Embarking on a home renovation can be messy, inconvenient and at times very stressful. I always say your relationship with your contractor is like a marriage. It will have its ups and downs and in some cases there is a divorce. Being realistic and communicating constantly with your renovator is the number one thing you can do to avoid these hidden costs and to make your project run smoother. There are allot of working parts behind the contractor and your project that you may not see that bring your project to completion.
1. Changing Your Mind
The biggest potential hidden cost will shock you. Quite simply, it’s you the Client — specifically, when you change your mind. Ninety-five percent of costs come from changing the scope of work, inadequate scopes of work and scope creep — basically, change orders.
We had one client who changed her mind a lot, including on custom cabinetry that had not yet arrived for install. Just because it’s not at your house doesn’t mean the work hasn’t been done. That behind-the-scenes work has a cost, especially when a change is made. It’s not a dishonest need for more money on the contractor’s side; it’s because there has already been time and effort spent on the back-end that may not be apparent to the homeowner.
We had anouther client that kept adding to his project, small things and big things and wondering why the cost was more than the estimate. Simple change like tile selection can cost you allot more as the tile may cost more a sqft for the tile but also install as it may take more work. Remember these changes change the costs and in some cases change plans with the city. Changes cost money so be aware of this.
2. Surprise Structural Changes
The drywall is demoed and suddenly you have a new vision for your home — one with an open floor plan. Or a beam you thought was strong, turns out not to have proper load bearing. Old addition or renovation that wasn’t done correctly. For a kitchen renovation alone, unplanned structural changes will bloat your budget by 15 to 20 percent. Plan structural changes into your initial budget by exploring all options with your renovation before work begins.
3. Bringing Your Home “Up to Code”
Building codes were originally designed to protect public health and safety, but government agencies are now using codes to implement policies such as energy efficiency and sustainability. This slew of new building standards can mean hidden costs — especially for homes built ages ago.
Ridgewater frequently runs into this problem. We go into homes that were well-built at the time, but now the code has changed. The code in BC, and most of the country, is if during the renovation you discover something that is not code, you have to bring it up to code. It’s an added expense to to your project.
4. Improper Building Practices
Your home might look fine from the outside, but when a renovation digs into walls the truth is revealed about just how sound it was built — and just how much more you’ll pay. On one of Ridgewater’s projects, we had to add a pocket door to an existing addition. When we opened up the wall we found electrical issues, hidden junction boxes, framing issues, nothing about it was to code. We had to open up all the wall for structural and rewire the whole addition incurred a huge cost. Sure some guys will look the other way and do the job not to code and these are the guys that will give the industry a bad name. We had another project, the house wasn’t level, well the client doesn’t have it in there budget to level the house so do we build to the unlevel house or build it level? We built it level, but it takes more time.
5. Higher Utility Bills
Should you expect higher utility bills during construction? These increases are inevitable. With general contractors plugging in compressors and nail guns, your bill will go up.
6. Boarding Pets
Whether it’s cats, dogs or farm animals, your four-legged friends can get in the way of a renovation. I’m sure owners never thought about their pets. For the safety of your pets, add boarding into your budget.
7. Eating Out
If your house is being renovated and the kitchen is involved, and you’ve no alternative gas or power line for your appliances, expect an expensive month of eating out. You can ask your renovator to create a temporary kitchen to avoid this, but if that’s too costly, instead plan for easy-to-make no-cook meals as well as takeout and eating out.
8. Pest, Rot, Asbestos and Damage
Unforeseen costs lurk where pests such as termites hang out. Termite damage can add money to your renovation fast. Rotting wood will also put a damper on your reno, which is why it’s important to keep plants and irrigation at least five feet away from the foundation of your home. Water damage found in the structure of any home is huge for hidden costs and a huge safety concern.
Homes older than 1990 need to be tested for asbestos. If asbestos is found this can add thousands of dollars to your budget to be removed. But this removal also needs to be done right.
9. Your Time Is Money
During a renovation, you’ll need to take time off work to meet with a contractor or make selections at showrooms. Your work schedule can it handle the decisions that need to be made? If you have your own business, factor in lost productivity or making up work that’s temporarily derailed by the renovation.
10. Moving Out/In
It may be necessary to vacate your house or move out belongings to make room for contractors. You could use PODS and keep the container outside your house, but if you prefer a climate-controlled environment, you’ll incur additional costs for moving and storing.
It’s not only your stuff that might need to move. What if your only bathroom is out-of-order or a contractor accidentally hit an electrical line in winter? For convenience, budget to spend a night or two in a hotel. Having a realistic view of your living arrangements won’t make you so upset if you need to vacate.
To set your mindset up for success, voice every want and need before your renovation or construction begins. Meet once a week with your renovator to address hidden costs as they happen.
Let’s Build Something Great!
For More Information: Ridgewater Homes