pre-renovation tips

Renovations by Berkeley Properties OnlineAccording to renovation consultant Bruce Irving, homeowners become trapped by getting tabled up in five common mistakes when working on renovation projects.

“First, many homeowners don’t live in their house long enough to understand the right way to change it,” says Irving, the former executive producer for the popular PBS television show, This Old House. “A homeowner needs to understand the way daylight moves through the house, which areas don’t work for them and which are merely unfamiliar. Altering the home before knowing these types of things can often yield disappointing results.”

“Second, they don’t hire an architect. The solid expertise a professional designer provides is critical to a successful home renovation of any size. Third, and this is a big one, most homeowners underestimate by at least 25 percent how much time and money a project will consume. That adds a huge stress level to a project and oftentimes a sense of failure.

“The fourth mistake is that homeowners don’t ask enough questions — of themselves, the architect and their contractors. That’s a big mistake because they get swept up in the renovation process and sometimes end up unhappy with products used or the final results. Homeowners need to remember it’s their money. They should know how and why it’s being spent.

“The final, and perhaps worst mistake, is that many homeowners wait until the construction process has begun and then they begin changing their minds. They want a different design, a different product or to add something altogether new to the renovation. Changes are costly. The right time to explore and make changes is in the planning stages. After that, it’s more than the architect’s time involved – it’s the entire job site and project.”

From his 17 years of experience supervising large-scale renovation projects for This Old House, Irving has gained strong experiences and insights into the renovation industry. He offers the following tips to homeowners to make their home renovation projects go more smoothly:

Tip #1 – Listen to professionals, but judge their comments carefully or ask for second opinions. For example, hiring a renovation consultant means bringing in a person who has solid experience and can give you an independent, unbiased perspective on the process, protect you from bad ideas and shoddy workmanship. It also gives you an advocate whose only concern is matching up your goals with the final results.

Tip #2 – Invest in synthetic materials. There are substantial savings in long-term maintenance and job site installation costs when selecting modern-day products over older wood or plaster products. Companies like Fypon make lightweight, durable products such as ceiling medallions, mouldings, brackets, entryway trim and even balustrade systems. These synthetic products have the same look as older wood or plaster products, but they won’t rot, decay, attract insects or warp. That’s a huge advantage for any homeowner.

Tip #3 – Choose your teammates wisely. Whether a designer, architect or general contractor, ask to contact their last three clients. Not just any clients, but their last three. These people will have experienced the person at his or her current level of achievement and staffing. This means you’ll gain a more accurate view of what the professional can bring to your project. Once you find professionals you like, be willing to wait for them to become available to work on your project.

Based in Boston, Irving offers more insights on pre-renovation tips and ideas at his web site,