Carol Staab
Associate Broker
Douglas Elliman
111 Fifth Avenue
New York , NY 10003

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5 Home Renovation Mistakes to Avoid

5 home renovation mistakes to avoid, to save you money

1. Picking The Wrong Team
Do not just go with a friend’s recommendation. Your aesthetic, needs and style may be completely different. That is why you want to interview several different contractors before you decide. If your super is recommending a contractor just be on alert to possible kickbacks. Do not assume that that the least expensive quote is the worst and the most expensive quote is the best. Just because someone has clients who pay the most, does not mean they are the best. Take the time to get to know them. If it is a gut renovation, you are going to be spending perhaps a year with them. You want to like and respect them.

2. Not Being Practical
You need to understand how you really want to live and work towards creating that. For example if you work from home, do you want a separate place to work that is closed off? Are the outlets placed in places that make sense? Just because open floor plans are all the rage does not mean they are right for you. If you have kids and are not the neatest person, it may be better to be able to hide the dirty dishes and your kids’ toys.
3. Not Coming Up With A Full Game Plan Before Renovation Starts
You need to know what kind of layout you want and have all the micro details ironed out such as where the outlets will be, lighting etc. before construction begins. Having everything planned will save you time and money big-time.

4. Not Understanding The Time And Aggravation That Go Into NYC
There are so many things to think about when renovating a co-op or condominium that are unique to Manhattan! For example: there are restrictions on “wet over dry” renovations meaning you can’t put a bathroom, kitchen or laundry over someone else’s bedroom for fear of leaks. This will stop your renovation from going forward. Even if you get permission from the board, there are many challenges that arise during a renovation. Examples: How to mitigate noise ( and avoid neighbor complaints) , elevator restrictions ( a lot of buildings don’t have elevators big enough for some items and restrict the days and times of service that you can use the elevators and plumbing limitations ( many buildings don’t allow shutoffs on Mondays and Fridays).
Your contractor should know about these things ahead of time. Before they even meet with you, they should be aware of your building’s rules. There are many things to consider!

You do not want to be quoted a $10,000 demolition fee and then find out later that the contractors did not realize they had to go up and down stairs and tack on another $2,000.That said your contractor should do his due diligence ahead of time and know how your building works.

5. Over- Improvement or Under-Improvement
Do a small renovation or one that is full out! I do not recommend doing anything in between. Do not go three quarters of the way and find out that you did not achieve your “dream “renovation. I had a client who did a great renovation on his condominium that included new HVACS, raising the ceilings, an awesome master bath and kitchen. However, he left the 25 year old guests baths “as is”. Big mistake! Buyers were disappointed that the guest baths were not renovated and either discounted the price in their head or passed the apartment by because they did not want to do any work.

If you are very concerned about recouping your renovation costs then make sure that what you are doing are up to the standards of the market. If you have a luxury, property do not put in generic mid-range GE appliances and install cheaper finishes. The market expects high-end appliances like Viking, Wolfe and Miele and luxury finishes. I had this happen when I was selling a $15 million penthouse. The renovation was a mismatch for this luxurious Fifth Avenue listing that could have sold for perhaps an additional $3M – $4M higher if it had received a high-end renovation.