To maximize your resale value, your renovations should not increase the property's value more than 15% over the average value of surrounding homes.

When you're planning your renovations, compare your property to others in your neighborhood. Find out where your home is lacking and make improvements in those areas. For example, if your home has three bedrooms and most surrounding properties have four or more, adding an extra bedroom will increase the desirability of your home when it comes time to sell. They don't add much in terms of value, however. A second bathroom is a great prospect for increasing the value of your home, and can be worth as much as twice what it costs to build.

Ignoring the Experts

If you're planning to make structural changes such as turning your kitchen and dining room into an open-plan area, or if you're going to be making changes to plumbing or electrical wiring, it's wise to enlist the help of an expert. Attempting to take on large projects by yourself can be disastrous. It's easy to mistakenly remove weight-bearing walls, or miss the signs that point to pest infestations or other problems that might cause trouble in the future. Hiring a contractor will increase the cost of your renovations, but a well-done renovation job might save you money in the future.

Republished with Permission from
© 2008, HouseValues Inc.