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When Cutting Corners on Your Home Renovation Backfires: 4 Rookie Mistakes to Avoid

When Cutting Corners on Your Home Renovation Backfires: 4 Rookie Mistakes to Avoid

In today’s post, I am sharing four instances, during my home renovation, where cutting corners (and ultimately being a cheapskate) proved to be disastrous. By sharing my cautionary tales, my hopes are that you don’t have to repeat the same rookie mistakes I have made on my fixer upper journey…

I am all for bargain hunting and price comparing, but lately it seems my penny-pinching tendencies have come back to bite me in the rear.

From being without a dishwasher for almost a month to having a liquor cabinet collapse right in front of my horrified eyes, going with the most “economically priced” items have sometimes actually cost me more in the long run.

Below are four instances where “cheaper” was a big, effing mistake…

home renovation tips for diyers

1. Low-End Kitchen Appliances:

Opting for lower-end kitchen appliances has definitely been one of the costliest mistakes that I have made during my DIY kitchen remodel.

Within two years of purchasing a refurbished oven/microwave wall combination unit, the microwave component completely went kaput. Unfortunately, the solution wasn’t as simple as just replacing the defective microwave… an entirely new combo unit was needed (requiring an additional investment of around $4000).

Further emphasizing the problem with subpar appliances, just a few weeks ago, a dishwasher which my husband and I have owned for less than a year (the brand starts with “S” and ends in “g”), experienced a mechanical failure for the second time in less than a year.

While we were luckily able to replace the part within a matter of a few weeks, I have completely lost my faith in the brand that starts with “S” and ends with “g” (where water matters are concerned at least). And so…I will forever be prepared with a stockpile of plastic utensils and paperplates just in case!

Lesson learned: In my next kitchen remodel, when appliance shopping at least, I will not let price be the determining factor.

tips for diy home remodel

2. Subpar Toilets:

This one is kind of sh*tty to discuss (pun completely intended), but the water pressure and flushing performance of the cheaper toilets we have purchased in the past (we literally went with the cheapest ones we could find), make cleaning the toilet bowl damn near impossible.

Knowing what I know now, I would have rather just spent the extra $50-$100 on a toilet that actually flushed efficiently (especially when you live in a house full of potty-training boys).

3. Cheap Wall Paint:

Back in the early days of our home renovation, I had no clue that paint quality actually made a difference in the finish of one’s walls (just as long as it’s the right color…right?).

As a result, in some of my DIY-painted rooms, I opted for the absolute cheapest product lines of wall paint at the big -box hardware stores.

Then, after hiring a professional painter years later to paint all of the main living spaces of our fixer upper in white (Chantilly Lace by BM to be exact), he gave me a hard time about using the lower quality paint, and guess what? His point was totally valid!

The lower-end paint looked pretty crappy compared to the higher quality line that the professional used for my freshly-coated white walls.

Yes…it can be expensive going with the more premium collections from Sherwin Williams or Benjamin Moore, but the richer finish will be worth it. Even better? The coverage is more superior which means less coats!

Added tip: When painting my brick fireplace white years ago, I was a slacker and failed to prep the brick with a stain- blocking primer. As you can read in this cautionary tale, I have learned never to skip on the primer when it comes to painting over surfaces like raw wood or brick…ever… freakin’…again!

above ground pool deck review

4. Incompetent Subcontractors:

The hardest, not to mention most infuriating, rookie mistake my husband and I made during our novice phase of home remodeling was hiring incompetent subcontractors as a result of 1.) Simply going with the lowest bid and/or 2). Not investigating the contractor’s credentials or references because there were no other options (it can be very difficult to find contractors in our neck of the woods).

If you have been with me since the beginning of this blog, I am sure you’ve heard me rant about the carpenter who took $3,000 cash from us for decking supplies only to never return.

In that very same year, however, we also hired a landscaper who was not qualified for the job. You see..

My husband and I had received super outrageous landscaping quotes from multiple companies and were beginning to give up hope. Reaching out to just one more company, we were so relieved when we actually encountered someone who we considered to be “reasonably priced”.

Being the naïve kids we were back then, we hired the “reasonably- priced” bidder right on the spot (without requesting any references).

While he did do some work, none of what he planted survived and he basically fell off the face of the earth when we confronted him about it.

Essentially, thousands of dollars were flushed down the toilet and all we have left to show for our investment is two janky Crepe Myrtles.

All that being said, believe it or not, today’s post was not designed to be a mere b*tch fest, but actually a cautionary tale with( hopefully) some nuggets of wisdom which you can refer to during your first home remodel.

Don’t be a total rookie like me, learn from my silly mistakes and thank you so much for stopping by!

If you found this post helpful, it would mean so much if you could share this with a friend or on social media. Thank you for supporting this small business!

Now get out there and design some good vibes along with a fabulous life.

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tips for avoiding home remodeling mistakes


My journey in interior design and home improvement began with transforming my first fixer-upper home, all while managing a budget and raising two young boys. My work, a reflection of my passion for creating beautiful, uplifting spaces, has been recognized by top publications like Better Homes and Gardens Magazine, HGTV, and more. I invite you to explore my site and witness the transformation of my home and the vibes we've designed.Read more...


Thursday 5th of August 2021

Oh boy can I relate!!! Glad to know that I am not the only cheapie but you are so right about all of it!!!!

Designing Vibes

Thursday 5th of August 2021

I guess the only way to learn a lot of this is to go thru the fire. haha!


Thursday 5th of August 2021

I feel you, I really do. I bought a condo in 2015 and hired a contractor. Yes, he was licensed and insured, but still a jerk. Knew he had to install a new hot water heater, broke the spigot and water flooded, then wanted to charge me for a plumber, who should have been used by him in the first place, and he had to patch drywall, etc. Then he was angry I made him pay the plumber. It went downhill from there. He charged an arm and a leg for a laborer to paint, then complained it wasn't enough because it took so many coats over previous dark paint (I mean, didn't he see this?) This went on and on, and when I withheld the last payment until he finished, because I knew he would disappear to a new job he started, it really got ugly. I finally paid him and told him to get out of my life (like an ugly divorce) and he hadn't even done the backsplash in the kitchen. I just bought a new condo, and it needs lots of work. Everyone knows "a guy" who paints, does floors, etc. but I was burned by an actual contractor, so I'm really paranoid now. I agree with your statement about not going cheap on products too, but the hiring workers is my big fear. It helps to know someone who has actually used the person before. And I'm a single woman, so I think this makes me more of a target.


Tuesday 10th of August 2021

@Designing Vibes, Yikes, at least I didn't lose a bunch of money! And even more scary that other people had used him and he still turned out to be bad. Thanks for sharing, I don't feel so picked upon!

Designing Vibes

Thursday 5th of August 2021

I hate that you have had to go thru all of that nonsense, Laura. So get this...the carpenter that stole the $3000? A family member had used him for several jobs, but by the time we hired him, he unfortunately fell to the throws of addiction (what we found out from his parents after doing detective work). Apparently he had done great work in the past though. Sad stuff . Wishing you good luck with everything! I know all about the paranoia though.


Wednesday 4th of August 2021

Guilty of 3 out of the 4 (cheap paint, cheap toilet & hiring incompetent contractors). Recently installed Toto Promenade II Elongated One-Piece Toilet with CeFiONtect glaze to keep your toilet clean as long as possible. Best toilet I have ever owned and totally worth it's $600 price tag.

Designing Vibes

Thursday 5th of August 2021

That sounds super fancy, Nadine. Thank you so much for the tip!


Wednesday 4th of August 2021


Totos are where dreams are made!

My bath’s Kohler Memoirs is pretty darn fantastic too and I’m in low flow California. Kohler.


Wednesday 4th of August 2021

You hit the nail on the head Erica! It is so hard to find someone out there that will not rip you off. I feel like everyone wants to charge you too much to do a minimum of work. I guess lots of research is in order.

Designing Vibes

Thursday 5th of August 2021

Yes, Mary! We have been looking for another house, but I think my biggest fear is: who the hell can I actually trust to work on the projects that are beyond our scope?