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3 biggest home renovation mistakes and how to avoid them — according to HGTV's Scott McGillivray

Here's what you need to know in order to save money and time before your next home renovation.

Man measures countertop in renovated kitchen
Here's what you need to know before you tackle your next home renovation project. (Getty Images)

If you've flipped through TV any time in the past 20 years or so, there's a good chance that you've come across one of the many home renovation shows that have taken airwaves by storm.

While HGTV's Scott McGillivray is no stranger to televised renovations, the contractor and real estate investor admits that "the truth is, you don't want to end up on the TV show. If you've ended up on the show, it's because maybe you let things go too far."

To help Canadians avoid finding themselves in that situation, McGillivray spoke with Yahoo Canada to break down the biggest do's and don'ts of home renovation. For anyone planning to undertake their own renovation project, keep reading for the biggest renovation mistakes McGillivray sees, and what to do instead.

Home reno mistake no.1: Not having a plan in order

Like with any major life decision, undertaking home renovations should involve a lot of thought and effort before you get started. Surprisingly, McGillivray admits that's not always the case.

"Homeowners and renovators, especially when they're doing this for the first time, they definitely make a few mistakes," he says. "The first thing is that they don't have a fulsome plan for their renovations."

When it comes to important rooms in the house like the kitchen, bathroom, or bedroom, McGillivray recommends being realistic about your timeline and the amount of disruption that you're willing to put up with before you start tearing things apart.

"When it comes to those three rooms, you really have to think, 'What's the best use of our time and money in order to get the job done to the caliber we're looking for?' and then able to get back to your life without disruption."

Scott McGillivray stands in a renovated bathroom
Scott McGillivray recommends services like Bath Fitter as an affordable way to update an old bathroom. Photo courtesy of Scott McGillivray.

Home reno mistake no.2: Not having a budget

According to McGillivray, people often get excited about the thought of a renovation and they don't necessarily make or stick to a budget.

"They change their mind or they...freestyle their renovations, which is probably the most expensive way to do things," he noted.

Instead, McGillivray suggests getting quotes from various contractors, and considering the following options to cut down on costs:

  • Keep layouts and fixtures in place in kitchens and bathrooms. "If you can renovate what's there without changing the layout, you're gonna save a tremendous amount of money," says McGillivray.

  • Consider retrofitting bathrooms to refresh dated spaces. McGillivray is a fan of services like Bath Fitter, which can complete a bathroom redesign in as little as one day.

  • Focus on affordable upgrades. McGillivray recommends updating your paint colours on walls and doors, lighting and landscaping as simple ways to add value to your home without breaking the bank.

Finally, McGillivray recommends that you always build a contingency into your budget, just in case you run into surprise costs.

"I always say have a bit of a contingency for when you're doing the work, so that if there's anything unexpected, you can tackle it."

Cropped image of senior woman learning to book online appointment through laptop from caregiver at table
Cropped image of senior woman learning to book online appointment through laptop from caregiver at table

Home reno mistake no.3: Not doing your research

When it comes to finding and working with a renovation team, McGillivray stressed the importance of doing your research before beginning a project.

"It is your it is your job as the homeowner or as the property owner, to look at what some of the affordable, comparable options are," he says. "If you let the wrong people take control of your renovation, there's really no motivation for them to be done."

If you're unsure of where to get started on finding the best team for the job, McGillivray suggests reaching out to friends or neighbours, or even taking to social media.

"There's a lot of digital tools available now that weren't available 10, 15 years ago, where you can find reviews, you can have people bid on your projects," he says.

Ultimately, different service providers will offer different solutions, so it's up to the homeowner to find what works best for their lifestyle and budget.

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