June 14, 2021

Top 7 Things Most Homeowners Don’t Expect When Renovating

Renovating your home is a many-layered and intricate process. There are a thousand moving parts, multiple parties involved, and various expectations to be met. As you embark on the great and wonderful adventure that is renovating your home, you will need to be well prepared. Even if you’ve renovated in the past, each project is different and comes with its fair share of unique twists and turns. 

Today, we will be discussing the top 7 things most homeowners don’t expect when renovating. Pour a glass of your favorite beverage, grab your notepad, and let’s talk details.

1. Renovations take time

Before you can start your project, you need to set realistic expectations for how long it is going to take. Renovations won’t happen overnight, plain and simple. Even single-room projects take several months to complete. If you’re planning to renovate an entire home, you can expect it to take at least a year.

When you work with us, we will be very transparent about your project’s timeline. We take pride in our success rate of 95% of projects finished on time and within budget — and a big part of that success comes from accurately estimating timelines and budgets from the beginning.

After meeting with you and discussing your project, we will also suggest optimal start dates for your project. External construction typically can’t begin during the rainy season, but otherwise, you’ll have some options. 


2. A budget can make or break a project

Speaking of budgets, this is another area where most homeowners are surprised… because whatever you think your budget might be, it is most likely to be more. The simple truth is that most people don’t realize how much things like materials cost, permits, labor… yes, the labor of people who must also be able to afford to live in the Bay Area. (I recently wrote this article on Why It’s So Expensive to Live in the Bay Area — it’s a good read if you haven’t seen it yet.)

Working with a design-build firm will help you map out the scope of your project and create a realistic budget for it. This includes accurate estimates and building in a contingency plan for any unforeseen surprises (see #5). 

A smart, realistic budget can be the difference between keeping your project moving… or having it stalled out on the side of the road. Literally! Again, this is where working with a professional is well worth the investment in your success.

3. Being decisive saves you time and money

I’m not joking. The ability to make decisions will save you time and money. There is a vast amount of detail involved in any given project. Whether you’re renovating one room or an entire home, there are endless decisions that need to be made. Indecision can slow down the process substantially.

This is another reason to work with an experienced firm. It may take you hours to research the possible answers to a single renovation question on your own. It takes our team seconds — seconds — to not only propose solutions but to tell you which of those solutions is the best for your unique scenario. This not only saves you time, but it can also save you a significant amount of money on making the wrong choices.

When we work together, we spend a lot of time upfront with you, getting to know your goals, your desired lifestyle, and your design sensibilities. We do this to build trust and understanding. This helps us focus only on the design selections and solutions that are right for you. 


4. Permits are a necessary nuisance

Nobody wants to think about permits. You just want to build or renovate your home, your way, and have that be the end of it…. but that’s not possible. Every construction or renovation project must legally obtain a number of permits before the start date. There are no exceptions.

As if paperwork isn’t enough to dampen your spirits, these permits can take anywhere from several weeks to months to acquire, and it’s difficult to know how quickly the offices will process your request. (Another reason why renovation timelines are longer than most people think!) Permits can also get quite expensive, sometimes thousands of dollars for large-scope projects. Yes, we help you budget for this too, so there aren’t any surprises, but it’s still good to know in advance what you’re getting yourself into.

If this bureaucratic process sounds overwhelming, rest assured that it’s part of our day-to-day work. We will file everything on your project’s behalf and communicate with the necessary parties until approval has been granted and work can begin.

5. You will need to plan for concealed conditions

This is something the renovation TV shows get right (for once), even if they do dramatize it a bit. Concealed conditions. We never know what we will find when we start ripping out drywall, removing that heinous 90s bathtub, or opening up the ceiling, but there’s almost always something — dry rot, mold, structural issues, plumbing fiascos, you name it. 

Although we can’t predict these concealed conditions before we start, we can budget for them. That’s where the contingency budget I mentioned comes into play. I usually suggest dedicating 10% of your budget to solving those unforeseen issues. 

The good news? You don’t have to stress about any of it. Our team knows how to handle anything your home can throw at us. We will solve your problems as quickly and professionally as possible. 


6. Delays are a normal part of the process

Delays are not only likely to happen, they are a normal part of any renovation. For example, at the moment, we’re experiencing a substantial disruption in the industry, thanks to COVID and the Suez Canal blockage. The interrupted supply chain has resulted in shortages in appliances and materials (such as wood and foam), a high demand for our trade, and low supply of labor and manufacturing. There’s nothing else to be done but to manage it professionally and keep the lines of communication open with our clients.

However, even in normal times delays are normal. Inclement weather can delay construction start dates. Inclement weather or supply chain interruptions in other parts of the country or world can delay shipping, such as tile, flooring, furnishings, etc. Concealed conditions may require immediate attention and delay other areas of work. 

You get the idea, and it’s all normal. Ask any professional in our industry, and they’ll tell you the same. (Believe me, it’s in our favor to complete your project as efficiently as possible, too.) Fortunately, we know that delays are a reality, and we always build potential setbacks into our overall timeline — and 95% of our projects stay on time and within budget, remember? *Wink*

7. You may or may not be able to stay on the premises

Last but not least, most homeowners get so excited about their renovation that they forget to consider where they will be staying during the undertaking. Construction is loud, really loud, messy, and there will be dust flying and people everywhere. (Can you imagine being on Zoom with a jackhammer pounding away in the background?)

If your project is fairly large and includes most of the areas in your home, then we typically suggest securing a rental property or staying with family. This is something we can discuss, but whatever you decide, it’s important to determine this at the very beginning. Your lodgings will often add to your renovation expenses, and you wouldn’t believe how many people forget to plan for it!


What’s Next?

Renovating your home can be an equally exciting and daunting endeavor, which is why you need to get your design team involved at the very early stages. Hiring professionals will save you time, money, and stress in the long run. 

Together, we will ensure you maximize your investment and focus on the features that will improve your quality of life and your home’s value. It’s a tall order but one at which we truly excel.

If you’re ready to hand the reins to a trustworthy team who can create your dream home, why not book a no-strings-attached Discovery Call with us? Let’s chat and see if we’re right for each other.


Douglah Designs Luxury Design And Remodeling


Douglah Designs, a premier home remodeling studio, manages every design and construction facet of your project. Our 3,000-square-foot showroom, Luxe Home, sits in the heart of Lafayette. We offer luxury home essentials, including cabinets, plumbing fixtures, tiles, lighting, and more. Homeowners, designers, architects, and contractors in the East Bay trust us for stylish, high-quality brands and professional in-store support.

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