5 Nightmare Home Renovation Stories (And How They Finally Got Fixed)

If something looks or smells unusual, check on it right away. Don't wait!

room being renovated

Getty Images / Martin Deja

Regardless of how prepared you may be, who you hire to help, and how much effort you’ve put in to your pre-planning, organization, and steps heading into your renovation, there’s still a chance that something may go wrong. For many, this “something” wasn’t so little. In fact, these five people share their nightmare home renovation stories and how they, despite all odds, overcame them (and lived to tell the tale).

We Ran Out of Flooring

Flooring—and running out of flooring—is a home renovation nightmare. As Lucas Machado, owner of House Heroes LLC shares, his very first project didn’t quite go as planned. 

Towards the end of the renovation project, Lucas gets a call from his contractor letting him know that the flooring they had purchased (and that his contractor had already installed 95% of) wasn’t enough to finish the job. 

“[The flooring] was out of stock, and no longer in production,” Lucas says, “I came to find out that [my contractor] had bought the flooring from a wholesaler, who had bought some leftovers from one of the big name stores. 

I spent hours and hours calling every store and wholesaler I could find all over the state, but didn't have any luck. After some very diligent googling, I came to find out that that big name store was selling that same flooring under a different brand name, in Canada! 

So how was I going to get the flooring to south Florida from Canada?

The store wouldn't ship it or deliver to me. So, I called a mailbox and shipping store near their location and was able to arrange for them to receive the delivery…and then mail it to me. It ended up being QUITE expensive flooring! $130 worth of flooring and $420 in shipping and delivery!”

On top of that Lucas’ contractor had a previously scheduled vacation—which he took during all of this—and then proceeded to extend the trip another week instead of finishing the renovation! Needless to say, Lucas and that contractor went their separate ways, and with a new contractor (who has been with Lucas ever since), the project ended up a huge success. 

We Had Many Uninvited Guests 

Moving into a new space may, unfortunately, bring some unwanted guests. For this Chicago couple, their ‘dream home’ turned out to not really belong to them. Kelly Liu, a new fiancé, shares her quarantine story: “We moved into our apartment in the middle of quarantine. After a lengthy process of trying to find a place that felt right and jumping through hoops with the virus, we found this quaint little place in the heart of Lincoln Park. We loved it! But after we finally put our boxes away, I started to notice weird sounds.

I was working from home at the time and honestly, I thought I was going crazy with the isolation. But the sound kept up. Finally, I made my fiancé sit in complete silence with me on a Saturday until he heard it. 

Flash forward two weeks and we finally got an appointment for an exterminator to take a look. He discovered an entire mouse colony (and when I say colony, I mean multiple families and at least fifty mice!) living in the pipes behind the bathroom and in the walls.

I never thought I’d be the kind of person to freak at a mouse, but seeing how many there were…and watching them all scatter when the exterminator moved some tile flooring was actually terrifying. 

We actually are going through the process, now, of selling the apartment. Not exactly because of the mice…but, that didn’t help.”

Things Got A Little…Backed Up

Toilet clogs are never fun, but for Stephany Smith and her London-based plumbing company, My Plumber Ltd., this job was a little harder than most:

“A newly-married couple called us with an SOS request for help because they poured cement down the toilet during a home renovation. The ability to work on a DIY renovation sometimes comes with a nightmare.

People usually don’t realize that since cement or concrete is (initially) liquid, they won’t harm their drain pipes. To minimize the discomfort of disposing of the excess cement, the new homeowners poured a small amount of renovation materials down the toilet.

Not expecting that the material will harden with water and the other flowing stuff, they come to a dreadful situation of a blocked toilet.”

Stephany’s team was able to navigate the blockage with some high-end equipment. Her advice to anyone doing a DIY renovation: just call an expert!

Those Weren't Water Droplets on the Ceiling

When it comes to home renovations, it’s best to not cut corners. For this small family in central Texas, it didn’t take long to discover the ceiling paint job in the primary bedroom was far from quality. This ceiling, painted an unfortunate dark navy (that the family hadn’t requested but accepted to get the six-week-long renovation process finally finished) started looking bubbly and wet a few weeks after the renovation.

“I noticed what looked almost like wet water droplets from the moisture growing on the ceiling,” John Redmond, father of four and local banker said, “At first, we chalked it up to the Texas humidity, but after a few days, something started to feel ‘off.’

I finally got a ladder and went up there. The paint could scratch off, and piece by piece, I discovered what the painters had really gone over—light blue paint with spots of black mold! Turns out there was a reason the ceiling was painted that dark navy.”

After a bit of back-and-forth, the original contractor and new crew came, stripped the ceiling paint and drywall, dried out the space, repaired the ceiling, and repainted a beige (and much brighter!) color. The whole process took weeks, but it was worth it for John and his family to finally call their place home.

About This Term: Primary Bedroom

Many real estate associations, including the National Association of Home Builders, have classified the term "Master Bedroom" as discriminatory. "Primary Bedroom" is the name now widely used among the real estate community and better reflects the purpose of the room.

Read more about our Diversity and Inclusion Pledge to make The Spruce a site where all feel welcome.

Our Wall Was Hiding a Gross Secret

If the walls could talk, what stories would they share? For Lorie Anderson, founder of Mom Informed, the stories of her walls still haunt her, even years after her home renovation.

“We had some contractors a few years back to renovate half our house. One of the projects involved replacing the drywall in our bedroom,” Lorie says. “The project looked great, but after a few weeks, we started to smell a foul odor in our room and could not identify the source. It got so bad that my husband and I had to sleep in the living room for a few days while we tried to figure out what it was.

Anyway, upon inspection of the room, I noticed that there was a soft, wet spot on part of the drywall that the contractors put in. We called the contractor to let him know, and he sent some guys out to take a look at it.

Well, they ended up having to remove it, and what they found was absolutely horrifying:

Apparently, one of the guys had left half a sandwich on the horizontal drywall stud and then put drywall over it by accident. At some point, it had fallen to the floor and turned into a thick puddle of mold and maggots.

Luckily, I wasn’t there and only my husband saw it. I’m not sure if I would’ve been able to sleep in my room anymore. They fixed it, paid for extermination services, and put new drywall up for free, but I’m still slightly haunted by the thought.”

Yikes. If you’re thinking about renovating your home, keep this in mind: your experience can’t get any worse than these poor five families/couples! Do you have a home renovation nightmare that you want to share? Let us know!