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4 Home Improvement Nightmares – And How To Avoid Them



A home renovation project should be exciting – after all, you get to create the beautiful home of your dreams and add some extra comfort and energy efficiency while you're at it. Sadly, these projects can quickly turn into a nightmare if you overlook basic details or if your contractor is not as trustworthy as they seem.  Worst case, you may end up with a blown budget and poor quality workmanship. Check out these frequent home improvement nightmares and learn how to avoid them.

1. The Contractor Bails In The Middle Of The Project

When something like this happens, you are typically left with a home that you can barely live in with a serious financial headache. This happens more often than you might think: the contractor finds a better paying job or they realize your project is more work than they initially estimated, so they are not willing to work on it anymore.

The solution? An iron-clad contract that clearly specifies penalties for delays or incomplete work. The contractor will be reluctant to pay for penalties, so they are more likely to stay and complete the job.

2. Your Home Improvement Project Goes Over Budget

First off, you need to know that most home improvement projects will go slightly over budget, so it is advisable to add an extra 20% to your initial estimate just to be on the safe side. But going beyond that 20% safety net can put you under immense financial pressure. This is what you can do to keep control of your finances:

  • Do not change your mind mid-project. Even small changes, like the way the ceramic tiles in the bathroom are arranged, can cause both delays and increased costs. Do your research before the start of the project and stick to your choices.
  • Negotiate a fixed fee with your contractor. Never accept things like “we will see how complicated the job is once we start.” This has the potential to cost you dearly. Make sure every component of the project is clearly outlined before work begins.
  • Plan for everything ahead, not just the “big” things. If you install replacement windows for example, factor in the cost of repairing the rotten wood in the frames, too.

3. Poor Execution

Let's say that your home renovation is completed, but it is not what you expected; maybe the tiles are crooked, the replacement windows leak air or the kitchen cabinets do not close properly. These are obvious execution mistakes that can be avoided.

Set quality parameters in your contract and explain to your contractor the quality you expect the team to deliver. Make sure you add a clause that specifies that the contractor should fix any mistakes and covers their work under a clearly outlined installation warranty.

4. The Contractor Wants To Take No Responsibility (...Or Is Too Involved)

There are two kinds of nightmare contractors: One offers no advice on how to proceed and leaves every single decision with you – even the highly technical ones. The other is stubborn and inflexible; it’s their way or the highway.

The first scenario indicates a contractor that is not sufficiently involved or does not want to take the blame if something goes wrong (and it probably will!), while the second contractor may want to get the job done with cheaper materials and less labor with little input from you.

To avoid both these situations, get references for your contractor before making a decision. Ideally, hire someone that has done work for your friends or neighbors. If that is not possible, check their credentials and ask for recommendations from third parties. Your safety, your comfort and your money are at stake – make sure you secure the right person for the job.

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Topics: Home Improvement, Home Improvement Mistakes