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Diary of a Mad Renovator: The Hidden Costs of Home Renovation

Written by Jaqui Lividini

This week we are going to talk about hidden costs, those unexpected expenses that sneak up out of nowhere—and sneak up they do! It’s fairly typical in renovation for a project to go over budget, in fact, the rule of thumb is that a you can pretty much assume that your costs will double and so will your budgeted time for completion.  In our case, I think we’ve actually tripled the amount of cash and time we planned to spend. Don’t get me wrong; I do love to break records! But this is one that I’m not particularly proud of, as this is certainly not my first time at the rodeo!

Looking back, I’m not really sure how we could have avoided the pitfalls we encountered. First, there was the issue of lifting the house—a FEMA generated requirement that was the first additional expenditure we had no idea would be involved.

House being raised caused many hidden costs.

Steps to second floor were destroyed when the house was lifted.

Next, we learned we had to insulate under the house because the floor of the house is actually the roof of the garage and that needs insulation. Guess what? Not in our budget.

Roof of garage needs to be insulated - this was not budgeted! 

Our third surprise involved the furnace. We had planned for the furnace to be in the house, but subsequently decided to move it to the attic to make additional room for kitchen pantry space. This was an approved overage, but became even more expensive when the contractors realized that they couldn’t do this in a standard fashion. Non-standard equals added expense every time.

Our final surprise expense (I say optimistically!) involved our laundry room. We knew we needed a pan under the washing machine in case of leakage, but we couldn’t find one that fit. Solution? The whole floor of the laundry room was made into a “pan,” and that means added expense.

Laundry room needs a pan to prevent water from overflowing 

When it comes to hidden costs in a renovation project, the possible overages are endless, and those aren’t even for design changes—those are just unexpected bumps in the road. So, the takeaway this week: be prepared to spend more time and more money than you think you will need, and then take a deep breath and chalk it up to experience.

Have you experienced any hidden costs in your renovation? Please share the pain! 

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