top of page

14 Home Renovation Problems You'll Run Into In The Bay Area (13 Is Hard To Avoid)

Updated: Mar 29, 2020

Man renovating a house in the San Francisco Bay Area
Home renovations are tough, but here's how you can rehab like a pro!

The thought of remodeling your house is always exciting. However, a large scale home renovation project is almost guaranteed to come loaded with tons of challenges.

In this article, we'll take a deep dive into the 14 problems you're likely to run into during your next home renovation project in the San Francisco Bay Area. We'll even discuss what you can do to avoid them.

Fortunately for you, we've run into all of these issues and learned from them the hard way. Thanks to our hands-on experience, we can speak with confidence on this topic.

Reasons To Do A Home Renovation

Before signing up for a home renovation project, it's essential to understand your goals. Your goals play a significant role in how your renovation project will play out. Below are the three

common reasons you may decide to renovate your house.

Upgrade Your Living Space

You may be embarking on a home renovation project to upgrade your living space for yourself. In this case, you won't be tied to some of the constraints if you were renovating to sell the property or rent it out to a long term tenant.

Sell For A Higher Price

Completing upgrades before selling your house is a great way to increase its market value. It's critical to choose updates that will add the most value in the shortest amount of time. You also need to make sure severe issues a professional inspector would call out are fixed.

Conversion Into A Rental Property

Turning a home into a rental property is a great way to earn extra income and build equity. Depending on the market your house is located in, rental properties usually do not need as high-end materials as a house you're renovating to sell.

You can generally spend less money on renovating a house to turn into a rental property. For example, when selling a house, you may need to replace the roof if it's nearing the end of its useful life, and the buyer requests it.

When renovating a house to turn it into a rental, as long as the roof is safe and isn't leaking, potential renters probably won't care. Eventually, you'll have to replace the roof, but you can postpone it until absolutely necessary.

Most Important Rooms To Renovate

Some home renovations add more value to your property than others. If you're tied to a budget (and who isn't?), be sure to put your money where it's most valuable.


Kitchens are one of the most functionally utilized parts of the house. In no other room do we cook epic meals, wash dishes, cut fruit trays for summer get-togethers, you get it. The kitchen is an area that brings families and friends together.

Most buyers or renters will put a lot of weight on the look, feel, size, and functionality of the kitchen. Some upgrades you may want to consider are:

  • Install a new appliance package if the current appliances are out of date.

  • Upgrade to modern countertops. Granite is always welcome if you can find a great deal.

  • Consider replacing the floors to a beautiful tile if they are old and outdated.

  • Replace or refinish the cabinets.

  • Add a garbage disposal if you don't already have one. Disposals make life a little easier.

  • A simple backsplash always helps to make a kitchen look that much fancier.

Kitchen renovation costs can add up quickly, so pick and choose which items will best help your kitchen shine.


Bathrooms are the next most important area you want to tackle. We spend a lot of time in the bathroom, and it's crucial you, your buyer or renter feel comfortable in it.

Some recommended upgrades include:

  • Replacing the shower and tub if they are old and dingy.

  • Please, replace the toilets at least!

  • Upgrade to a modern tile flooring.

  • Install a new modern vanity, sink, and mirror.

  • New lighting fixtures are always welcome.

  • Bathroom remodels can also add up quickly, but should run you less than a kitchen remodel.

The Problems You'll Face During Renovations

Every home renovation project will run into roadblocks. Below, we'll talk about 14 problems you're likely to run into during your project and what steps you can take to avoid them.

1. Cost Overruns

Oh boy, I could go on and on about how often renovations cost more than expected. Seeing how all of our projects to date have wound up costing between $30,000 and $40,000 more than initially estimated.

If you have no experience in home remodeling, you're almost guaranteed to spend more than expected. And that's okay. You simply may not understand how much it costs to complete particular renovation tasks.

Before getting started, there are a few things you can do to help your project stay on budget.

  • Thoroughly review your renovation plan and document every little thing you plan on doing.

  • Do not bulk tasks into one large item. For example: "Kitchen Remodel."

  • Break everything down into small, bite-sized tasks. For example: "Replace upper and lower kitchen cabinets. Replace the kitchen sink. Replace kitchen lighting fixtures with 16 inch LED track lights."

  • Plan out every single item you plan on purchasing along with its price so you can get an estimated total material cost.

  • If you're hiring a contractor, make sure you get EVERYTHING signed and in writing! And I mean everything. The start date, the end date, the cost of labor broken down as we discussed above, and outline any penalties or bonuses for finishing on time or late.

It will help you a great deal with estimating material costs to spend a few hours at Lowe's or home depot. Take time to familiarize yourself with your options and price points for what you want to purchase.

Write down the SKU and price of everything you want to buy and install and pass the list on to your contractor.

Contractors may underbid a job upfront, then say they ran into unforeseen issues while working.

Here's an example of how underbidding would work.

  • You ask the contractor to bid the cost of installing the kitchen floor tile.

  • The contractor quotes you at $1,000

  • The contractor starts working, but mid-project tells you it's going to cost an extra $500 for whatever the reason.

  • You now end up paying a total of $1,500 Instead of the original bid of $1,000.

Contractors may use this tactic to win an initial bid if they know you have other contractors looking at the job.

The best way we've found to avoid this is to learn the construction costs in your area, so you know how much a fair bid is. Then lock your numbers into a contract with a preset amount of contingency. 10% - 20% contingency should keep you safe.

It's okay time give contractors wiggle room, but not too much!

2. Severe Delays

Have you heard the story about how one of our home remodeling projects was supposed to take 8 weeks, but it wound up taking a year and a half? No? It goes something like this:

One of our home remodeling projects was supposed to take 8 weeks, but it wound up taking a year and a half. If you think I'm joking or exaggerating, I'm not.

Long story short. Everything on this list happened to us, and I can now share this article, so the same thing doesn't happen to you.

To prevent delays, you really have to be on top of your contractor. Make sure you clearly define the expected completion date and get it signed and in writing. Hold your contractor accountable by applying a financial penalty if they miss the deadline within a certain grace period.

You should also put in the contract that you have the right to hire a new contractor of your choice to finish the job if they fail to complete the job on time.

It's also imperative to pre-plan the project as accurately as possible. The more organized you are, the better.

3. Contractors Not Showing Up On Time

As I'm sure you can see, a lot of these issues have to do with contractors. It's not uncommon for contractors to come rolling in late to the job.

Listen, we all run a little late sometimes, and there's no harm in that, but I'm talking about chronic tardiness. The type of delays where you're supposed to be onsite at 9:00, but you don't get there until 11:30 am.

We've seen this level of chronic lateness on at least one of our projects. Our contractor had bought a new business, which led to them putting us on the back burner.

What can you do in this situation? First, have a talk to see if you can rectify the problem. Hopefully, they will start coming in on time, but if not, you have to let them go.