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HGTV’s Ben and Erin Napier on the 9 Renovating Mistakes They’ll Never Make Again

The hosts of HGTV's Home Town renovated their home when they were newlyweds. Since then, they've made renovation dreams come true for many clients. But hey, even our favorite folksy renovation pros make mistakes. Here are the ones they'll never make again and how you can avoid them.

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HGTV-Home Town Hosts, Jackson, USA - 27 Apr 2017

Trying to DIY all projects

Ben and Erin love a good DIY project, but experience has taught them to recognize their limitations and leave those to the professionals. “For larger renovations like layout or structural changes, electrical or kitchen remodels, you should enlist the help of a professional to make sure the job is done right the first time,” they say. If you don’t know where to start, try Home Depot Home Services. They have local, licensed, and insured service providers who can meet you for a free consultation to discuss your project, the Napiers say. Before you pick up a hammer, take a look at these 12 home improvement projects you should never, ever DIY.

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Laying ceramic floor tiles - man hands marking tile to be cut, closeup

Measuring floor tiles incorrectly

“Measure twice and cut once” is an old proverb that still rings true today. “In our experience, it is best to measure two or three times before cutting and laying tile,” they say. “If a tile is cut unevenly or not secured properly to the subflooring, it can cause it to lift out of place, adding additional hazards and obstacles.” Accurate measurements also mean you’ll buy the correct amount of tile for the project.

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Close-up view of bathroom vanity cabinet topped with white and grey counter paired with tile backsplash under framed mirror. Northwest, USA Northwest, USA

Avoiding color in small spaces

Ben and Erin will never play it safe again—at least when it comes to color in small spaces. “If you’re revamping a tight space like a bathroom or entryway, it’s easy (and safe) to stick to one color palette and keep the design simple,” they say. But adding hints of color is so important in small spaces. “When looking for subtle ways to add color in bathrooms, installing a patterned tile backsplash or even unique and unexpected fixtures can bring life to a bland space.” And don’t forget about other details like linens or shower curtains.

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Male technician fixing air conditioner indoors
Africa Studio/Shutterstock

Forgetting about your heating and cooling system

We’re all about creating a beautiful new interior or eye-catching curb appeal but many homeowners tend to forget about nonaesthetic things like the heating and cooling system. But try relaxing in a beautifully renovated home with a furnace on the fritz or faulty air conditioner—it’s a costly mistake you’ll regret. “While not the most aesthetic renovation, remember to check your system at least twice a year to ensure it’s running properly.” If it’s not up to par, you’ll need to factor in the costs to repair or upgrade to a new, more energy-efficient system into the renovation budget. Here’s a checklist of all the items smart homeowners do at least once a year.

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Ceramic Tiles. Tiler placing ceramic wall tile in position over adhesive with lash tile leveling system

Beginning a renovation before gathering supplies

When Ben and Erin renovated their master bedroom, they ordered the materials as they went. But at one point they realized they didn’t have enough tile to complete the job. Buying more tile (or other materials) isn’t always as easy as a quick trip to the home improvement store, as was the case with the Napiers reno. The delay in getting the additional tile created a domino effect that stopped the electrical work and the painter. “Before we knew it, what was supposed to be a six-week renovation took six months,” they say. Now, they don’t swing the first hammer until absolutely everything they need to complete the job (tiles, paints, nails, etc.) is on site.

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Young adult writing personal diary
EM Karuna/Shutterstock

Nixing things you really want to save money

Renovations are all about including the components that are missing to make your house feel like home, but if you don’t pin those things from the start, you may run out of money and end up with renovations that just feel so-so. “Make a prioritized list and feel confident spending a little extra on those items you really, really want,” the Napiers say. “It will make your house feel like your home, and you won’t have regrets once the project is over wishing you hadn’t sacrificed on that ice maker or heated floors.”

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Kitchen Interior with Island, Sink, Cabinets, and Hardwood Floors in New Luxury Home. Features Elegant Pendant Light Fixtures, and Farmhouse Sink next to Window

Taking on too much

Renovating can be stressful when you are doing multiple projects at once, especially if you’re living in the house while the chaos ensues. Ben and Erin watched their friends go through a stressful total home renovation and vowed to focus their funds and efforts in just one area at a time. “It can be difficult to manage the budget, timeline, and decision-making all while maintaining daily life. We followed this advice, and it kept us sane.” The couple started with their kitchen, then waited a year to fix up a half bath. “It helped keep us on budget and our house livable throughout the renovations.” Check out these simple DIY home improvements you can do in a weekend.

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Image of team engineer checks construction blueprints on new project with engineering tools at desk in office.

Expecting smooth-sailing

The contractors are on time. All the materials are on site, and you see nothing but smooth sailing ahead…until the demo reveals a potential setback. “To keep your sanity, you have to level set your expectations at the beginning of any project to anticipate that there will likely be a few unexpected setbacks and hurdles along the way,” the Napiers say. This is something Ben and Erin practice as they are currently renovating their home. “While we were both out of town, we got several calls and messages about issues that were coming up at the house. It’s helpful to be solutions-oriented and also remind yourself that the issues are only temporary.” That said, you’ll want to keep your eyes open for these signs you’re about to hire a bad contractor.

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Close-up of man using digital tablet near window at home

Forgetting to take before and after photos

Ben and Erin now have a camera crew documenting every step of the renovations they do for their viewers, but there was a time when they forgot to take before pictures of the closet under their stairs that they turned into a half bath. It wasn’t until they were midway through the renovations that they did and now they regret it.” It’s such a pleasure to look back months, or even years, down the road and reminisce on a house that turned into a home.” Before you get started fixing up your home, check out the renovations homeowners regret the most.

Lisa Marie Conklin
Lisa Marie Conklin is a Baltimore-based writer who writes regularly about pets and home improvement for Reader's Digest. Her work has also been published in The Healthy, Family Handyman and Taste of Home, among other outlets. She's also a certified personal trainer and walking coach for a local senior center.