If possible, live in your house for a while before making any plans to overhaul. “Learn its flow, where the groceries land, where the laundry wants to go, how the sun hits it, where the choke points are, which way the rain slants, even get a sense of its soul,” says Bruce Irving, an independent renovation consultant and real estate agent from Cambridge, Massachusetts. “All of this will inform your choices when you make your plans to change things.”
2. Underestimating costs
Most jobs will cost more and take longer than you expect, so always add 20 percent to what you think a project will total when budgeting “If you don’t have the funds,” cautions Irving, “cut the job back. If you happen to beat these projections, then your surprises are happy ones.”
3. Expecting everything to go according to plan
Work on older buildings can yield a lot of unforeseen events. Who knows what’s behind that wall you’re opening up? New construction is more controlled, but that doesn’t always mean smooth sailing. Be prepared for the unexpected. “It’s a human failing,” says Irving. “We all hope and pray everything goes according to plan.” Trust us: Nothing will.
4. Not hiring a designer from the start
“You are about to spend more than you ever thought possible,” says Irving. “It might as well be for a correctly-designed thing.” Interiors designers and architects typically either charge by the hour or take a percentage of the overall job (say, 10 percent)—a small sum compared your total payout.