5 Most Common Home Renovation Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Text by Kristin Amico Photography by Monica Banks

Home renovations can be stressful. It’s a process far more complex than reality TV shows make it seem, and this can add tensions to relationships while putting a dent in the pocketbook. But there are ways to avoid the most common home renovation mistakes, making for a much smoother process that won’t stress you or your family out.

We spoke to Monica Banks of Grand Banks Building Products for expert tips on how to navigate your home renovation like a pro. She stresses that a little planning goes a long way in creating your dream home. Here are most common home renovation mistakes she sees people make when they embark on a remodeling journey.

home renovation mistakes pitcher with flowersRenovating your home without a goal

“It may seem like an obvious question, but we often meet with people who are intrigued by the idea of a home remodel but don’t have specific goals for the project,” notes Banks. This is where she encourages them to take a step back and visualize their dream outcome, while also making a prioritized list of must-have features. To do so, consider the following:

How long do you plan to live in the house? Is this a remodel to upgrade outdated rooms to increase sale price in a year or two, or do you plan to live in the home long term?

How are you using your home? Are you looking for eye-catching yet pragmatic designs to accommodate a growing family? Are you downsizing? Is it a vacation home that needs to accommodate frequent guests of various ages?

What do you want your home to feel like? Do you love the Danish concept of Hygge where the main goal is to be cozy, especially in winter, curled up with cocoa, blankets, and your favorite TV show? Or are you more of a minimalist, opting for clean lines or more formal furnishings?

After you have a general vision, that’s when Banks says it’s time to drill down to specific design elements.

home renovation mistakes kitchen islandOverlooking the importance of windows

Windows are often overlooked, but they are a critical component to a home’s style and energy efficiency,” advises Banks.

They are an investment, but with dramatic New England weather, they should be high on the priority list. But consider the materials, not just the style, Banks suggests.

“You may go into the renovation project thinking that wood windows are the best fit for your home, but before making the final decision, take a look at modern materials, too.”

For example, fiberglass offers advanced durability, is rot resistant, and comes in a wide range of styles that replicate the look and feel of traditional wood. Also note the insulation rating, which will have a huge impact on utility bills.

home renovation mistakes snowy landscapeNot considering door materials

Like windows, Banks also notes that many customers are looking for wood doors for their home’s exterior. But advanced technologies, including fiberglass, are more cost effective than wood and come in a wide range of colors. It’s worth researching all your options––and the possibilities may surprise you.

If you do find a wood door that’s a perfect match for your home, be sure that it’s in a covered entryway, protected by eaves. In addition to adding years to the door’s life, many companies consider the warranty void if the door is left uncovered.

home renovation mistakes subway tilesPrioritizing form over function in kitchens

“The best advice I can give to homeowners whose remodel includes the kitchen is to be open to new ideas and materials,” says Banks. She sees numerous people who have ideas about how they want their kitchen to look, but haven’t considered functionality.

One of the biggest requests is for a kitchen island, but consider space and seating arrangements. If you love the idea of an island, work with your builder to create custom cabinetry that affords you seating and meal prep space without sacrificing appearance.

“And I might sound like a broken record, but it’s all about materials, materials, materials, especially in the most trafficked room in the house,” cautions Banks.

While marble countertops may look stunning, they aren’t very durable. They will etch and chip with use, and they take a lot of effort to maintain. Instead, look at materials like engineered stone that replicate the patterns in marble but offer a nonporous finish that can take the abuse. Likewise, when choosing cabinetry, consider how many times those doors will be open and shut each day. Custom or semicustom products will last more than twenty years, while stock cabinetry won’t.

potted plantOverlooking small details

According to Banks, the best way to avoid home renovation mistakes is to “ask questions and seek out expert resources who can help illuminate issues that you may not have even considered.”

Some of those small details include cabinetry finishes as well as hardware, such as drawer pulls or window locks. While you may find attractive hardware, consider its functionality, size, and durability. Can kids and adults easily grasp and open the cabinets, and will the finishes withstand the use?

Grand Banks Building Products, Gloucester, Mass., 978-281-2421

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