Home renovation mistakes all first-time owners should know and avoid (1 of 2)

Home renovation mistakes…it is what every homeowner would want to avoid at all cost. The moment you receive the keys to your property, you’re off to a cracking start to face the renovation challenge.

Experienced second-time homeowners would have had their fair share of renovation mistakes in the past, learned from them and avoid pitfalls. If you’re a newbie, we encourage you to read this because your home renovation can be very costly if it’s done the wrong way.

In order to guide you in the right direction for your renovation project, we will reveal some of the most common home renovation mistakes that homeowners make. When you avoid them, you’ll not only avoid burning a hole in your pocket, but it will also save you plenty of unnecessary pain at the end of the day.

It’s Not Difficult to Hire the Right Renovation Contractor

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This is either going to make or break your upcoming renovation project. It may sound tedious but do take the initiative to run some quick checks on those shortlisted renovation contractors or subcontractors before you hire them.

Whenever possible, always try to get references from friends, family members or colleagues. They are a good starting point because you could personally visit their homes and visually inspect the workmanship. You could also ask them about their experiences with the contractor(s) they hired. Word of mouth recommendations is always powerful.

If references are elusive, another way is to visit the company’s website or browse the Internet for reviews of the contractor. Established web portals such as TheBigPlans display detailed information of certified professionals, their portfolios and non-biased reviews from actual homeowners. Armed with relevant information, it helps you with a better evaluation of the professional you intend to hire.

After shortlisting the candidates, you will need to connect with them. Arrange a meeting with the renovation firm(s) you intend to work with. Visit their showroom or office. A reputed renovation firm will always encourage such visits. During consultations with them, don’t hesitate to ask questions.

If you find that you have a hard time talking to the renovation contractor about your project or getting your ideas across, you should consider looking for another candidate. Although it’s important to find a reputable and certified professional to handle your renovation project, you also need one that really understands your renovation goals and requirements.

Why It’s Important to Have An Interior Designer

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You have browsed through hundreds of inspiration room designs over the past 6 months, and you think it’s a good idea to save money by playing the role of the Interior Designer yourself. We urge you to think again seriously.

You would think decorating and designing your home is easy enough but there is a lot more work than meets the eye. In reality, most people face a difficult time deciding what they really want for their home. Unless you have received formal training, it’s a no-no for you to attempt such a feat.

Interior designers are worth their weight in gold. Almost every renovation firm will assign one to work with you. An interior designer decorates your home and makes efficient use of the space within your home. They can suggest options you might not have considered, and could also advise you on ways to save money if you have a tight budget. Therefore, don’t save on this.

How Much Should I Spend On My Renovation?

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This is a difficult topic to pin down. There are many things to consider when you renovate your home. The first and most important question to ask yourself: how much can you afford to spend, and how much should you spend.

As a first-time homeowner, you should consider spending conservatively on your home renovation and avoid burdening yourself with a large renovation loan. Just because you qualify for a big loan amount, doesn’t make it the right decision to take it on.

Many young couples over borrow and over commit themselves financially, and it is very stressful when a substantial portion of their salary goes into paying off the loan over a few years. If you are already stretched on your budget to get a renovation project started, you may want to consider holding it off until you are more financially stable.

To make sure you don’t run the risk of overspending, it’s a good idea to allocate not more than 10% of the property purchase price on your renovations. So if your home costs you $300,000 (excluding stamp duty and all other charges), you are looking at $30,000 to do up your house.

A good and experienced renovation contractor is able to give you sound advice on what sort of works could be expected with your intended budget. To be fair, he/ she will usually provide you with an estimate instead of a guaranteed price for the project during initial discussions. Only upon finalising your requirements would you get a more accurate costing.

It is also better to assume that your renovation costs would likely exceed what you have originally planned. Statistically, it’s almost a given because along the way, you may have a change of mind on materials. When you’re selecting materials such as floor tiles or wood type for your wardrobes, it’s also easy to get carried away choosing more expensive items and forget about your budget.

Another common scenario. Say you’re planning a brand new kitchen area, and your contractor tells you part of the flooring needs to be replaced because of defects caused by the previous owner. That means more money from your pocket. Hence, remember to throw in an additional 5% – 10% on top of your budget to act as a buffer – better to stay prepared than be caught off guard with unforeseen situations.

Shop For Quotes and Evaluate Them

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Once you’ve worked out a budget for your renovation, you now have to head off to start shopping for quotations. Whenever possible, request for an itemised quotation, where it will show the costs for all the various elements of the renovation project. With a cost break-down, it is also easier should you decide to take away or add items in order to manage your budget.

The rule of thumb is usually to get at least three to five quotes from shortlisted candidates. That requires some work from you because it means spending some time to contact and speak with potential contractors, in order to get this information. If you want a fast and reliable way to do this, consider using user-friendly platforms such as TheBigPlans.com to save you from tedious work.

The next question is – How much is the right amount then? You may receive a few extremely cheap quotes and of course, some higher ones, but a majority of the quotations will likely have a middle price range that isn’t too far apart between them. Chances are, those middle quotes will be the right price.

The subject of price is sensitive and a personal one. Contractors who have high charges usually have an unblemished reputation for outstanding quality workmanship and therefore, the price also reflects their skill level and confidence.

Image: wisegeek.com

It’s usually wise not to go blindly for the lowest quote without first comparing other things such as reputation, workmanship quality and reliability. Extremely low quotes could mean that the contractor might not have adequate experience to properly quote the job and to do the job properly, or there could be some hidden charges or corner cutting during the job, so they are able to undercut legitimate competitors.


Before accepting any quotation, always remember to get an official written contract for the renovation project. The document should have the company’s logo, name and address, contact details and company registration number.

It should also have the same details as the quote that was given to you, including itemised work to be done, with a breakdown of costs and a total amount, plus GST (Goods & Services Tax) if the company is GST registered.

We hope these pointers that we’ve shared would help you to avoid the pitfalls. Stay tuned for even more insights in Part 2!


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