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5 Problems You’re Likely to Encounter During a Renovation


You’ve dreamed of renovating a home that will feel like a luxurious escape from the craziness of the outside world. You did what you do best (outsourcing like a boss) and pulled together your dream team: your contractor and your interior designer. 

They’re both talented and experienced professionals, and they’re ready to jump all-in on your project. What could go wrong? More than you might think… and less.

More will go wrong than you expect — because most people expect sunshine and daisies, and that is simply not the nature of a renovation. BUT far less will go wrong with a professional on your side than it would if you had tried to renovate on your own. An experienced team can see a crisis coming and knows exactly how to avoid it entirely, or confront it with efficiency and strategy. That’s why you hired them! 

So, now you know that every renovation comes with its highs and lows, excitement and struggles, but what exactly might you encounter? Here’s what to expect, when it’s normal, and what we can do about it…


From our San Francisco Style Project. Photographer: David Duncan Livingston

Problem #1: Delayed Timeline

Why: Delayed permits (AKA bureaucracy), backed-up subcontractors, out-of-stock or backordered materials  

How We Handle It: 


Permits are the literal red tape of a project, which is why we map out a timeline for your project that allots 3 additional months to give space for permits to be processed and for any other obstacles we may encounter. If there aren’t delays and permits are processed quickly, then VOILA. We will likely complete your project ahead of schedule. (Don’t fall off your chair.)


Trades sometimes need to be scheduled months in advance and have materials ready when they get there. We use our go-to list of trusted subcontractors who can get the job done promptly when you work with us. Plus, we’re managing the procurement process for materials, so we will have it on site precisely when our subcontractors need it.


You may have found a countertop that’s to die for, or gorgeous tile that is a perfect match. But… womp, womp. They’re out of stock. This scenario is more common than you think, especially with Covid-19’s impact on the industry. The good news is that we can usually find alternate in-stock materials that are just as incredible. We’ll also walk you through the process of “letting go” of one and welcoming the new addition. It isn’t always easy, but that’s why we’re here.

We have another post, What’s the Deal with Lead Times?, that can answer other concerns you might have about material availability.


From our San Francisco Victorian project. Photographer: Vivian Johnson

Problem #2: Over Budget

Why: Going over budget is what we call “scope creep.” Scope creep is when clients add to the size of a project while the project is occurring, ultimately adding to the project’s overall investment.

Example: A kitchen remodel turns into a kitchen, dining, and living room remodel because of the open concept nature of the kitchen.  

How We Handle It: One of our core values is “No Haziness.” That means we are very upfront and clear about costs and project budget. We will always let you know when we are going off course and suggest solutions. Our job is to wrangle your beautiful ideas and edit them down to the best final solution within your budget. We also work with trusted builders and tradespeople who won’t try to “upsell” you. Our goal is always to have a budget-friendly solution for you. 

You can also download our Interior Design Investment Guide for some concrete numbers at multiple price tiers.


From our San Francisco Style Project. Photographer: David Duncan Livingston

Problem #3: The Unknown Behind Your Walls 

Why: When you open up the walls in a home, you don’t know what you’ll find, especially if your house is over 50 years old. You may find dry rot, cracked plumbing, electrical issues, rodent infestation, or structural problems. (That’s one thing reality shows get right.)

It’s also interesting to note that some contractors refuse to work on Eichlers, a mid-century style of house commonly found in the Bay Area, due to the structural issues they all have. 

How we handle it: A party is a fun surprise. Finding a rodent infestation is NOT. We start our projects by managing your expectations from the start so that if you do run into one of these issues, it won’t be a huge shock. We’ve designed many homes of all ages, so we have a good idea of what to expect when we open up the walls in your home. 

Keep in mind, too — we’ve done this before. There are solutions, and we have a contingency built into the budget for situations just like these. Planning really is the secret to success.


From our San Francisco Style Project. Photographer: David Duncan Livingston

Problem #4: Unclear Process & Expectations

Why: There are two possible reasons for an unclear process. Either your contractor or designer didn’t provide you with a timeline, schedule, or talk to you about “what to expect.” Or, they are disorganized, and there seems to be no rhyme or reason to their process. (There probably isn’t.)

How we handle it: At Coddington, we pride ourselves in our seamless workflow. We are the chief managers of your project and know exactly what is going to happen and when. Our job is 80-90% project management, and we take that very seriously. We give you an expert, efficient, and organized experience. Best of all? Our entire process is documented, provided, and discussed with you well in advance for your peace of mind. 

(Have a horror story you’re trying to forget? Here are 6 Ways We’re Different From Your Last Interior Designer.)

A note on trades: You may wonder why the plumber may be the only one on-site one day, while other days, it may seem like every contractor in the area has shown up. This is just how subcontractor scheduling works. Don’t worry — we’ve got it under control!


From our San Francisco Style Project. Photographer: David Duncan Livingston

Problem #5: I don’t like how this is looking!

Why: You don’t wait until the completed project to see everything together OR your interior designer did not listen to you during the process and has done it their own way. (Scary.)

How we handle it: When you work with us, we spend A LOT of time getting to know you. (Don’t be surprised if we’re friends by the end.) We dig into your likes, dislikes, where you drink your coffee and keep your keys. 

Then we provide a detailed design proposal that you sign off on before starting any work. We make sure you are in love with the design concept and selections before the work begins. We can also provide you with 3D renderings to show you exactly how your home will look.  

Then… patience. In fact, our biggest recommendation is that you move out of your house during the renovation and let us handle the day-to-day check-ins on the project. Then you won’t have to worry about all the little pieces that happen behind the scenes. 

If the design work has been done properly upfront — which it will be, because it’s built into our process — then we are confident that you will love seeing how it all comes together at the end. Because it will!

Final Words of Wisdom

A renovation is a considerable investment and knowing there will be bumps along is an important part of weathering the process stress-free. The best way to ensure that those bumps will be smooth rather than rocky is to work with people you can trust to get the project done right, on time, and within budget.

In other words, talk to multiple professionals. Vet them. Ask them questions and get to know them. In fact, here are several questions to ask your interior designer before hiring. I know you want your home now, but take your time. It’s an investment in your future, and it’s one you’ll likely want to get right the first time.

That’s it for now, but if you’re looking for a design team with a transparent and efficient process, call us and vet away! We’ll be right here for you.





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