Home Improvement Mistakes NOT To Make

Home Improvement Mistakes NOT To Make | Century 21 Action

Remodeling your home is an investment. Like any other big investment, you want to make sure you proceed wisely. In an effort to save you time, money and stress we're talking about some common (and expensive) home improvement mistakes that you really don't want to make—plus some tips on how to avoid them. Remember, knowledge is power. Let Century 21 Action be your Topsail Island realty experts. We are here for you!

If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put foundations under them.

– Henry David Thoreau
couple working on home improvements | Century 21 Action


One of the most expensive mistakes in remodeling is a budget that’s too low. The need to save money leads to so many bad choices and almost always backfires. Having a budget that is more than sufficient has the opposite result. Good choices are made, good materials are purchased, a great design is prioritized and the finished product ends up being significantly more valuable and, as odd as it would seem, often costing far less to complete.

Be sure the scope of the work and the monetary budget match. If the money seems short there are three options: Get a loan, reduce the scope or wait. Home improvement loans can be a great thing. Phasing your work and reducing the scope of the initial project is another solution. And, of course, there’s always the option to set the renovation on the back burner for another year and save up a few more bucks before starting. Whatever choice you make, the real key to not making costly mistakes in a remodeling project is having the budget available to do it right the first time!


Homeowners and professionals have personalities, favored approaches and communication styles that can make or break the whole process. The bottom line is that hiring the first person you talk to without getting another opinion is risky. Even if that first contractor or designer is “the one,” what harm is there in having a couple more conversations just to have more information and comparison points?

Talk to at least two or three people before making a choice. Asking around should always be your first step. When someone says he or she loved the work of a certain contractor, ask that person if you can come see the finished project. Take mental notes of the quality of the work and ask about things like timeliness, cleanliness and attention to detail. It also never hurts to randomly call licensed pros you find through advertisement such as vehicle signage, job signage in your neighborhood, local publications, etc. You can get names from online sources like Angie’s List, etc., but just be aware that these sources are frequently biased to paying advertisers.


Cheaping out and cutting corners can mean many things. Cheap materials are a common culprit. Buying lesser quality windows, doors or fixtures can save thousands but cost you far more than they save in the long run. Hiring unlicensed contractors and subcontractors is another shortcut that can come back to haunt you later. The savings for these kinds of calls are rarely worth the trouble they can cause. Cheap windows can cost you a fortune in heating and air-conditioning and make an entire space uncomfortable 24/7. An unlicensed electrician might overload a circuit and leave you making daily trips to the breaker box to reset a tripped breaker, or worse!

When it comes to fit and finish items like windows, doors and hardware, the best move is to go for “like kind and quality” to what is existing in the remainder of your home. This is the best way to ensure that your remodeled area isn’t dramatically different from the rest of your home. Don’t be tempted by the least expensive products you can find. Hiring only licensed professionals to work on your home is well worth the extra cost if there is any. It’s worth your time to check licenses and ask for proof of insurance.


You may be tempted to think: “Can’t we just skip the permit on this one?” The answer is always no. Skipping the permit is tempting but never worth it. Never. If a job is simple, the permitting process probably is too. If a job is complicated, the permitting process will help you be doubly sure you’re not making some very costly mistake. 

Skipping the permit can result in spending tens of thousands of dollars on something and then literally being forced to completely demolish it because it extends beyond a building setback. The permit process also compares your plans to the building code to make sure important safety concerns are being addressed. Insist that all work on your home be properly permitted through the local building department. If you’re told something doesn’t require a permit, call and verify that.


This happens when a homeowner decides to act as his or her own general contractor, but that’s not the only way this can happen. Another common scenario is having the skills to do all of the work but not the time. Juggling a full-time job and a large remodeling project can be overwhelming even when you’ve got a team of professionals working for you. It can be completely impossible if you’re trying to do it all yourself. In the long-run all intended savings evaporate because mistakes get made, things take longer and expenses add up.

Don’t overload yourself. If you’re working full-time, just be realistic about how many all-nighters and working weekends you can handle. For most people anything more than a three- or four-week stretch is going to lead to a meltdown, and most large jobs take longer than that, especially when you’re working in your spare time. Consider how much money it really costs to hire professionals to help you. If that cost pushes your project out of your budget, consider cutting back on the project scope and potentially knocking out your project in phases. 

Success is the good fortune that comes from aspiration, desperation, perspiration and inspiration.

– Evan Esar
before and after home improvements | Century 21 Action

You can read more about these and other home improvement mistakes not to make and how to avoid them in this article by realestate.com. Wishing you a happy and successful home improvement project!

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Home Improvement Mistakes NOT To Make | Century 21 Action

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