There’s nothing quite like a fresh new home. But as anyone who has undertaken a renovation will tell you, the path to your dream home is rarely smooth and even the most well-planned renovations involve some renovation regret.
From budget blunders to decor dilemmas and the crazy things that seemed like a good idea at the time, we’ve gathered a bunch of hindsight moments from real renovators (including us!) to help you avoid the pitfalls. So whether you’re planning a single room makeover, a medium-sized reno or a completely new build, do yourself a favour and scour the list before you press play on your plans.
Let other people’s renovation regrets help you sidestep the snags, tears and tantrums, and put you one step closer to your perfect home.
Hate dust? Skip the open shelving
Sure, when styled beautifully and kept immaculate, open shelves look amazing – in fact, they’re a hallmark of Modern Country Homes. But, one renovator in an advice thread said that she “absolutely regretted it coz of the dust it gathers.”
Use drawers instead of cupboards under benches
Kitchen benches are quite deep, usually starting at 600mm in Australia, which means reaching for items on shelves underneath them can be tricky. Drawers on the other hand make it much easier to access items at the back.
Consider wall-hung vanities
One person suggested that wall-hung sinks are better than other styles because they’re easier to clean and “there is no silicone that can become mouldy.”
Avoid tight nooks and crannies
Before telling builders to go ahead with something, think about how you’ll clean it. As another renovator points out, “This includes avoiding building nooks and crannies that are too narrow to fit your forearm in.”
Include storage in your bathroom mirrors
The same person commented that face-height storage is important, giving you “extra space to put your toiletries”.
Consider sink depth carefully
Another renovator makes a great point about choosing a sink with the right depth for your height. From farmhouse sinks to overmount styles, sinks vary a lot when it comes to depth, so definitely check before you buy!
… and sink SIZE!
Multiple people mention the importance of going BIG when it comes to kitchen sinks, with one person advising renovators to “get wide, deep, single basin under-mounted sinks” and to not bother with double basins because they are hard to wash big pots in.
Are you tidy enough to pull off an open wardrobe?
We had to giggle at this one as we can definitely relate: an open wardrobe only looks great when it’s immaculate! One person wrote, “If you really want it, you’ll want to think about your lifestyle, do you care about dust? Do you have the discipline to make sure your clothes look nice …?” Definitely food for thought!
Don’t be tempted by the cheapest contractors
As one victim of a ‘bathroom gone wrong’ explains, “Get a reputable contractor for bathroom renovations.” They go on to say that the neighbours above them took the cheap route with a certain contractor who failed to waterproof the room. The result? Leaks and a whole lot of damage.
Don’t think repainting is easy
Don’t choose your paint colour thinking it’s easy to change later if you don’t like it. One wise person in the thread points out that the “pain of repainting is real.”
Remember that digital locks are a blessing
When it comes to quality of life, digital locks get the big thumbs up from a lot of renovators, with one person explaining that it’s super useful “being able to leave the house without keys and unlocking doors without being at home.”
Put power points in the right places
It’s easy to overlook this by focusing on bigger elements of a reno, but the positioning of power points is critical. To do this properly, you actually need to have an idea of the furniture, decor or appliances that will fill each space.
Choose your appliances BEFORE the kitchen starts
One of the biggest causes of renovation regret is when you find yourself faced with a beautifully finished kitchen with no room for the oven and fridge you’ve had your eye on. An absolute must is to choose your appliances first so that your builder can work with the exact dimensions.
Be careful with porous surfaces
Natural stone may look as dreamy as can be, but from personal experience, we can attest to it being VERY difficult when it comes to stains. Non-porous engineered stone, like Caesarstone, is a safer option and very low maintenance.
Renovation budgets blow out easily quickly if you don’t have a clear plan. It’s a lot of work, but definitely worth mapping out each part of your reno and budgeting for everything. Allow a realistic buffer for unexpected surprises (which always happen!)
If you’re new to reno lingo, this just means spending more on your home than you’d make back if you sold. A common pitfall of overcapitalisation is with swimming pools. Many family-sized concrete pools cost upwards of $100,000 – but they rarely add that much to the sale price.
Don’t get too caught up in trends
Trends come and go, but timeless is forever. When it comes to trendy decor or designs, keep it minimal so that you have fewer changes to deal with later. (If you’re renovating to sell, prospective buyers will consider this too.)
Removing old tiles? Cover everything!
If you’re planning to remove your tired old tiles to make way for gorgeous new hybrid floorboards, brace for some serious mess. If the tiles are quite old and solidly glued to the subfloor, a jackhammer is probably going to be involved and the dust factor will be big. Take our advice and seal off rooms, cover any carpet and keep allergy sufferers out of the space.
Don’t expect your reno to be quick
Renovations rarely run to schedule, there’s always something unforeseen that crops up. And then there’s the snowball effect, where you find yourself thinking, “If I’m doing this, I may as well do that as well.” Whether you’re planning to sell or perhaps preparing the home for your expanding family, anticipate your reno taking longer than planned to avoid the stress of delays.
Just because you watched a video doesn’t mean you should do it
A final renovation regret we have to share is thinking YouTube will help you DIY most of the jobs. Sure, some tasks are great for getting your DIY on (like painting and decorating), but for anything tricky, save yourself the trouble and use reputable professionals. Trust us, some mistakes can be very costly.
Head over to our Renos & Builds page and soak up some inspiration for your upcoming renovation!