12 Biggest Renovation Mistakes as Told by Real People

Matt Ho by Matt Ho on Apr 11, 2016
Why you should care

We spoke to real people (and referred to the internet) and got them to dish the dirt on renovations gone wrong.

What better way to learn about the do’s and don’ts of renovating your space, if not by learning from others’ mistakes?

We spoke to friends, relatives, and industry pros, as well as combed through forums to bring you this list of 12 actual renovation mistakes.

Disclaimer: Some names have been changed to protect the identities of our contributors. Some responses have been abridged for efficiency – because we all have short attention spans.

1 Don’t Buy Cheap Materials

“I thought we could save money by buying lower grade materials. I thought it did the same job but for less. We picked plywood and foam boards for our kitchen cabinets and it didn’t even last 3 months!” – Madam Tan.

2 Inaccurate Measurements

“Our window guy was too busy to come take measurements so we did it. Long story short, even half an inch off makes a lot of difference. He is now insisting that we pay for the new ones that he has to make.” – Calyn.

measuring tape3 Always Communicate With Your Contractor

“Due to our hectic work schedules, we didn’t have time to meet our contractor and we just assumed that he knew what we wanted. It was the total opposite of what we explained in the first meeting. Now we have to live with our mistake, literally.” – Mr. and Mrs. Pereira.

4 Match Your Fixtures and Furniture to the Size of the Space

“My wife fell in love with an antique sink she found online and insisted we get it for our master bathroom. When it came, it was too big and the door kept hitting it. We had to pay extra to reverse the direction of the door.” – Mr. Kumar.


huge chair

5 Know Your Lighting

“Most of my clients don’t understand that there are 3 types of lighting; general lighting that brightens up a large area of space (e.g. fluorescent ceiling lights), task lighting that only illuminates a specific area (e.g. dining down lights), and accent lighting that sets the mood or ambience (e.g. hall lamps).” – Ms. Angelyn Khoo, Interior Decorator.

A reading light is a task light.

reading light6 Don’t Follow Trends

“Trends don’t last long. When the hipster craze came, we rushed out to buy furniture made out of pallet wood and repurposed metal items. We even removed our kitchen tiles and gave it a cement render. After 6 months, we didn’t like it. It was like living in a bankrupt hipster cafe” – Anonymous

Comfort > swag.

wood pallet bed

7 Get Itemised Billings from Your Contractors/Vendors

“My contractor gave me a quotation for one lump sum and by completion, I realised a lot of things were not part of the package and had additional costs. Always ask for a detailed quotation and final bill, and run through every item with them” – Justin.

8 Measure Your Doorways, Corridors, Staircase, and Elevator Space

“We bought a couple of big, ready-made furniture and when it was delivered, the furniture could not fit into the elevator. After agreeing to tip the delivery guys, they carried it up 6 floors only to realise it couldn’t fit into our doorway. We had to pay extra for them to take it apart and reassemble it inside.” – Jonathan and Koh Ying.

9 Use the Right Paint for the Right Surface

“To save money, we decided to paint the house ourselves but we didn’t know there were different kinds of paints. There’re specific paints for wood, metal, walls, indoor, outdoor and even roof tiles. We bought a wood gloss paint for our walls. Not our brightest moment.” – Khairul.

The Dulux Wash & Wear interior paint is suitable for interior walls. Make sure to ask the hardware or paint shop for advice on paint type.

dulux interior paint

SOURCE: shop.hg.com.au

10 Plan Your Wall Plugs

“A lot of clients tend to overlook the importance of power points. They focus on other aspects of the premise but never the wall plugs. You need to see if you have enough to go around to avoid doing dangerous DIY electric work in the future. Don’t plug in too many devices into one wall socket.” – Mr. Foong, contractor.

11 Check if You Need Permits to Avoid Fines

“In order to do any renovation, my condo requires residents to submit forms and a deposit before any work is done. I didn’t know about this and the condo management fined me. So always check. Even if you have a landed house, check with your local municipal council.” – Mr. Jerry

12 Don’t Do Big DIY Projects Unless You Have Time and Experience

“We wanted to convert our shower space into a bathtub plus shower. Since the tub already set us back quite a sum, I decided to hack the shower myself. Didn’t know the wall had water pipes in it. Ended up paying more to repair water damage, broken tiles, and a bruised ego.” – Mr. Vincent.

If this is your assistant, you best hire a pro.

puppy with construction tools

SOURCE: getwhatyouwant.ca

Hire a professional for your renovation. Get in touch with Malaysian interior designers.
You can also check out other local interior design portfolios.

Why you should care

We spoke to real people (and referred to the internet) and got them to dish the dirt on renovations gone wrong.

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