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4 Common Home Renovation Regrets and How to Avoid Them

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When thinking back on her home renovation, Sandy wishes she’d done things differently. “Rather than committing to a full renovation in one go, I did bits and bobs here and there,” she says. “I wish I’d simply knocked it out all once — from a budget perspective and a peace-of-mind one, too!”

Undertaking a home renovation is an exciting time, but it also requires a lot of foresight, research, and planning. And once they’re finished, many home renovators are underwhelmed instead of in love with the final product. According to a survey conducted on behalf of Scyon Walls, a wall and floring company, as many as one in three renovators experience renovation regret.

Steve Pisani, the national builder business manager at James Hardie, shares the most common reasons home renovators are left disappointed, and how you can avoid them.

Regret #1: Not Getting the Right Look

“We discovered that for over three quarters of renovators, the finished look of the home is the most important factor above anything else,” says Pisani. Unfortunately many renovators are left with a space that doesn’t reflect their initial vision.

The Solution: Know your look. “Try creating a mood board,” says Pisani, “No doubt you’re already scouring social media and magazines for inspiration, so collect the images that express your style.” Collecting images and creating a mood board to inspire your home’s style direction is a technique that certainly has our seal of approval.

Beyond a mood board, Pisani recommends “getting to know the terminology for your look.” If you’re trying to create a Hampton’s-style façade and boost your home’s street appeal, then you’ll need to know about weatherboard cladding, and the building materials available to bring your dream to life on time and on budget. 

“Materials play an important role in the look and function of a home. However, builders will often rely on the products they’ve always used, instead of modern options,” says Pisani.

Regret #2: Missing the Mark on Functionality

Anyone who has ever renovated will know that things rarely go smoothly. According to the survey, 80 percent of renovators forced to compromise on the things they want due budget constraints, design issues, and other requirements. This leads to knee-jerk decision-making, which can impact the functionality of the completed space.

The Solution: “Decide on your priorities,” says Pisani. “If entertaining is a priority but you have to reduce the size of your dining area, could you use some of the garden area to create an outdoor  space? This will allow you to compromise on space but not on your enjoyment of how you live and use your home.”

One of interior designer Kristy McGregor’s biggest renovation tips is to become a list person and document everything. Keeping a list of your priorities and your budget “makes it easier to see items you can take out of the budget if needed without compromising the end result,” she says.

Regret #3: Redoing the Reno

Interior designers turned DIY renovators, Josh and Adriana of The Salted Chair, didn’t realize how difficult painting their mid-century fibro home could be without the right materials. “One thing we didn’t realize is that paint brands can be very different. The first one we tried just wasn’t binding and was leaving a blotchy finish. We had to repaint the whole house.”

The Solution: Do your research and find products that work for you and your home’s needs. “Once you’ve done your research and decided on the right material for you, it’s important to specify products by name to your builder,” says Pisani.

For example, if you’re thinking of channeling a coastal vibe with an all-white interior, you may want to install cladding for some added interest and texture. Cladding comes primed and ready to paint, and is less prone to flaking, warping, and swelling.

Regret #4: Following the Wrong Advice

So you’ve got a solid vision of what you want to achieve, you have your list of priorities, and you’ve done your research. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you’re the expert. “The survey highlighted the need for consumers to have a better understanding of the building process and material options,” says Pisani.

The Solution: Take the advice of renovators who have learned the hard way and find a good builder or architect who understands your vision. Renovators Anna and Tom, who revamped their inner-city home, attribute the success of their renovation to keeping the channels of communication open with their builder at every stage. “I’d get calls in the morning to say, ‘Hey, do you want to come down and have a look?” she says. “I never felt like I couldn’t pick up the phone.”

Not only is it a good idea to get the best from your builders by being upfront, asking questions, and working collaboratively, Pisani recommends looking for “builders who have delivered similar projects and are comfortable with the materials you specify.”

This article originally appeared on our sister site, Homes to Love.

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