architecture, shortcuts, not to take, contractors, mistakes

Six Reasons Not to Take Shortcuts on Your Renovation

It’s true that “cheap” does not always mean “bad,” and “expensive” does not always mean “good,” but that doesn’t mean you should always take shortcuts on your renovation, either.

One or two valid “shortcuts” might not be a bad idea, depending on your home renovation situation but continually looking for cheaper ways to accomplish a goal for your home renovation can ultimately do more harm to the project than good. Here’s why:

Reason #1: Contractors Who Cut Permit Corners Can Expose You to Expensive Mistakes

A man named Alvin Naterpaul, according to, once paid $7,000 for hurricane impact windows. After a storm, a leak not only caused damage so extensive that he had mushrooms growing in his house, he then learned that the contractor hadn’t even obtained the proper permits when installing the windows in the first place.

In addition to having to remove mushrooms from his home where they don’t belong, he also had to replace the wall—a cost that could have been avoided if the renovation had been done properly the first time.

A contractor who cuts corners might be able to provide you with an enticing quote but everything else about the renovation could be off. Poor materials, lack of proper permitting, and a host of other problems can just make more headaches down the line.

It’s not worth it. It’s far better to hire experienced, professional contractors with a good reputation and pay a sensible budget for renovations that last.

Reason #2: Shortcuts Can Drastically Change the End-Result

Like most home renovators, you probably start your project with a goal in mind. Maybe you want a farm-style kitchen renovation with open shelving for example, and that’s great—that’s exactly how you should start a project: with a clear end-result in mind.

But each little shortcut along the way can take its own little bite out of your vision. Maybe you found a deal on some closed shelving instead. Maybe that farm-style kitchen island you wanted is out of your price range.

Suddenly, your “farm-style kitchen renovation” is merely a kitchen renovation.

If things are shaping up in a way you like, that’s fine but if you’re working with contractors who don’t care about your overall vision, then your goals can get lost along the way. Even worse, those shortcuts could end up costing more in the long run.

Reason #3: Some Shortcuts are Costlier Than You Think

When you Google the phrase “Home renovation disaster,” there are some 10,000,000 results to sift through.

Why does this happen? Simple: too many people take shortcuts that end up being costlier in the long-run. The end-result is a renovation that costs more…for work that’s of far less quality.

You should remain wary of contractors who will offer you the cheapest possible quote by providing you with cheap, low-quality products in the home. If you do that, it’s possible you can do a home renovation for under budget…but chances are it won’t last like the quality renovation would have.

That isn’t to say that you can’t have reasonable prices for your renovation. And it doesn’t always mean that “more expensive is better.” But you should vet any contractor that seems to bid low and be wary of such tactics in the future.

Reason #4: Shortcuts Can Require Inferior Materials

Perhaps the most important reason to not take shortcuts in a renovation is the most simple: cheaper solutions require cheaper materials and products. The end-result is less quality and maybe even a renovation that requires more renovation down the line.

For example, a hard and durable surface for your kitchen counter can last years, if not decades. It might cost a little more when you do the renovation itself, but that cost is recouped the longer you enjoy the renovation. Not only will you enjoy a longer-lasting kitchen countertop, but you’ll enjoy more quality during that time as well. The phrase “you get what you pay for” definitely applies to countertops.

It’s better to wait until you have more money saved than it is to cut corners with cheap materials you can’t rely on.

Reason #5: Shortcuts of Time Can Be Equally Disastrous

Shortcuts aren’t all about saving money. They can sometimes be about saving time—and the results can be just as tough to deal with.

The old saying “measure twice, cut once” should apply for your home renovation. You want a properly-planned renovation, which means that when the work is scheduled, your contractors aren’t taking on more work than they need to.

The rewards of accurate and proper planning in advance of a kitchen renovation include a low-stress process the entire way through.

But if a contractor seems to have no interest in scheduling, planning, or even examining the site of your renovation in the first place, that’s a sure sign there isn’t enough preparation happening. The time spent planning is worth it in the end.

Reason #6: Failing to Budget is Budgeting to Fail

You’ve heard the phrase “failing to plan is planning to fail,” right? Well, the same is true about budgeting—which is nothing more than a financial plan for your renovation.

A proper budget will do amazing things for your renovation. If your budget is too small, you can take some time and save up more to hire the right contractor. If you have enough money, you can talk to a well-reputed contractor to get an idea of what different aspects of the renovation will cost.

The most important thing here? Leaving some wiggle-room. The main problem with most renovation budgets is that they leave absolutely no room for future work and unanticipated problems during renovation. If you allot some of your budget for extra work if needed, you’ll be able to focus not on taking shortcuts to get the project done, but on spending the money to get the project done right.

Hopefully, you’ve learned a thing or two about why shortcuts can end up costing you more in the long run. It’s your home, after all—you should take the time now to invest in your long-term comfort and quality of life.

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