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Scott McGillivray’s Biggest Renovation Fails, and What He’s Learned From Them

Scott McGillivray’s Biggest Renovation Fails, and What He’s Learned From Them

Scott McGillivray is a real estate expert and host of HGTV Canada’s Income Property and Moving the McGillivrays.

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I’ve been in the renovation business a long time, and while I’d like to say that everything has always been smooth sailing, the truth is that there may be one or two renovation mistakes in my past…

If a Tree Falls

If you watched the first episode of Moving the McGillivrays you’re familiar with one of my more embarrassing reno fails. There were two trees at the front of my new house that had to come down because the roots were invading the septic tank.  Just to be clear, I’ve cut down hundreds of trees in my life (don’t worry, I replaced them with new ones) and they’ve all gone pretty smoothly. But here’s the thing – trees are unpredictable. The first one came down as expected, but the second one took an unexpected turn and landed right on the front of the house. Not only did I think Sabrina might kill me, but my cameraman wasn’t too happy either!

Started From the Bottom

This is a lesson every renovator, house painter or DIYer must learn at some point, and that is when you are painting or staining a staircase, don’t start at the bottom. Of course I’m not admitting to anything here, but it may have happened on one of my sites back in the early days. The good news is that there’s no permanent damage, you just have to sit and wait for the paint to dry before you can continue on to the next step.  Trust me, it’s a mistake you’ll only make once.

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Image courtesy of Skit Inc.

Backed into a Corner

Along the same lines as the staircase thing, I would advise anyone pouring cement in a basement to start in the far corner and work your way back towards the stairs. This one I have to fully admit to because it happened during an episode of Income Property and the cameras were rolling. In my defense, I knew the proper way to do it, the cement just kind of got away from us by spreading too fast. Fortunately we were able to MacGyver our way out by building a bridge out of 2×4’s.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto.com/ elenaleonova

Measure Twice, Smash Once

Consider this my public service announcement to anyone taking on a renovation. Before you start smashing through walls, make sure they’re actually meant to come down! I’m pleased to say this is not a mistake I’ve made, but it is one that has been made on some of my sites. Homeowners and new crew members sometimes get a little too excited and start demo’ing the wrong things. I’ve walked into rooms only to find giant holes in walls that aren’t supposed to have them. Pay attention to your plans and make sure everyone’s on the same page before you pick up a sledgehammer.

Image courtesy of Skit Inc.

No Home Inspection

In all seriousness, the biggest lesson I’ve learned in my career is to always get a home inspection. It’s something I’ve always been a big proponent of, but when I bought my new home I didn’t get one. Because I have so much experience with home building and renovations I thought I would be able to recognize a lot of problems and budget accordingly. I did, but even so, there were still more problems than I expected. As a result we ended up tearing down the house and starting new. If I’d had the home inspection we would have known right from the get-go and could have saved a lot of time and money in the beginning. I’m a bit red-faced over this one, but I’d rather put it out there and admit my mistake so that others can learn from it.

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Image courtesy of iStockphoto.com/SLRadcliffe



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