This is a list I've compiled after observing people and their remodels for nearly two decades. It's true that contractors and subcontractors and vendors all have their faults. The remodeling industry is wacky, no doubt about it. But it is your own actions that will make or break your own project.
How do homeowners screw up? Let me count the ways:
1. Being vague about what you want. A primary reason remodels go over time and over budget is from homeowner indecision and homeowners making changes midway through the job. The solution: Massive research on your part before you call in the professionals.
2. Remaining unclear about your budget. When you do call in professionals to help you, they are stymied by not knowing how much you want to spend. Do you want a Kia-quality kitchen, or a Lexus-quality kitchen? Refer to No. 1 above to discover your desires.
3. Not seeking professional design advice. Why would you not want experts helping you? For a few hundred or thousand dollars you can avoid most of the clumsy pitfalls novices tend to make.
4. Not checking out the companies you're considering. This is critical. Do an Internet search. Check for licenses, insurance and bonding. Call references. Go visit references. You skip these steps only if you're a diehard gambler.
5. Taking the lowest bid and expecting highest quality. You shouldn't be getting bids, anyway. You should find the contractor you want and the designer you want and have them work together to create your project.
6. Changing your mind over and over during construction. Again, this relates to No. 1 above, as well as No. 3. A remodeling project is a massive ballet where every move must be timed and choreographed. When you decide partway through that you’d prefer a different tile or a door or window here or there, it screws up the flow and more mistakes are made. It’s costly.
7. Overestimating your ability to handle stress. Unless you’re super gregarious and love tackling problems, you will be stressed out during your remodel. You need a plan: trips, massages, dinners out, long baths, meditation, prayer. Or, move out until it’s done. That’s stressful, too, but at least you have a quiet place to rejuvenate.
8. Underestimating how long a remodel takes. It will take longer than you think. Most remodels do. We don’t live inside a half-hour cable show where a whole room is redone in 22 minutes. So to avoid unnecessary stress, just plan on a long haul.
9. Lashing out harshly at the crew. Oh, my, this is so stupid. This is uber stupid. You don’t want people cringing when they come to your house. They don’t do their best work in a tense environment. Remain civil. Try compassion. Be firm but loving. Just do the Golden Rule (and not the version that says the one who has the gold makes the rules).
10. Lack of appreciation for what scores of workers have gone through to make your dream remodel come true. The homeowners I talk to who are happiest go on and on about the amazing work that was done at their homes. They revel in the generosity of sprit from the workers. Try this.