How to Avoid the Most Common Home Improvement Mistakes

Eventually turning your house into the dream home you have envisioned all your life can be a thrilling endeavor. With all the excitement going on, homeowners could easily and unknowingly commit home improvement mistakes that not only leaves them frustrated in the end, but even broke as well.

Though one can never guarantee a hassle-free project, you can still save your New York home from the risks by avoiding common home improvement mistakes. As they say, an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure. So whether you are in Long Island, Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, or Staten Island; arm yourself with the right information. With this said, here are the things you can do to steer clear from pitfalls:

Set a Realistic and Flexible Budget

Probably the most common mistake when it comes to undertaking just any home improvement is busting the budget. When setting a budget, it is important that you already have an idea on what you want done and have already researched on the closest estimate you could get. Be as specific as possible when it comes to the type and quality of fixtures and materials you want to integrate into the project. Getting multiple estimates from qualified contractors would also be beneficial.

Make sure that you have a secure financial source from where the home improvement budget will be taken from. There are lots of options from withdrawing from your own savings to obtaining a loan. But however you decide to finance the project set allowances to cover unexpected expenses.

If You are Not Qualified, Leave It to the Pros

Underestimating what a home improvement project requires can be disastrous. Weigh your skills and experience carefully. Being honest to yourself would payoff big, while doing otherwise would lead to sloppy jobs that will eventually require you to hire a contractor to repair the damages that you have done.

If you really need to cutback on labor costs, there are plenty of tasks that you can have done yourself. This can be arranged with your hired contractor.

Never take Your Eyes Off of Your Goal

While the construction is ongoing, any homeowner can be taken off-track if he or she is not careful. Throughout home improvement project progress, there would always be ideas popping into your head. Changing plans while the project is at work will be costly and can lead to unsatisfactory results. Before any work begins, make sure to discuss and polish the remodeling specification plan with your contractor. If you have to change anything, this time would just be perfect. Sticking to the original plan would make the job completion faster, within budget and more efficient.

Leaving It All to Your Contractor

Even if you have availed of the services of a project manager or general contractor to foresee everything for you, this does not mean that when everything is all set you leave everything to them and get back at them by the time the project is finished. This is not how it works, especially if you decide to do the management yourself. It is crucial that you make yourself aware of the project’s progress as well as the issues arising throughout its completion. As it is your money that is being spent, ask questions and know how and why it is being spent.

The Number 1 Home Security Mistake

There are many home security mistakes that we all make. This includes the obvious mistakes that most of us know better than to try, such as putting a spare key under a doormat, to mistakes we know we ought to avoid but still do, such as not activating our alarm systems when we leave the house for only a short period of time or not putting lamps on timers to make it look like we’re home when we’re not. It even includes less-well-known items (that I strive to make people aware of) such as improving the quality of the windows, doors, locks and even the strike plates on our door frames, all which help tremendously to keep burglars out of our homes.

All of these mistakes should be avoided and improving any of them can go a long way toward feeling safe at home.

There’s an even bigger mistake

But, there’s still one more big mistake that people make. It’s a mistake that I think is bigger than any of the ones mentioned earlier! It’s more important than any others! This #1 biggest mistake? Assuming that it won’t happen to you.

No one is completely immune

There is no city, community or neighborhood that is completely immune from crime. There are definitely some that are safer than others, but burglaries can and do happen anywhere. Since there is some randomness as to whether you’ll ever experience a break-in, be prepared under the expectation that it can happen to you, rather than living under the false assumption that it won’t. Living in a “safe neighborhood” doesn’t mean it can’t happen to you. It only means that it may be less likely to happen to you.

This mistake arises from the assumption that it can’t (or won’t) happen to you just because your neighborhood is “safe”.

If you’ve ever put off thinking about home security because you live in a safe neighborhood, you’re not alone. But don’t put it off any longer. Your safety is too important!

Be aware of what goes on in your neighborhood

Have you ever done any checking around to find out just how safe your neighborhood really is? Thanks to easy internet access to almost anything, it’s not at all difficult to do some quick research into crime rates in your neighborhood. Crime can and does happen anywhere, so don’t let a few reports of crime shatter your view of your neighborhood. But you should be aware of what goes on around you.

Periodically check community, city or regional web sites, talk to neighbors, look at crime reports and neighborhood crime rates published by local police departments. Don’t be oblivious to what’s going on around you and as a result, not do much to protect yourself against crime.

With the economic mess we’re in, crime is up almost everywhere. Even safe neighborhoods are more vulnerable now. There are more desperate people out there.

If you live in a safe neighborhood, congratulations! Take full advantage of the comfort that can provide. But be cautious about not being lulled into a false sense of security!

Home Security Mistakes to Avoid With Your Doors and Windows

Let’s look at the common home security mistakes that people often regarding their doors and windows. Being aware of these is the first step toward better protecting your own home.

Mistake #1: Not securing all your doors

The first mistake is not securing back or side doors as well as the front door.

Burglars don’t care which door they get in through. If one door is well-secured and one isn’t, guess which one they’ll try?

It’s very common for front doors to be solid, but rear and side doors to be flimsy, especially in older homes. A burglar might actually prefer a side or a rear door, because that’s going to be away from the street where they can be less visible.

Any entrance door, wherever it is located should be a sturdy steel door and frame with deadbolts and strike plates.

Don’t forget about your sliding glass doors which typically have notoriously bad locks.

Fortunately, there’s a fantastically easy solution: just lay down a piece of wood, such as a dowel in the track to keep the door from sliding open if the lock is defeated.

Mistake #2: Old or broken locks & windows

The second mistake is not replacing broken or old locks on doors and windows-or even the broken or old doors and windows themselves!

This one may not seem obvious after you think about it a bit-after all, a broken latch or lock might not be visible, but all that really means is that it won’t attract a burglar. You don’t want to make their job easy if they should happen to try to open it.

Several problems fall under this category:

1. Many doors can easily be kicked in.

The experts recommend having a sturdy, reinforced steel door.

They also recommend improving the strike plate on your door (the piece of metal that attaches to the door frame or door jamb where the deadbolts or latch extends into the frame) or installing one if you don’t have one on each outside door. Deadbolts should not extend directly into the wooden frame.

Unfortunately, most strike plates come with relatively short screws, like an inch or so, so make sure the strike plates you have and any new ones have much longer screws. Short screws can pull out with a good kick to the door, ripping the strike plate out of the door frame, and probably shattering the frame-and then the burglar’s in.

2. Make sure you have a deadbolt on every outside door. This is really important. As I’m sure you know, a deadbolt is much harder to defeat than spring-loaded latches, which you should never rely on for outside doors.

3. Change the locks if you didn’t do so when you moved in. Not changing the locks isn’t quite like leaving the place wide open, but it does mean that someone may have the key to your place. And if they didn’t change the locks when they moved in, then someone else may have a key as well.

This can get a little tricky with apartments. Not all landlords are going to be proactive about this. You might need to ask them or even bug them a bit to get them to change locks.

Mistake #3: Unlocked doors and windows

The last mistake on my list: unlocked doors and windows.

How many times have you left your home wide open?

Have you ever gone ever gone over to a neighbor’s house or apartment intending to come right back, only to end up staying much longer? Have you ever gone to run a quick errand and decided not to bother locking up because you’d be back so quickly? Have you ever slept with the window open in the room or a different room?

Or have you mowed the lawn or done other yard work, worked out in the garage, or sat out on the patio leaving doors open that you couldn’t see?

How secure is your home?

Are you making any of these common mistakes at your home? Correct them now and better protect yourself and your home!