Remodeling has become one of America’s favorite pastimes. Whether you are remodeling your kitchen, adding a new addition, or putting in a sunroom, remodeling can be an enjoyable experience and a great way to increase the value of your single largest asset. One of the most exciting aspects of remodeling is planning the project. Not only is planning fun, it is also very important to the success of the job. Unfortunately, however, there are a number of problems that can occur when making changes to your home. But with some foresight and some common sense, you can eliminate most of these potential problems before they have the chance to take root. These are the ten biggest mistakes made by homeowners when they undertake a remodeling project:

#1. Hiring the Wrong Contractor

Deciding who to hire for your remodeling project may be the most important decision you will have to make. Employing a professional contractor is a safeguard that your home improvement will be done right, within budget and on time. When hiring a contractor, check to make sure that he or she is bonded, insured, meets all state licensing requirements, and is a member of a professional trade association such as the Delchester Chapter of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry. Professional remodelers are listed on their website or you can contact their office at (610) 363-8001. Visit or visit the national website at for additional tips when hiring a contractor.

#2. Improper Planning

Your finished project will only be as good as the design and planning that went into it. Whether you are doing the remodel yourself or hiring a contractor, it is important to look over the blueprints and schematics to make sure the design is exactly what you want. If you are building an addition, be sure your current heating and air conditioning system has the capacity to heat and cool the extra space. If a contractor is handling the work, he or she should know if the system needs to be upgraded. Without proper planning, you probably won’t end up with the home improvement you have been dreaming about. Not only can the project look unsightly, it can also end up costing you a lot of money to fix unexpected problems and make changes. Planning is essential.

#3. Not Considering all Options

Even if you think you have the perfect design for your home, be open to suggestions. Avoid picking new colors for your home based on a sample card from a paint store. The small cards are not enough of a guide to judge color intensity. Instead, paint a poster board with your desired color and put it on the wall. Look at it during different times of the day and from various distances to decide if this is the color you really want. Increasing your imagination and visualizing alternative choices allows you to make better, more informed decisions. It also helps to talk to your contractor or interior designer about the different options available on the market. Their Expertise can save you time, money and frustration.

#4. Picking Inferior Products to Save Money

Your home is your most valuable asset, and it pays to protect that asset. This means not using low quality products when remodeling. Even though there are a variety of design techniques and products available on today’s market, you don’t want to cut corners in the hopes of saving a few dollars and put quality at risk. This is especially true if you plan on staying in your home for a long time. Inferior products can be a hazard to you and your home. They can also end up costing you more in the long run through increased energy bills, maintenance costs, and replacement fees.

#5. Over Extending Yourself on a Do-It-Yourself Project

Creating additional problems and not having the expertise to finish a project once you start it are two pitfalls encountered by do-it-yourselfers. Not only will you have to deal with the added levels of frustration, but you costs can skyrocket when additional work needs to be done. You might have trouble finding a contractor who will fix your problems. Some remodelers refuse to take on a do-it-yourself project gone bad. And with contractors busier than ever, it may be a long time before one can fit your job into an already busy schedule. Even though most homeowners enjoy working around the home, there comes a time when a job is just too big for their capabilities. Before starting a job, know what is involved and what your limitations are.

#6. Starting a Job at the Wrong Time

Timing is critical when planning a home improvement project. Pick a start date that best fits your schedule and your contractor’s schedule. Be realistic. Don’t expect a kitchen remodeling to be completed in two weeks when it could take more than a month just to get the cabinets from the manufacturer. Timing the project can also reduce stress. You don’t want to have your kitchen torn apart when you are planning a holiday dinner or have your water turned off while hosting company. If you are planning an addition and need to have part of your home opened up, think about what time of year would be best to have the home exposed to the weather. You may want to plan your family vacation to coincide with the remodeling project.

#7. The Domino Effect

It’s easy for homeowners to fall prey to the domino effect – so watch out. This happens when you have one room in the home remodeled, such as the kitchen, and it looks so good that you want to have the living room done, then the bedroom, then the bathroom. Before you know it, you have the contractor working on every room in your house. If you are looking to overextend your budget, this is a great way to do it. It’s natural to ask your contractor questions while he or she is on your home but don’t be impulsive. If you decide to have another room remodeled, go through the same careful planning stages that you took for your initial project and create a new budget.

#8. Not Managing your Budget

You created a budget for a good reason – so stick to it. You don’t want to end up short on cash and not able to finish the project and you don’t want to end up so far in debt that you will regret ever making any home improvements. Work with your contractor. He or she should know how much money you are willing to invest in the remodeling project, and the professional can help your job stay within cost. You should also keep ten percent of your budget as a reserve for the unexpected. Unforeseen costs will inevitably arise and you don’t want to get caught unprepared. The reserve will allow for any sudden increase in materials.

#9. Over Remodeling for your Neighborhood

No matter how much money you invest in your home, there is only so much that you can recoup if you decide to sell it. So if resale is in your future, know your limits. Check the real estate market to see what homes in your area are worth. You will not increase the resale value of your home by remodeling is your home is already at its maximum value for your neighborhood. If you plan to stay in your home for a long period of time, however, then spend whatever is necessary on remodeling to make you feel comfortable.

#10. Not Knowing Your Rights

Before you sign any contract, be sure you know what is involved. Don’t blindly sign any contract and sign away your rights as a consumer. A contract should include a comprehensive description of the project, a payment schedule, a timetable, and the types of products that will be used. The responsibilities of the contractor and any subcontractors should also be detailed. A contract also needs to list provisions for warranties, changes in procedures, and in case problems arise, alternative dispute resolution clauses.