There’s arguably never been a better time to renovate your Austin home. The market is booming and properties that are updated, modern, and well-designed are typically under contract within hours of being listed. (Many for above asking price.)
However, don’t let your HGTV obsession convince you that renovating a home is as simple as knocking down walls, applying a little paint, and decorating with home goods from Target. If you’re serious about doing it right, there are a few costly mistakes you’ll need to avoid.
Don’t Make These 7 Mistakes
Whether you’re renovating to sell, or you plan to stay in your Austin home for the next decade, it’s imperative that you approach any remodel project with a plan. And part of the plan should account for the mistakes you do not want to make. Mistakes like:
1. Too Much DIY
YouTube and Pinterest are great. They serve as excellent platforms for inspiration and can even show you how to do simple home improvement projects. These social networks can, however, become dangerous when they give you a false sense that you can tackle projects that are way above your skill level.
Take knocking down walls, for example. You’ll find no shortage of videos on YouTube that claim to show you how to identify non-load bearing walls, knock them down, reroute electrical wiring and plumbing, and renovate a space. The only problem is that it takes contractors years of hands-on experience and professional training to acquire these skills. Trying to learn how to perform a task like this by watching a heavily-edited 10-minute video is wishful thinking.
There are certain tasks that you can do on your own. (Depending on your skill level, you may be able to paint walls, put down flooring, or install trim.) But then there are major tasks that you should leave up to the professionals. Confidence is great, but be realistic!
2. Failing to Get Multiple Quotes
In a competitive market like Austin, Texas, contractors are a dime a dozen. But only some contractors are worth trusting with your home. Hiring the first one you meet with can be a costly mistake.
Most contractors understand how to “play the game.” They show up, make a solid first impression, nod their head as you talk, make a few suggestions, and then come up with an attractive quote. The question is, can they back up their talk?
To get a feel for the market rate and different renovation options, get a minimum of three quotes. If all of the quotes come in around the same rate, this tells you that you’re on the right path. If they’re all over the board, you may want to get another quote and/or clarify what each contractor is offering.
3. Not Thinking Long-Term
Don’t get so caught up in the present that you lose sight of the future. While it’s definitely important that you enjoy your home now, you don’t want to invest in renovations that will hurt your resale value down the road.
For example, you might want to transform your garage into a bonus living space. And though this works for your family now, it could hurt you if every other home in the neighborhood has a two-car garage. Always be thinking ahead.
4. Leaving No Room in the Budget
It’s easy to plan out a renovation budget on paper. You can add up the cost of materials and make a pretty good guess about how many man hours will be required. But there are always going to be additional and unforeseen expenses. (You never know what’s lurking behind that wall or hiding beneath original flooring.)
The best thing you can do is plan ahead for unforeseen expenses by leaving ample cushion in the budget. In fact, we recommend earmarking somewhere between 10 to 20 percent of the total project cost for additional expenses. (If you need it, it’s there. If you don’t, then it’s more money in your pocket.)
5. Project Scope Creep
How many times have you started off buying a piece of furniture for a room, only to have it turn into a total room remodel? It’s easy to begin a renovation project with one room and have it spill over into two or three rooms. (This is known as project scope creep.) But if you want to stay on budget, it’s imperative that you remain focused on the task at hand.
The best way to prevent project scope creep is through careful planning. Be thorough in your planning and budgeting (and ask your contractor to be meticulous about staying within these boundaries).
6. Being Too Trendy
If you’re renovating a property so that you can quickly turn around and sell it, then trendy design and decor could work for you. But if you’re renovating with the intention of remaining in the house for more than a year, trendy design is going to hurt your home’s value more than it helps.
The best advice is to go classic and conservative with major home renovations. Then, if you want a trendy look, you can achieve it through decor. This allows you to enjoy the latest trends without becoming married to them.
7. Letting Small Details Dictate Big Investments
Be mindful of the big picture and don’t let tiny details control the outcome of your project. We commonly see this issue play out with furniture. A homeowner will have an $800 sofa they love so much that they’ll design the entire floor plan around that piece of furniture. In other words, they allow an $800 sofa to influence a $28,000 project. (In the grand scheme of things, the $800 sofa is nothing. The homeowner would be better off renovating the space and then finding a new sofa to fit the space.) Always maintain the proper perspective!
Buy and Sell With Green Residential
At Green Residential, it’s our mission to help Austin residents buy and sell with ease. With flat fee commission structures, decades of local experience, and a team of highly-skilled professionals ready to serve, we’re reimagining the entire process and making real estate transactions simpler than ever. Contact us today to learn more!