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    10 Common Pitfalls of Remodeling (Part Two)

    JimWe are told at a very early age to learn from other people’s mistakes, good advice that some of us follow better than others. In remodeling, there are many things you can do to avoid the common mistakes that delay and sometimes derail projects. Last month I covered the first five of these pitfalls that included:

    Out of Sync Get the decision makers on the same page before the project begins.

    Budget Denial Embrace the need for a detailed budget and accept that things will cost more than you think.

    Risk Aversion Recognize the importance of keeping a contingency fund for unexpected expenses.

    False Impressions Do your homework before signing on with a contractor or designer.

    Foregone conclusion Remain open to new design solutions all the way through the process.

    This month I am covering the remaining five pitfalls on the list:

    6. Fantasy Life Just because you are going to have a new kitchen, bathroom or family room doesn’t mean that your family is going to morph into the fantasy version of itself. Super-minimal interiors look great in magazines, but don’t work for most active families. Design your new space for real life, not your fantasy life.

    7. The Lowest Bidder When interviewing designers and contractors, make sure to get a detailed written summary of what’s included in their quotes. Take the time to compare and contrast the quotes to understand the differences and assess the value equation for each. If a contractor claims to operate with very low overhead, make sure that they are fully insured and that they have the resources to handle your project. A low bid at the start of the project does not always translate to a low cost when the work is completed.

    8. Permit Phobia Permits are required for most remodeling projects, except for cosmetic changes like painting and new flooring. It is a very good idea to have construction work done in your home documented and inspected by the building department. Permits are a very good investment to help manage financial risk, protect your home and maximize the return on your remodeling investment. Remodels that are done with permits add more value to your house at time of sale than remodels that are done without them.

    9. Are We There Yet? Patience is a virtue, especially in remodeling. Once you have made the decision to embark on a project, give yourself the time to explore options and make smart decisions. Typically, the more time and resources that you invest in the design and planning phase, the more likely you will avoid delays and costly overruns during production.

    10. Perfection Anxiety As a homeowner and customer, you should expect quality craftsmanship that is commensurate with the investment you are making in the remodel. That said, you should also recognize that quality craftsmanship is not the same thing as perfection. The goal of remodeling is not to eradicate all of the idiosyncrasies that give your home its character. Nor is it to make the work of the craftspeople look as if it was done by precision machinery. Set and maintain high standards for the project,  but be realistic about the finished product.

    Remodeling can be an expensive, complex and stressful endeavor. Hopefully this list will help you proactively avoid the common pitfalls and avoid the hassle and expense of learning the painful lessons first hand.

    Jim Tibbs is the creative director of HDR Remodeling. If you would like to learn more, please read his blog at or follow him on Twitter @HDRremodeling1.