8 Renovations You’ll Regret Cutting Corners On
Your home is your castle, so treat it right. It can be tempting to cut corners on renovations, but saving a bit of money today will likely be costly tomorrow.
If you're planning an upcoming renovation project, you're not alone. As of 2022, nearly one-quarter -- 23% -- of homeowners expected to start a renovation project in the next 12 months, according to Houzz.
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When done correctly, renovations tend to cost a pretty penny. However, the old adage "you get what you pay for" typically rings true when it comes to cutting corners on home improvement projects.
Of course, there are always exceptions to this rule. For example, some renovation projects are truly DIY-friendly and others don't require the highest quality materials to function well.
Therefore, it's important to know which projects fall into this category and which ones do not. Here's a look at eight renovations you'll regret taking the cheap way out on.
Average cost of flooring installation: $12.50 per square foot
Installing new flooring in your home is a major undertaking, so Artem Kropovinsky, an interior designer and founder of Arsight, an interior design studio based in New York City, said you shouldn't cut corners on it.
"Carelessness can result in expensive errors, such as an uneven subfloor causing buckling or warping of the flooring," he said. "Choosing an unsuitable flooring material may lead to scratches or fading."
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Average cost of a plumber for a typical job: $175-$450
"Plumbing involves intricate systems that demand specific expertise and abilities," Kropovinsky said. "Attempting to do plumbing tasks on your own may cause flooding or fixture damage."
He said even minor plumbing leaks can cause extensive damage over time, so it's always best to leave this type of work to a professional. The last thing you want to is to end up footing an even larger bill, because you tried -- and failed -- to do work that required a licensed plumber on your own.
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Average cost to hire a professional painter: $2-$6 per square foot, including paint and materials
"While it might be appealing to save funds by painting your walls yourself, lacking experience or proper equipment can lead to an unprofessional outcome," Kropovinsky said. "Improper wall preparation could also cause premature peeling or chipping of the paint."
If you do have painting skills, Ellen Sykes, a licensed associate real estate broker with Coldwell Banker Warburg, based in New York City, emphasized the importance of using good quality paint and painting the entire wall or ceiling, instead of just a patch.
"Do not paint everything in flat paint," she said. "Spend the money to put a satin finish on the woodwork and trim - it looks so much better."
Average cost of stock kitchen cabinets: $100-$300 per linear foot
If you find a carpenter who offers to build custom cabinets at an affordable price, Sykes said to make sure you understand exactly how they will be built and finished.
"I have seen kitchen cabinets done by carpenters with fixed shelves and a support strut in completely the wrong place, making them almost unusable," she said. "You need adjustable shelves at the minimum - also, they need to accommodate a big dinner plate."
She said mass-produced cabinets are cheaper, but often come with problems.
"Try not to use particle board, as any encounter with water makes them swell right up," she said.
As for affordable options worth using, she said Ikea has many to choose from.
"I would go with them as long as everything is properly installed," she said.
Average cost of carpeting a home: $784-$2,809
"Get the best possible carpet you can afford and stick with nylon or wool, both of which last well and clean well," Sykes said.
She said there are some indoor/outdoor options on the market that can be a good choice.
"Polyester carpets generally mat and pill, and they easily get worn," she said. "It is tough to clean stains out of them too."
Therefore, she said it's better to invest money into your carpeting, so it will last longer.
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Window Materials and Installation
Average cost of window replacements: $300-$2,100 per window
"You may be able to save some money at first if you go with cheaper window materials and installation, but it will come at the expense of your energy efficiency and durability," said Craig Ricks Jr., president of Acadian Windows and Siding, a residential construction company in Louisiana and Mississippi that specializes in roofing, windows, doors and siding.
He said investing in proper installation, along with solutions Low Emissivity Glass -- i.e., Low-E glass -- and impact windows that protect against storms is worth the upfront cost.
"If you decide to sell your house, you'll also be glad you invested in quality windows that can help increase your home's value," he said.
Siding Materials and Installation
Average cost to re-side a house: $5,573-$17,235
"Low-quality siding materials or improper installation can cause costly issues in the long run, such as water damage, mold growth and pest infestations," Ricks said. "These problems can lead to costly repairs -- if not full replacement -- which quickly outpace any savings you made at first."
In a worst-case scenario, he said damaged siding can even have a negative impact on the structural integrity of your home.
Repairing/Replacing Damaged Roofing
Average cost to repair a roof: $379-$1,758
Average cost of a roof replacement: $5,747-$12,467
When a roof ages or becomes damaged, Ricks said it's not uncommon for homeowners to cut corners trying to save money on repairs.
"Whether it's waiting too long to address the issue or opting for a cheap repair, rather than a replacement, letting roofing problems fester usually makes things worse and more expensive," he said. "You could face water damage, mold growth and even structural damage if there are ongoing problems with your roof."
He said this can ultimately cause you to need a more expensive and comprehensive roof replacement in the future, along with potentially damaging other parts of your home.
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