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home renovation budget

Home renovations can present hidden hurdles that can make your project a challenge. Awareness and preparation can help you get over them. Here are some tips.


Are you updating your kitchen into a sleek open space perfect for Sunday brunch? Maybe your dream project is a home theater in the basement. Whatever you’re planning in your next home renovation, chances are that budget is a huge concern.

Many homeowners and contractors do a great job of setting an overall budget they think they can live with, but it’s hard to plan for the hidden costs. If you’re planning a home renovation, keep these five hidden budget busters on the radar to help you plan for the unexpected.

1. What’s behind the walls?

Walls are one of the first and most obvious places projects go off track. Rip out a wall and you might find challenges such as mold, mildew, pest infestations, structural issues, bad plumbing, or even faulty wiring.

These issues are especially common when renovating older homes. Sometimes, a home inspection camera scope can give you some insight into potential problems, but these tools can’t find everything. Choose a contractor with experience in home renovation. Contractors’ budgets most likely include costs for unexpected structural problems — no unexpected surprises.

2. Knowing the codes

Take some time to research building codes before you tackle your project. In some jurisdictions, renovated spaces may need to be made compliant with current rules and regulations. This process could mean costly upgrades to wiring, plumbing, and smoke alarms or sprinkler systems.

3. Debris and waste management

One commonly overlooked cost in major renovation projections is what to do with the materials and debris that accumulate. Be sure you’re not overlooking dumpster rental and waste removal in your budget.

Consider how much traffic you want in your home. If the thought of construction crews tramping through your house to use the powder room is unappealing, you may want to consider renting portable toilets as well.

4. Uncontrollable utility costs

It’s not only the electricity you need for powering saws, drills, paint sprayers, sanders, and other electric tools. Think about additional costs of heating or cooling your home due to all the traffic in and out of your home.

Depending on the type of project, you might even have exposed walls and window openings that let in the heat or cold from outdoors. Expect your utility bills to climb 50 percent or more during the course of the project.

5. Keeping you and your family comfortable

Home renovations upset the rhythm of your family. This has costs, too even if they aren’t primarily a financial ones. Although they can be that, too. If you’re remodelling the kitchen, packing lunches and cooking meals is a challenge; you’ll spend more money on convenience foods and dine-out meals. If a family member has sensitivities to paint fumes or other materials used in renovation, you may need to spend a few nights or more in a hotel.

Don’t forget your pets. If your dog has a tendency to run away when the door opens or is wary of strangers, investing in doggy day care during the busiest stages of the project may be your best option.

Ten percent and knowing what to expect

For many people, tucking aside about ten percent of your expected budget to cover what-ifs and hidden expenses is a good idea. That way, you’ll have cash on hand to cover any renovation budget busters that may arise. But, equally important is the awareness of some of these hurdles. Knowing what could happen helps you to deal with it should their ugly heads rear themselves.


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Cate Morgan-Harlow

Cate Morgan-Harlow is an all arounder, writing about how-to, DIY, and design with gusto. She is a shadowy figure with a mysterious past.