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13 Common Budget-Busting Mistakes When Renovating Your Home

Renovating Your Home

Finding a home is a stressful experience itself. But buying a fixer-upper or completely redoing your existing home is fraught with anxious decisions and frighteningly high costs. You can make many costly mistakes when renovating your home, and if you aren’t careful, it will ruin your experience. And in the worst case, you will lose passion for your renovation project.

Messing with Utilities while Unqualified

It needs to be said, if you aren’t qualified to do something, then don’t do it. Messing with electrics, water pipes, and gas lines will end in disaster if you don’t know what you’re doing. It’s also illegal in many places to do jobs like these because of the dangers involved. Faulty wires, water pooling, and gas leaks are some of the issues that can crop up. It’s always worth the cost to hire professionals who can take care of complex jobs rather than face the expensive, legal, and tragic consequences that can occur. Set aside some money for jobs that need to be done.

Last-Minute Additions to Your Design

One of the main reasons a renovation job goes over budget is last-minute additions. When you begin a home job, you should pick out and buy everything you need before the job starts. That way, you know what you need and when. Always make sure you want the fittings and fixtures you choose. Don’t make decisions that change anything throughout or near the end of the project. Mid-project decisions add time and cost money. Your contractor won’t take it lightly and will likely charge you a premium for changing things. This will eat your budget.

Not Planning for Mistakes when Renovating Your Home

During the pandemic, renovation spending increased by almost 40%. That’s a lot of work for contractors. And with so many jobs to juggle, you can guarantee that things will go wrong. Before the pandemic, it was good to plan for mistakes and draw up contingencies. There are almost no mistakes that can’t be fixed, but they do happen. An error in renovation can cost you a lot of money if it is your fault, and more time will be added to your project. A common practice is to set aside 10% of your overall budget to account for any mistakes that happen.

Not Agreeing on a Budget with Contractors

Further to your budget, always ensure you get written confirmation of agreed costs with contractors. Contractors are a business, and they’re there to make money. Of course, reputable contractors will do a great job, but hidden costs and fees can be. For instance, if they come to your project on a non-standard workday, it’s guaranteed they will add the cost to your budget. Always keep an open dialog with any contractors and make sure you know exactly what they will charge and when. Then you will see where you stand when it comes to paying them.

Living in the Home You are Fixing Up

Don’t live in the house you are renovating unless you really need to. A renovations project can be like a building site, and no one wants to live in those conditions. In addition, a renovation can be hazardous, and you are in real danger should something go wrong. Walls can fall, there are wires and cables everywhere, and there’s a lot of dust in the air. Finally, you may fall out of love with your project if you live in the same house. The poor living conditions will likely cause stress and anxiety as you lose privacy and access to utilities when you need them most.

Paying for Things You Can Do Yourself

In a perfect world, you can pay someone to do everything in your dream home. But it’s likely your budget isn’t unlimited. So you must reserve funds for the most complex and expert jobs. Fortunately, you can save a ton of money by doing some easier jobs for yourself. These include:

  • Painting and decorating.
  • Cleaning surfaces and wiping down.
  • Regrouting tiles.
  • Placing furniture.
  • Fitting cosmetics.
  • Stripping rooms.
  • Removal of items.

Of course, there are many more things you can DIY. Anything you know you can handle yourself, then do it. Even small jobs like removing furniture take a large chunk of your budget. Enlist the help of friends and family if you need to. Just buy a pizza, and everyone’s happy.

Using the Cheapest Available Contractors

You want to save as much as you can when it comes to budgeting. Saving includes doing things yourself, making last-minute changes, and agreeing on prices with contractors. However, you should also consider contractors carefully. Not all are reputable, and unfortunately, some will rip you off. It’s not always easy to find a good contractor but never go for the cheapest. Substantially lower fees are a dead giveaway. There’s a reason they are affordable and readily available. Look for contractors with a good reputation, even if they are more expensive.

Failing to Get the Right Permits for Certain Jobs

Depending on your renovation work, you may or may not need permits. For example, structural auditions usually require permission from your local government. However, for the most part, your contractors will take care of permits needed for specific jobs. For example, certain gas, water, and electrical jobs require permits, as does some landscaping. Some jobs also require building regulations approval and inspections. Ask your contractors about permits and whether they are included in the price. If you aren’t sure, they can arrange them but might charge more.

Mistakes when Renovating Your Home Include Time 

Unlike money, you can’t make more time. However, you can develop a timeline for getting things done. Setting a project timeline is crucial because it means you always know where you are. From a financial perspective, you also keep costs down. For contractors, time means money, and the longer they do a job, the more it costs you. Work with contractors to come to a reasonable arrangement for getting things done based on your project timeline. It’s also good to have your lawyer make a contract to ensure everyone sticks to their agreed timelines.

Not Shopping Around for Better Deals

Like shopping for food and clothing, don’t just get the first one you see of something you want. A home renovation is expensive, so be prepared for costs. You can cut costs by shopping around for better deals on things you need for your home. Many DIY and furniture stores often hold sales and promotions, so check with them when these are coming up, and hold off getting essentials until then. Even stuff like wallpaper, paint, and tiles can become expensive. So just ask if they can do them any cheaper or if there are any sales on particular items.

Not Getting Proper Insurance Cover

You can get insurance cover for just about anything these days. And it’s essential you get insurance for a home renovation. With a renovation project, pretty anything can happen, and you don’t want to be held hostage to Murphy’s Law. Common insurance types for renovation include property liability if a contractor is hurt and unoccupied home insurance if you aren’t staying at the house. Then you can also get standard fire, theft, and flood insurance which covers you in the event of any of these likely and very common scenarios. 


Any home renovation project is likely to cost a significant amount of money. Of course, as a savvy renovator, you will have a budget and stick to it. But some things are likely to eat into your budget if you aren’t careful. Some of the most common include trying to do expert work you aren’t qualified for, not making contingencies, and using cheap contractors for your project.

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