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We don’t have to tell you that embarking on a home renovation is an exhausting, time-consuming, labourous, expensive process. No matter how much you want to see the renovations through, there will be at least one moment when you seriously ask yourself if it’s possible to just stop everything and learn to live with exposed electrical wires, tarps for walls and a floor made of plywood. No one would notice, right?

There’s no way to make home renos easy–Mike Holmes always seems stressed out of his mind–but there are a few common mistakes people tend to make that can cause more pain and suffering than necessary. We can’t promise a painless process–no one can–but avoiding these big pitfalls could help ease the headache (and the wallet-ache).

Picking the wrong contractor

This is huge; you need to be picky about your contractor because you’re trusting them with your house and your money. Bring through at least three different people and get quotes from all of them. Talk to people you know about the contractors that they’ve used and how they operate. Were they happy with their work? Were they easy to get along with? Did they clean up the area when the renos were done? Word of mouth is the best way to know how good a contractor is. Don’t pick someone just because they talk a good game or have a fancy website.

Before you commit to someone, make sure they (and their subcontractors) have the required (and up-to-date) licences and insurance. Also have them write down everything line by line with costs so that you know exactly what’s going on and what you’re paying for.

Rushing the process

Don’t let your excitement get the better of you. It’s going to take time. Always assume that your project is going to take a few weeks to a month longer than the estimate. Not only that, don’t rush your planning process either. Measure everything multiple times, try your plan a couple different ways, take your time selecting the contractor. Rushing something more often than not means that you’ll need to go back and fix mistakes at some point.

Unrealistic budgeting

Everything you do during your renovation is going to cost money. The price of materials is increasing (especially lumber), so everything is going to cost more than you think. When you’re making your budget, make sure you have up-to-date information and that you go through the whole thing with your contractor. Then make sure you have a 20 per cent contingency worked into your budget for mishaps and surprises. How many times do contractors on TV pull away some drywall to find mold, asbestos, water damage and a large family of rats in the wall? Every episode of every home renovation show EVER. Make sure you have the money to deal with those problems if/when they arise.

Looking for deals in the wrong places

You want to save money where you can, but don’t always go for the cheapest option. You have to pay for quality and you generally need these materials to last a long time. Cheap laminate can look nice for a while, but it’s prone to warping and it’s impossible to repair. Look for the best quality for your buck, ask around and do your research. You save money in the long run if your materials last for decades.

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