Home Remodeling: Expectation vs. Reality

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You’re looking to do some home remodeling. Naturally, you have some expectations based on your ideas and some of the planning you’ve done… but how well will they hold up against reality?

It’s hard not to have a few high expectations, especially at the beginning. But it’s best to recognize right from the get-go that there will be some surprises along the way – and not all of them will be pleasant. In fact, you can count on there being setbacks!

Let’s dig into some of the common expectations we encounter when discussing home remodeling projects with our clients… and how reality compares.

1. Online Tutorials + A Positive Attitude = The Perfect DIY?

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More often than not, we find homeowners wanting to do as much DIY as possible to save money. And there’s nothing wrong with that… so long as you know what you’re doing.

Sure, there are online tutorials to help you learn how to do just about anything you can imagine these days. And having a positive attitude (plus being willing to put in the hard work) helps too!

But the reality is, while some tasks are well-suited to tackling as a DIY project, a home renovation is not one of them.

And when it comes to things like electrical work, trying to go the DIY route will end up costing you in the long run.

Not only because your insurance company will want a licensed electrician to have done the work, but also because the professional is less likely to make small mistakes that only become apparent a few months down the line!

2. Your To-Do List Isn’t as Manageable as You Think (and It’s Probably Because Your Timeline is Unrealistic Too)

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These two expectations tend to go hand-in-hand, as one affects the other: to-do lists and the timeline.

The best advice we can give you, based on our years of experience, is to set realistic goals. This is easier said than done, of course. But a few obvious examples include not expecting your contractor to create an ultra-modern kitchen for you if you don’t have the budget for it.

Just as importantly, help keep your to-do list as manageable as possible by not allowing yourself to get distracted by side projects.

This is equally important for DIY projects and home renovations where you’ve hired professional contractors! The more tasks you add to the to-do list, the longer the project will take to complete.

Likewise, don’t expect everything to happen as quickly as you might like. The bigger the project, the more risk there is of unexpected circumstances that will set you back a few days.

This is considered par for the course.

The best way to set realistic expectations when it comes to time management is to sit down with your contractor beforehand. Discuss everything you’re hoping to have done. If possible, put it all in order of priority, starting with the most important renovation projects!

This way, your contractor can put together a realistic schedule and help you manage your expectations of how long your home remodeling will take.

3. Your Budget (Probably) Isn’t as Generous as You Expect

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It’s very easy to get caught in the trap of thinking you’ve saved up enough for your home renovation project and have plenty to spare. But the reality is, most people seriously underestimate how much a home renovation – or even just a bathroom remodel – can cost.

This partially ties in with the previous point. The more your to-do list gets out of hand, the more the cost is going to rise. Ditto with the length of time it’ll take to complete your home remodeling.

And that’s not even touching on what happens if something unexpected does come up!

A few handy tips to help make sure you don’t blow your budget out of the water include:

  • Hire an affordable contractor (but make sure they have a proven track record)
  • Time your home renovation properly – the middle of summer or right before the winter holidays are the most expensive months
  • Time your appliances and fixture purchases properly – January and September tend to offer the best prices
  • Speak with your contractor about the most affordable, yet serviceable materials available – you can often save some money without compromising on quality
  • Calculate how much you think you’re going to need based on your quotes and how much any new appliances (etc.) will cost, then add 10% to your total

Bear in mind, even if you follow all of this advice to the tee, you might still end up going over-budget in the long run.

Unexpected circumstances that are completely out of your control – like materials becoming more expensive due to a shortage – can throw even the best of budgets out of order.

4. You’ll Be Able to Resist Temptation

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Once again tying into the previous 2 points, a common expectation we’ve seen many a client fail with is thinking you’ll be able to resist temptation when it comes to unnecessary expenses.

For example, this could be hoping to put in a radiant heat floor or wanting to have the whole house’s electric wiring redone to include more lighting.

While these sound like great ideas on paper, they very quickly become expensive to implement. And that’s not even touching on how much higher they’ll make your power bill at the end of the month!

Falling into temptation here won’t just blow your budget out of the water; it’ll also add to your to-do list and make your home renovation take that much longer.

It’s difficult to resist these temptations, though.

And honestly, the only practical advice we can give you is to ask someone impartial to help keep your spending in check.

It could be a friend or relative, or even your accountant – just so long as it’s someone who you’ll listen to when they say “you don’t need that and you can’t afford it anyway!”

Having that accountability will help you keep (and stick to) a realistic plan.

5. You and Your Partner Will Always Agree About Everything

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This one trips up a lot of couples: thinking from paint colors to lighting fixtures to a new layout, you’ll agree on everything.

The reality is, with a home remodeling project, as with life, you’re going to need to make compromises. And doing so isn’t always going to be easy.

We can’t really give any practical advice on this point, as every couple deals with these things in their own way. But based on our experience, sitting down and agreeing on these details as part of your planning phase is the best way to go.

This way, if one partner isn’t available when something changes and you need to make a decision fast, you have a good idea of what the other person actually wants and would be happy with as a second choice.

The important thing is to remember that you both need to be happy with the final result – after all, you’re both going to be living there!


No matter what your expectations, when it comes to home remodeling, the only guarantee is that reality will always throw you a curveball!

This is why it’s so important you get the planning phase right and choose the best contractor to help you bring your dreams into reality.

At H&H Construction and Renovation, this is our specialty. No project is too big or too small for our team of dedicated experts. We’ve seen it all and we’ve done it all! If you can name it, we can do it – with honesty, loyalty, and expertise.

H&H Construction Team

Contact us today and get started!