• Dmitriy Kuleshov

Remodelling 101: 17 Mistakes Every Homeowner Makes When Renovating Their House


Home remodelling is as rewarding and stressful as no other experience.

Seeing your house getting a facelift, glowing in new colours and becoming cozier is the biggest joy.

Although to reach a point of joy – you need to put in a lot of hard work.

From thorough planning of construction work to materials selection, from hiring a professional contractor to the last strokes of paint roller – all this happens during renovation.

Renovating a house with no experience is problematic, especially if you're doing a full house renovation.

With little knowledge, you can underestimate a project's complexity, the number of required building supplies or hire an unprofessional contractor who can ruin an entire project.

To help you avoid home remodelling mistakes, we compiled a list of the 17 most common mistakes that everyone homeowner makes when renovating their house.

Table of contents

 - How much are Canadian households spent on renovation in 2020?
 - #1 Starting renovation too soon
 - #2 Underestimating renovation costs
- #3 Expecting everything goes according to plan
- #4 Hunting for a bargain 
- #5 Buying cheap materials
- #6 Don't pretend to understand the scheme design
- #8 Don't make too many changes during the renovation
- #9 Not setting up a timeline
- #6 Not ordering extra materials
- #10 Not sticking to your original architectural design
- #11 Not replacing windows
- #12  Working on multiple rooms at once
- #13 Measuring incorrectly
- #14 Not doing the prep work 
- #15 Working without the permit
- #16 Neglecting safety 
- #17 Adding too much custom features 
- Conclusion  

How much Canadian households spent on renovation in 2020?


Canadians spent $80B on fixing up existing homes in 2019.

Given that many Canadians live in houses between 20-60 years old, the experts, therefore, had projected 2020 to be even more lucrative for the renovation industry.

The actual nationwide spend on home repairs was down 23% compared to last year's figures.

COVID-19 has forced an entire residential construction sector to plummet.

Uncertainty, multiple lockdowns and massive layoffs – all had caused households to rethink their renovation projects for this year.

A forecast from the Altus group predicts a return to an $80B mark in 2021. Other reports also suggest favourable conditions for making home improvements in 2021.


With 48% currently considering renovating all or part of their homes, 77% of homeowners reported having cash on hand to carry out their renovations.

  • 57% of homeowners completed one to two minor repairs in 2019, with 36% completing between three and ten repairs – 23% of homeowners spent $2,000 – $5,000, 24% spent $5,000 – $20,000. Only 5% spent more than $20,000.

  • 57% of homeowners completed one or two major projects — 26% spent between $5,000 and $20,000, and 8% spent more than $20,000 in 2019

The most popular Google searches for home renovation projects are countertops, bathrooms and backyard, followed by kitchen, basement and wall paint.

monthly-google-searches-for renovation-projects-in-canada

Albertans' search queries showed the most interest in basement renovation.


Renovation quote of the day 😃

Living through a home renovation is like living in the wild… you do whatever it takes to survive - (unknown author)

#1 Starting renovation too soon


Planing an overhaul of your house or room should be well planned.

Remember, the project takes weeks or even months before completion.

Suppose you start too soon, skipping a planning stage, you may end up running into stress, overspending, unnecessary changes during renovation or insufficient funding.

Validate your home renovation against a qualifying checklist to ensure your vision is clear and affects your daily life as little as possible.

This is critical, especially in today's COVID reality.

Forty-seven percent of Canadian employees expect to work from home moving into 2021. Thus, a quiet room to stay productive is needed by many homeowners.

With so much construction noise entering your room, your level of stress will immensely increase.

So, thorough planning will benefit your wellbeing soon after you begin renovation.

#2 Underestimating renovation costs


Costs associated with renovation are hard to predict, given that you calculate all expenses by yourself.

Materials always get more expensive. You buy extra building supplies if they get damaged, or you run out of them.

Your contractor may damage a piece of interior or exterior while wrecking a part of a wall or installing shingles on the roof.

So you need to repair the damage.

Just remember, there's always an if factor when carrying out the renovation.

You need to add 20% over budget to secure yourself against unexpected problems.

#3 Expecting everything goes according to plan


Overspending is one of the causes that can put you off the plan.

Prepare yourself for the worst-case scenario so that stress and other miseries can't take you by surprise.

Some people like to validate a project against qualifying criteria to ensure they cover all risks to run the project according to the plan.

Books like The home remodelling management book: How to plan, organize, and maintain control of your home remodelling project by Kathryn E. Schmidt or Home Renovation Planner by NY Home planner Studip provide useful tips and easy to follow templates that will set you up on the right track.

#4 Hunting for a bargain


We all love a bargain – a uniquely satisfying feeling of getting a product we desire for a very, very low price.

Psychologists found an explanation for this phenomenon.

In a study published by The Association of Consumer Research, Robert M. Schindler argues that bargains evoke an emotional response from the brain, increasing our craving for the desired product.

Simply put – we're after the thrill of capturing a good deal: similar to any competitive activity, like betting or gambling.

When you secure a bargain, you feel aroused, and your brain makes you feel like you've just won the title of the ultimate bargain hunter.

"People like the fact they can hunt and find a bargain that maybe somebody else hasn't found," says professor Karem Fernandez from the University of Auckland Business School Associate

When you're sieving through quotes from contractors, never leave out the most expensive ones. Similarly, never go after the cheapest ones.

We suggest you create a comparison table, in which you place the top 5 companies from the least expensive to the most costly. Think of this as a rating slider.

Next, outline all criteria that make up your ideal contractor for that particular project.

Once you've done it, simply tick the box for a company that wins other competitors.

Voilà – you chose your ideal contractor.

#5 Buying cheap materials

We talked about bargain hunting above. Cheap doesn't always mean good quality.

When shopping for building materials, ensure they're not compromising safety or having any physical defects that prevent exploitation.

If you need to save on building materials, make sure you:

  1. Look for free or cheap items on Craiglist, Reddit, Kijiji or Facebook marketplace

  2. Find online auctions that sell reusable building materials

  3. Visit building reuse centres, Habitat's ReStore or Good4U Store

  4. Garage sales are the best bargain hunting grounds

#6 Pretending to understand the scheme design


If you never study architecture, neither ever worked in construction, there's a likelihood that you can't read blueprints.

It's fine.

Read the beginner's guide to reading construction plans from Construct-Ed, which teaches you the basics of what plans are, what type of information they contain, and how to decipher 2D architectural drawings.

#7 Making too many changes during the renovation

Changes make our lives vibrant and exhilarating.

Sadly, in construction, lots of changes in the project during renovation usually mean chaos.

It will upend your initial plan and make your life one big headache.

By moving a light switch even a few feet off the original place, may end up costing you roughly $1,500.

That's why good planning before the project helps you avoid such mistakes.

#8 Not sticking to your original architectural design

Rather than a fatal mistake, it has a dual effect on your original remodelling plan.

Additions may not affect the final result, but they may devaluate your house if you decide to sell it later.

The main point here is to always seek your contractor's advice or understand how an amended architectural design will affect your project.

#9 Not replacing windows


Eventually, every renovation should lead to overall home improvements.

Going after better energy efficiency means that you need to consider all elements that affect the overall rating.

Many homeowners often overlook windows as one of the leading factors that affect your energy efficiency rating.

Did you know that modern windows with double or triple Low-E glazing can save you up to 45% on your energy bills?

The Government of Canada website states that around 18 to 35% of heat can be lost through bad windows.

There are 18 popular window styles, and Tilt & Turn windows are among the best window systems on the market. We talked about their advantages in our previous blog post.

#10 Not setting up a timeline

In an essay by Benjamin Franklin published in "Avice to a Young Tradesman," he said:

Time is Money.

In your timeline, you need to state the deadlines by which you want the contractor to purchase building supplies, items and project completion dates.

When you work against the deadlines, you know exactly what and when to buy the items or hire a contractor.

#11 Not ordering extra materials

While running risk assessment, always consider the need for extra materials.

Order between 10 and 20% more materials to secure yourself against scenarios when you can't finish or continue renovation because, for instance, your local hardware shop ran out of flooring.

Extra materials never hurt, especially when you can resell or donate any unused building supplies at your local donation facility.

In Calgary, we recommend donating to ReStore, which is owned by Habitat for Humanity.

All proceeds go directly to support Habitat's mission to help families buy their first home.

It's a win-win.

#12 Working on multiple rooms at once


Multitasking is a productivity killer.

Researchers call nicknamed multitasking as "task-switching" activity.

In renovation, this translates into working on multiple rooms at once – and achieving nothing but increasing your stress levels while running out of time and money.

Research indicates that up to 40% of productivity can be lost due to task-switching.

When you delegate focus from one task to another, you begin missing out on little things like inappropriately installed light switches or damaged building materials.

#13 Measuring incorrectly

If you're renovating the house yourself, then correct measurements are must-haves. An old saying, "measure once, cut twice," can save you time and money.

Being off a few inches can cause dramatic consequences for your entire project.

#14 Not doing the prep work

We see this a lot when installing custom windows at homes.

Homeowners don't fully cover their valuable items with protective sheets.

We're cutting out a window, and a stray piece of sharp wood or metal part bounces off an electric saw and scratches or damages the item.

It's a very dramatic example, but the point is to ensure you're well prepared before the work begins.

Lots of debris and dust always ensues in any renovation project.

#15 Working without the permit


The most important thing to keep in mind when you plan renovation is to understand your local building code requirements.

By not complying with the building code rules may lead to hefty fines.

Whether you're installing a custom window or removing a wall, confirm with the local authorities you can actually do it in your house.

Calgary municipality created a handy website to find out more information about building permits and other requirements.

#16 Neglecting safety

Safety first.

According to Canada's government website, 18% of all injuries registered nationwide happened during a home renovation, gardening, and other unpaid work at home.

The most common injuries are strains, sprains and broken or fractured bones.


Here are some safety tips to help you prepare for renovation:

  • Never commit to a project above your skill-set. If you're dreading heights, please don't stand on a high up ladder to fix the roof. Call in a professional to proceed on a project.

  • Use the appropriate safety gear like safety glasses, hearing protection, gloves and safety boots.

  • Keep the construction area off th