The top 4 home renovation mistakes and how to avoid them

The top 4 home renovation mistakes and how to avoid them

If you are planning a home renovation or a refurbishment, you definitely will want to know what are the top 4 home renovation mistakes to avoid them while you can.

Planning a home renovation requires energy, being organised, and keeping a budget under control. Even those who have these skills find themselves in the middle of a renovation thinking how could they go so much over budget and how could they have avoided their mistakes. 

I know it’s very difficult to keep up with everything you need to know even just to start with your home renovation. If you are here, it means you are trying to be informed and to keep everything under control. So don’t stress out and keep reading, you are doing great already!

N.1 Home renovation mistake: Assume you can do everything you want to your home.

modern house extension

We are often thrown to these beautiful pictures on Pinterest or by something we have seen in another house in the neighbourhood. The reality is that not everything can be done on your property and not considering it in advance can lead to costly and stressful home renovation mistakes.

To keep it simple: You don’t know what you don’t know. 

How to avoid it

It’s very important to do a scan of your property. I don’t mean anything fancy, I just mean to go over how your house is built, what is the age of the property, where do the existing plumbing, drainage, and electric systems run through, etc.

These are the main parts or systems to consider:

Home structure

Identify what is the main construction of your home. In London, in general, we find old properties are built with bricks externally and internally and almost all walls (if not all) are load-bearing. Newer homes can have blockwork finished with render or brick slips externally and have some non-load-bearing walls built up with timber battens.

Identifying previous extensions to the house is also crucial since they can be built with different construction systems. Their foundations might also be dropping slightly more or less than the existing house and that can create some imbalance. 

After analysing all the part of your home and their structure you will have a very good picture of how complex is your home. The more quirky and irregular your home is, the more complications can have during a renovation. 

Local Policies

You would think that you could do whatever you want with your home since you own it, right? That is unfortunately not always the case. There are local policies and regulations set up by the Council that could prevent you from doing some work to your home, especially if you live in a Conservation area. Simple things like changing a window or demolishing a chimney might need permission from your Council. 

Everything that increases the volume, changes elevations or has an impact on your neighbours could be subject to Planning approval. Contact your council or your Architect to find out what applies to your property.

This will prevent you from having any conflict with your neighbour and any issue selling the house in the future if you wanted to.

Plumbing and Drainage systems

Have a look at where your bathrooms and kitchen are. Could you imagine how they run through the property until they reach the external connection to the main sewer? In older houses, where bathrooms were added years after their construction, pipes are usually installed externally (often to the rear elevation). That is why you would find bathrooms are kitchens located more to the rear of the property.

 In newer homes, you will find bathrooms and kitchens in the middle and on top of each other because the pipes can connect vertically without going to the exterior.

If you are planning to relocate or add a bathroom or a kitchen, consider how far this one will go from its original location. Drainage pipes are the biggest problem because they need to have a slope for the waste to go down. Sanitary hot and cold water is easier to move around the house, but you need to be careful with water pressure as well.

Electric system

When sockets are built over the walls in ugly big boxes and you can see the cabling going around the property is a sign that you will probably arrange for a full re-wire of the house. An old electric system could give you many problems and it won’t work well if you start patching up here and there. You also should consider the type of appliances that you want to include in your renovation as you could be exceeding the power load of your current electric system. 

N.2 Home renovation mistake: Hire the cheapest contractor

It’s very tempting to choose the cheapest contractors or builders since they all have been contacted to do the same thing. However, some contractors often provide a lower quote because they know many things can happen during a renovation. They could make more money when you change your mind in the middle of the renovation or when suddenly there is an unforeseen issue that needs to be resolved. They can also be cutting corners from materials if you haven’t provided them with a specification, just adding up to the list of home renovation mistakes.

How to avoid it

I completely understand to contact with builders to have a look around your house before you start a home renovation. Be respectful with their time and energy. They are coming to your house to discuss about a project that only exist in your mind and you will ask them to give you a rough number. It’s very difficult for them to quote agains siemple ideas and without details. 

To avoid gettins very different quotes, you should detail the scope of your works and send the same information to all the builders. Generally, this is best done when the design is clear and when you can provide drawings and a specification as well. You will then be able to obtain quotes and compare builders like-for-like. 

I have created a Scope of Works template with instructions that you can use for your renovations to send over to builders. You can find it on the following link when you register to our Newsletter. 

N.3 Home renovation mistake: Change your mind in the middle of the renovation

planning application

I know you know about this one, but believe me: You are going to change your mind!

It’s something very common because there are so many things to consider. You are probably making some fast decisions just to get them out of your place, but you might have a different opinion as you go through the process.

How to avoid it

The main answer to how to avoid this home renovation mistake is planning, planning, and more planning! Planning is essential. Ask your Architect or designer for their input and trust in them. If you don’t trust them, why work with them? they will be able to tell you if there is enough space or not to fit something or if some space around the furniture will feel cramped or not. They work daily with dimensions and space. 

Go through every design detail, you are probably not aware of the consequences of every design decision. Make sure you ask about everything you are not sure about it. Dedicating more time to plan and design properly every space saves so much time during a renovation. It also saves money during construction. When you make changes before signing a contract, what is on paper is what counts. You are in control. When you make changes in the middle of the renovation, the builder is in control. It’s hard to replace a team so they can always put a higher price because they know you don’t have other options.

Another thing to consider is to budget between 10% and 20% for extras from the beginning. I can assure you there is always something that you didn’t account for.

N.4 Home renovation mistake: Not budgeting for the impact in your daily life

house refurbishment

We are all aware of the importance of having a budget and keeping it under control. Another top home renovation mistake is not other than to forget about the time and money that it will cost you to go through a renovation. 

Relocating a kitchen or a bathroom would create a very uncomfortable situation at home, especially if you have kids. It can be straightforward work, but just missing a piece could leave you in limbo waiting for days without running water or without a toilet. You will wonder how it is possible to have some dust around and budgeting for deep cleaning of the house is also an important one.

Make sure to budget for accommodation in case you need a couple of days in a hotel or a week back at your parents’ house. You might need to account for extra expenses on your bills since the builders will be using a lot of powerful tools and you will also want to keep them happy bringing them some snacks and drinks from time to time.

How to avoid it

Go through the schedule of works once you have it or think about the whole process and what it will be happening at each stage. Planning in advance is again the solution to this home renovation mistake. If you are also unsure about Planning and Building Control applications, this can easily add up on top of your budget. Consult with your Architect to find out more about what sort of applications, permits, or potential surveys could be expected from a project like yours.


These are the 4 top home renovation mistakes that most homeowners and investors alike make. Knowing how to avoid them is usually in your power. As I’ve mentioned before, planning is the key to a successful home renovation.

Just on a side note, don’t worry too much about making mistakes. It’s also natural to make them and almost impossible to keep everything under control because not everything depends on you. 

Keep calm, and get going. I’m sure your home renovation will be an absolute success!


Don't miss a thing...

Subscribe now to receive news, blog posts and tips directly to your e-mail.

    Leave a Comment

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *