When it comes to fixing up your home, what sounded simple in theory can end up more challenging than expected. People face multiple obstacles when renovating, from lacking the right tools and know-how to random, inexplicable accidents.

However, with a little savvy, you can overcome the most common home improvement challenges. Here are the top five, and how to cope with them when they occur.

1. Underestimating Cost and Time Commitment

The most common home improvement challenge is running out of money halfway through the project. Nearly half of all homeowners end up going over budget on renovations.

Experts recommend setting aside at least 20% more than your original estimate. That way, you have plenty in the kitty if supply shortages increase prices, or you end up having to buy that miter saw after all.

Another pro-tip for saving sweet moolah — investigate rental options. Some chain home improvement centers let you lease the tools you require at a fraction of the cost of buying new. Don’t underestimate the value of friendship, either. If your neighbor always borrows your ladder to hang holiday lights, it’s time for him to return the favor if he has an item you need.

2. Lacking the Requisite Expertise

Home improvement shows make anything from hanging shelves to tearing out pipes look like a walk in the park. However, bear in mind that the actors have crews of helpers and equipment at their disposal. You don’t.

Another perk they have is that home improvement is their bread and butter. Some projects, like electrical work, require a level of expertise. You wouldn’t expect to play in the NFL after tossing the pigskin around your yard with your kids a few times.

Know when to DIY and when to call in the troops. While the hefty labor expense is one of the challenges of renovating, it pales beside the cost of starting an electrical fire or flooding your home.

3. Mismanaging Burnout

Following a home improvement project from start to finish can be exhausting work. The time and energy involved in that kind of balancing act can take a lot out of you. Naturally, some homeowners need to deal with home improvement burnout.

To avoid that rut, find innovative ways to blow off steam and schedule regular breaks — it’s unrealistic to go through months of remodeling without a weekend or two off. Here are a few ways to keep yourself in good shape:

Have a small family barbeque.
Plan a date night with your partner.
Enjoy a movie marathon.

4. Relying on Unlicensed Contractors

You decided that a job was too much for you to handle, and you wisely hired help. How did you vet your contractor? Hiring unreliable workers is a significant home improvement challenge.

Anyone who can swing a hammer — and some who can’t — can advertise handyman services. However, they cannot call themselves licensed contractors.

State licensing requires individuals to pass a series of tests to prove competency in their desired role. That’s why you should always select a professional with such a designation.

Another way to perform due diligence is to research the companies you hire online. Sites such as Angie’s List feature reviews from others who have used these businesses. While one or two negative marks in a sea of positive ones shouldn’t cause too much concern, a string of disgruntled reviews means you should shop elsewhere.

5. Not Getting Everything in Writing

Finally, while Contract Law 101 doesn’t necessarily require all agreements to be in writing, you’ll have a heck of a time enforcing your rights in court without one. Plus, putting everything in black and white reduces the chances of future disputes when the bill comes due and you faint in shock at the sticker price.

Make sure your contract covers the following terms:

Estimated time: While some jobs do take longer than anticipated, contractors should let you know how long their work boots will tramp through your castle.
A detailed explanation of fees: Some contractors bid by the job, while others charge by the hour. The first method’s advantage is that you pay the same price even if the work goes over time or budget. The latter saves you cash if they can knock the chore out lickety-split.
Acts of God clause: You don’t want to think about a freak hurricane damaging exposed studs, but these things do happen. Make sure your contract outlines who is responsible for what if the unexpected occurs.

Avoid These 5 Most Common Challenges of Renovating a Home

DIY always entails home improvement headaches. Understanding these five most common challenges of renovating will make your project run more smoothly.