Never Make These 3 Home Renovation Mistakes

I should have known better.

No matter how much experience you have, it’s still easy to make stupid home renovation mistakes.

I’ve been in construction for over 15 years. My focus has been helping owners and clients avoid the common pitfalls of the industry. My job is to help everyday people (who aren’t construction experts) complete projects that meet their objectives, budgets, and timelines.

You know the saying, “Practice what you preach”? Well, despite all my professional experience, I failed to remember my own rules during my recent bathroom renovation.

I woke up early this morning to the sound of dripping water on my bathroom floor. I immediately thought to myself, “I should have known better.” I walked into the bathroom and witnessed a re-creation of Niagara Falls raining my ceiling.

“It was at that moment, I realized that my ‘cheap and easy’ remodel was now turning into a major hassle and money pit.”
Here at GreatBuildz, a free service that connects homeowners in Los Angeles, Orange County, Ventura & San Diego with reliable general contractors, we hear far too many ‘home renovation mistakes’ stories like the one above…

First, I chose an unlicensed contractor to handle my remodel.

Never Make These 3 Home Renovation Mistakes 1

I mentioned to my neighbor I was planning a bathroom renovation and he recommended a good contractor-friend of his. I did some research on the guy and noticed he didn’t have a contractor license, but he did have good reviews online. I gave him a call and he came out to give me an estimate. He seemed like a nice guy, easy to work with, and the quote he gave me was excellent. 

I thought to myself, “what could go wrong, I’m in construction. I can manage contractor better than any overpriced licensed general contractor could.” As I looked up at the gaps in the seal around my new skylight, I immediately realized this was a terrible decision and one of my first home renovation mistakes.

“To get a license, a contractor has to prove to the state that they have requisite knowledge and experience to handle their line of work.”

Now, could a licensed contractor have made the same mistake? Perhaps. A license doesn’t make a contractor more trustworthy, but at least it shows legitimacy. To get a license, a contractor has to prove to the state that they have requisite knowledge and experience to handle their line of work. Again, a license won’t guarantee a successful renovation…

But I am willing to bet that a licensed roofer would know that a roof leaks when there’s a two-inch gap in the middle of it. Read our other blog post about reasons not to use an unlicensed contractor.


Second, I wasn’t involved in the renovation process.

“One of the biggest points I make to my clients is to ‘trust, but verify.’ ”

I stress that they need someone dedicated to watching over the progress on their projects. Whether you hire a professional or do it yourself, someone needs to be representing your personal interests involved in the job. Someone needs to ensure the project stays on schedule and keep an eye on the contractor’s work.
For my bathroom renovation, I didn’t do that. Work was busy, I was traveling, life happens! I couldn’t keep up with my contractor and I didn’t want to spend the money on a project manager. Looking back, this was definitely one if not my biggest home renovation mistakes of all. If I, or a project manager, had been monitoring the construction, it would have been easy to notice this faulty installation and asked for re-work.

Finally, saving the best for last, I have no steps for legal recourse.

There is no documentation, I don’t have a contract, there is no licensing entity I can report to. I pulled one of the biggest rookie home renovation mistakes in construction. I thought, “He came recommended from a friend and he seems like a nice guy, It will all turn out okay.”

What I failed to remember is that accidents do happen. Whether it’s from lack of experience, miscommunication, or even a simple mistake. If/when that occurs, you as a homeowner need to make sure you can protect yourself.

“What I failed to remember is that accidents do happen.”

Due to the fact that I hired an unlicensed contractor, he doesn’t have insurance or bonds to cover the damage.

Now all I can do is suck it up and pay for the corrections, only three months after the initial work was completed.

The bathroom and roof repair are tough pills to swallow, but I realize it was all my fault. I should have known better. Sometimes it takes a little bit of pain (and in my case, water) to realize there are no shortcuts in life, particularly when it comes to construction.

For the money I was able to save during my project (from using an unlicensed contractor and not engaging a project manager), I will now end up paying nearly triple to have someone come back and fix my mess.

One thing is for sure, I’ll be there every step of the way during the repairs!

GreatBuildz is a free service that connects homeowners in Los Angeles, Orange County, Ventura & San Diego with reliable, thoroughly screened general contractors and provides project support from start to finish. Call now (818.317.3567) to chat with a real person about your next renovation project or visit our website for more information:

What is GreatBuildz? We Make It Easy To Find a Great Contractor

Hi, we're Paul and Jon - Co-Founders of GreatBuildz. We believe everyone deserves to find a great contractor, have a stress-free renovation, and enjoy their beautiful new space. There are so many contractors out there and it's often hard to tell the good from the bad... until it's too late. We started our company to help simplify your contractor search and help you have a stress-free renovation experience. We're always available to help, no matter where you are in the process. Click here to learn more about our story.

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