7 Signs You Should Put Off—or Call Off—a Home Renovation
But hold on: No matter how good your intentions may be, a hasty home overhaul can actually wind up costing you.
So what are the signs that it’s time to pump the brakes on your home renovation plans? We asked a number of construction and real estate experts to tap into their own experiences and share the situations in which they would recommend you delay the project—or avoid it altogether.
1. You plan to cut corners on the wrong things
There are numerous ways to reduce the cost of a renovation—from using your own DIY capabilities to choosing less expensive materials. But quality labor is one of the things you should always invest in.
“Spending on expensive materials but cheap craftsmanship is a big mistake,” says Gianpaolo Manzolillo, a licensed real estate salesperson at Citi Habitats in Brooklyn, NY. “You can buy beautiful hardwood floors, but if they are installed with big, uneven gaps, they aren’t worth a dime.”
2. It’s the wrong time of the year
Any contractor or neighbor who has undergone a renovation will tell you that weather can make or break a construction job. Winter storms can wreak havoc in the East, Midwest, and parts of the Northwest.
Hurricane season for the Atlantic Basin peaks from mid-August to late October. So folks in those regions should take into account inclement weather before planning a remodel.
“Running into a snowy or rainy season could mean leaks, lack of proper heating, and electrical problems.” says Jody Costello, a home renovation planning and contractor fraud expert.
3. You have no room for errors
Even if bad weather doesn’t come into play, home renovations are rarely completed on time, and you should factor this into your decision.
“Permits can issue later than expected, inspections can get delayed, and subcontractors can be busy—and all these factors can impact schedules,” says Dan Meyer, co-founder and CEO of Pocketdoor, an app that helps homeowners coordinate their home projects.
A delay or error in a reno project could put you out of your home for an extra week or month. Can’t afford the imposition? Then you may need to think twice about starting the work.
4. You need to borrow funds
One of the ways to pay for a renovation is to borrow money or refinance your home. But Robert Taylor, owner of The Real Estate Solutions Guy in Sacramento, CA, warns against this practice.
“It may seem like common sense, but you shouldn’t do renovation projects that you have to borrow funds for,” he says. Taylor does make two exceptions: When you’re going to sell your home within six months, or if your home has a serious safety risk.
5. You think it’s as easy as TV makes it seem
It’s hard to not be blinded by the high-glam transformations on home improvement reality shows like “Fixer Upper” or “Property Brothers.” The magic of television can make it seem as if making over a house is a piece of cake. Hate to burst your bubble, but there are many behind-the-scene costs and considerations that these shows just don’t show.
“We all see the television shows where they are able to completely renovate a house in what feels like a week—and for a very unrealistic budget,” says Mark Luongo, owner and project manager at Luongo Electric in Burnaby, BC. “Many times, these television budgets do not include the cost of labor, the materials and finishings (which are usually donated to the show), or the contracting and management fees that the network picks up.”
So before you take on a renovation, it’s important to research every cost and have an emergency fund, because there’s a very good chance that the process of overhauling your home will not be as smooth as it’s presented on TV.
6. You’re over-improving for the neighborhood
Even if you have the budget and time for a remodel, it could hurt you if you ever decide to sell your home.
“Real estate agents, appraisers, and lenders use comparable market values to assess the fair market value of a home,” says Jodi Moody of Smoky Mountain Realty in Lenoir City, TN. “If you have a $275,000 home and want to put in a $50,000 kitchen, you’d likely want the new asking price to be at least $325,000,” she adds.
“But if the cost per square foot average of your subdivision only supports a sales price of $295,000, your home becomes a harder sale later on.”
In this instance, it doesn’t really matter how great the renovation looks—what counts is how it compares to the other homes in your area. “Your granite kitchen may provide no return on the money spent, if the rest of the neighborhood is using upgraded laminate,” Manzolillo says.
7. You’re trying to make your partner happy
“Renovations can be very stressful on a relationship: They are expensive, messy, and intrusive on your personal life,” says Luongo. So, make sure you’re both in favor of the home improvement project and that your relationship can handle it.
A remodel is something that should never be rushed or used as a Band-Aid to make your partner happy. “There is nothing worse than rushing into a renovation and doing a patch-together job just to try and make someone happier,” he says.