The point of today's article is two-fold. Primarily we're going to talk about those decisions made during remodeling that many homeowners regret. And secondly, we're just going to talk about this as a way to take a break from all the virus talk. I recognize it is a stressful and slightly scary time. I just want to get a bit of a respite from the fervor and talk about homes! Here we go.

The first regret we'll cover today is fairly pervasive in many different areas of our lives; and that is not budgeting properly. We can certainly try to plan for surprises, but that is their very nature: surprise! Most experts recommend a 10 - 20% buffer in your planning stage. I think this is a great idea. I don't know of a single person that has tackled a home remodeling project and finished up with a pile of cash left over.

This planning can take many forms. You can include a straight-up cash buffer so you can cover any unforeseen overages. You can also budget for more time and more resources overall. Living in Lincoln during my home construction, I was always guilty of buying a smidge more supplies when I would make the trip to the home supply store up in Littleton. Being over an hour (round-trip) from supplies encourages one to plan ahead a bit and buy more than is needed. They are also very good at taking returns of unused stuff.

Another mis-step of remodeling projects is overestimating your skills. Watch enough DIY television and you will start to believe you are as skilled as the folks in front of the camera. The reality is they are (or have hired) trained professionals and much of what you are seeing is a finished product. If they were at my house, they would have to cut out lots of (not suitable for TV) language and piles of frustration. Chances are, you'll spend more money having someone come in to fix what you started (The classic "basket case" scenario) versus just hiring them in the first place.

When I was building my house my carpenter encouraged me to hire someone for the insulation, sheetrock and roofing. All of those tasks, while seemingly doable and simple, were just not worth the hassle. I stuck to more basic tasks like laying the flooring, painting and pulling the wiring. Those were all helpful tasks that shaved time and cost off the construction and none of them were particularly technical or difficult. I'd recommend the same strategy for a remodel. Stick to the basics (or what you know you can do) and let the pro's handle the other stuff. You'll likely save more money in the long run.

My mom told me (years and years ago) that she stopped buying the cheap socks for my brother and I, when we were kids, because they simply didn't last. She learned that buying a higher quality product lasted longer and was more cost-effective in the long run. It turns out, this advice applies to home remodeling projects as well. Hiring the cheapest contractor is not always the best option. You will often be stuck re-doing the work or having someone more qualified come in to finish a poorly done (or unfinished) job.

Part of the trick with hiring a contractor is references and history. "If a contractor can't provide references and photos of past work, chances are they (and their past customers) are not proud of their work," notes Badger Realty agent, Kathleen Sullivan Head. "While references and photos are not fool-proof, another human's recommendation is worth its weight in gold," she continued.

With managing people, specific instruction is paramount to getting exactly the result you want. Poor communication and lack of specifics inevitably lead to disappointment and frustration. The same is true with remodeling and the hiring of professionals. If you are unable to clearly outline what you are looking for, it will be very difficult for you and the contractor to land in the same spot.

As a web developer, I'm often asked to "spice up" a website or "make it more modern". Those instructions are literally useless and provide no direction whatsoever. If you are hiring a professional, be sure to include specific examples with photographs from magazines or online. It is also very helpful if you learn (at least) some of the terminology that these pro's work with. You will be able to precisely describe what you are after and will be far happier with the final outcome.

Remodeling projects are fun, exciting, challenging and (potentially) expensive. Take a little time up front to get your proverbial ducks in a row. This sets both you and your contractor(s) up for success before the first wall is removed. Stay safe out there (or at home!) and happy planning!

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