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Under Construction: 5 Renovation Mistakes

Home renovation shows are addictively fun. And it’s no wonder when they treat viewers to a gratifying before-and-after in an hour or less. A few episodes in, you may be tempted to jump into a home renovation project of your own…armed with plenty of desire but little expertise. Because nobody knows better what a home renovation entails than the professionals, we recruited local contractors to steer you clear of common mistakes they see. Their pearls of hard-earned wisdom are worth saving for when you’re renovating your own home.

Talking about money is taboo for some, but it can’t be when renovating a home. The conversation must begin with setting a budget. “Have a budget in mind of what you expect to invest in the project,” says Tim Perryman, founder and CEO of Perryman Painting & Remodeling ( Home renovation costs have a way of ballooning without proper forethought and control. Many renovations are stalled due to funds running dry, and many homeowners are forced to reluctantly seek additional financing to complete their project—all because the budget wasn’t established, monitored, or discussed with all parties involved.

Setting a budget is only step one of the financial conversation; the next is discussing it promptly with contractors and subcontractors. Avoiding the budget conversation with potential partners will cost you time, according to Perryman. “Most people don’t like discussing [budget] because they think they’ll overpay for the project,” he says. But Perryman encourages all homeowners to have an “open, honest discussion about budget with prospective contractors.” Doing so eliminates candidates that either charge more than your budget accommodates or only accept projects of a larger scale than you have decided on. No homeowner wants to get their hopes and excitement up only to be dashed, not to mention the time lost entertaining a possibility that wasn’t fated. So, be bold and proactive in discussing your budget.

Photo courtesy of Eberle Remodeling


A crucial step when remodeling is getting quotes for the various services your project requires; the more, the merrier. It’s wise to get a baseline for how much a service will cost you, which inquiring with multiple subcontractors will reveal. But you can be surprised by the wide range of quotes you receive (not uncommon in construction), and often, that’s because the scope of work differs for each quote. Perryman strongly suggests asking each subcontractor and contractor to include a “scope of work” with their quote, which tells you what you’re getting for the price quoted. “A well-written scope of work includes the room(s) or area(s) the work will be performed, the surfaces that will be renovated, what specialty will be done to each surface, what materials will be used, and the project start and completion dates.”

“There are many pitfalls along the residential remodel path,” says Kent Eberle, president of Eberle Remodeling ( The primary one, he warns, is choosing the wrong help, or as he calls them—guides. Hiring the wrong contractor or subcontractors happens because homeowners don’t adequately vet candidates. “There are no shortcuts in doing your homework—even if you have a referral from someone you know. Keep in mind that all referrals are subjective and should be taken with a grain of salt,” says Eberle. He recommends checking every candidate’s license using the “License Check” on the California State License Board’s website ( Next, obtain proof of Worker’s Compensation and General Liability Insurance by requesting insurance certificates from their provider. “Valid certifications only come from the insurance providers,” warns Eberle.

If you’re at a loss for where to begin your search for a trustworthy contractor, Eberle recommends the National Association of the Remodeling Industry’s database of members, found on their website (, where you’ll find local contractors and vendors who uphold the association’s Code of Ethics.

Photo courtesy of Eberle Remodeling


Ryan Gregerson, owner of RSG Construction (, wants homeowners to know that “construction is a system of processes; that is why you hire a general contractor who knows the systems.” Many homeowners have fallen for the temptation to cut costs by forgoing a general contractor and taking on the responsibilities of one themselves. Doing so means the homeowner is responsible for managing the project.

“Remember, the [home remodeling] process is details, details, details,” says Eberle. Just a few of those details a general contractor manages include hiring the necessary subcontractors, sourcing materials, coordinating timelines, and timing deliveries. The long list of responsibilities can quickly become overwhelming for a homeowner and risk increased delays and expenses. General contractors have proven processes to complete your project as quickly and efficiently as possible. They also have a pool of trusted subcontractors to pull in for a project. 

by Nelly Kislyanka
Photo © pbombaert - Photos courtesy of Eberle Remodeling.