Renovating your home, whether new or old, can be a daunting task. The desire of creating your dream home, the excitement of turning your dream into reality, and the anticipation of walking through the doors into the home of your dreams can sometimes get in the way of logic and sense.

So what we’ve created here is a checklist for you to turn to, in order to avoid making the most common mistakes that home renovators make. Whether it is a shortage of power points, odd placement of lights, or weirdly planned wiring, below are some of the most common mistakes that you should avoid.

Selecting the Contractor with the Lowest Budget

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Renovations are expensive projects, so it may be tempting to select the contractor with the lowest-priced proposal. They will promise to fulfil your design plan immaculately, and if you are lucky, you will actually get a beautifully renovated home at an amazingly affordable price!

Unfortunately, these success stories are a rare case. Many contractors who provide the lowest estimates are prone to cutting corners – especially where you cannot see them.

A good side story are the houses in Section 17 of Petaling Jaya. Many of the homes here were affordably built – without a proper foundation. This is especially obvious in the homes that were extended.

The effects have started to show now approximately 30 years down the line. The walls are cracking in parts of the house, as the ground has started sinking because the houses do not have a proper foundation. It is fortunate then that many of the houses here are single storey homes, hence the sinking of the land is not as bad as it would have been had the houses been double-storey properties.

So the moral of the story is: do not skimp on your budget, observe the quotation provided carefully and ask all the questions you need to clarify your concerns. You do after all get what you pay for.

Not Asking for Reference

Sure the contractor is highly recommended online and has great reviews. However, in this day and age, online reviews can be faked. So what you really want to do is to ask the contractor for references, have a chat with their previous clients, and if they are kind enough, for them to send you photos of the renovations done or visit the site itself to see if you like the job done.

This is because some contractors are better at certain types of renovations than others. Some may be more experienced in woodwork, while others have more experience in working minimalistic designs. So always select a contractor that best suits what you have in mind for your home.

Ignoring Your Gut

On the other hand, no matter how much you like the work of a particular contractor, always listen to your gut. The team may come with the highest recommendations and the best references. But if they rub you wrong from the start, if you feel that they are condescending to you or if you feel like their attitude is rubbing on your nerves, drop them.

Renovating your home will require you to work closely with the team. It will require you to meet up with them frequently and visit your home once in a while to ensure that everything is being worked out according to plan.

If the team already gave you a bad vibe in the initial stage, this will progressively get worse with time as you are forced to communicate with each other. Many an argument and firing of a team started from bad mojo from the get-go, leading to a prolonged renovation period and complications down the line. So make sure you listen to your gut and hire a team you are comfortable with.

Unexpected Costs!

You have hired the best designers, got your desired renovation plans transformed into 3D imaging so you can get the most realistic idea of how your home will look like, and everything is going perfectly and according to plan.

Suddenly there is an oopsie here and an ouchy there… that wallpaper doesn’t quite look the same as it did on the screen, and the flooring is just too shiny – something you could not gauge just from looking at the samples. You decide to change it before they continue any further. And then you went to a home expo, and your significant other found a kitchen counter of granite that she likes much more than your current selection – another change!

Before you know it, all these changes can add up to quite a bit. So always ensure you have 20% more than your allocated budget put aside for all these unexpected changes. If there are no changes, you will have some spare cash set aside, but if there are any changes, at least you are covered.

Selecting Appliances Last

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Home appliances are items of necessity, so not many people stop to figure out what they want before the renovations begin. But this is an especially important step that should not be forgone, as selecting your appliances may be crucial to some parts of your home.

For example, creating a section dedicated to the refrigerator is common in Asian homes. Unfortunately, these sections are typically built to size – hence many a common mistake is creating the roof too low or the space too narrow, which limits the size of the refrigerator you can buy.

And another common mistake is the size of the washing machine. Many yards come with a dedicated elevated step to place your washing machine on. A couple may only need a 5KG washing machine, but a family will want a much larger sized washing machine. If the dedicated elevated step for the machine is too small, you will need to amend the size in order to make it fit a larger machine. And if it is too large for your machine, it will look odd.

Expecting Everything to Go According to Plan

And finally, no matter how perfect your planning, things will not go as planned. There may be issues in getting the renovation permits. There could be a problem with procuring sufficient stock for your floorboards. There may be defects, damaged flooring, a colour that doesn’t seem quite the same as it did in the samples, and many other issues.

So no matter how confident you are in your contractor, don’t be planning to move in by a certain date or be planning your house party before the renovations are actually completed! As the saying goes, don’t count your chicks before your eggs hatch.

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(Written by Diane Foo Eu Lynn, 8th September 2020)