15 Hidden Costs of Home Remodeling

Even though most homeowners set a budget before they start a remodeling project, the final cost of renovations can end up being thousands more. Why? Well, one big culprit is the fact that when you break down walls, you can uncover all sorts of surprising problems, from shoddy fix-ups by the previous owner to unexpected plumbing and wiring issues—and these are just the tip of the iceberg. Be prepared! Review these 15 sneaky costs of home remodeling that you could encounter in your next renovation.

  1. Obtaining Permits

    How Much is a Building Permit

    When it's time for a renovation project, homeowners can’t just whip out their power tools and start construction. If the job involves anything beyond surface changes, you'll probably have to secure some permits first. Depending on the extent of the renovations, the cost of permits can range from the low hundreds to thousands of dollars.

    Related: Worth It: 8 Renovations That Pay You Back


  2. Hiring a Professional

    How Much is a Contractor?

    Some renovation projects are simply too big for a homeowner to tackle with a sledgehammer and a few household tools. If you plan on demolishing walls around appliances or removing cabinets and flooring, or if you're uncertain about the location of your wiring and plumbing, you'll probably need to call in a professional. Hiring a contractor can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars, depending on the scope of the job.

    Related: 10 Things Your Contractor May Not Be Telling You


  3. Disposing of Debris

    How to Remove Construction Debris

    Once you’ve ripped everything out, you've got to trash your construction debris. This task is easier said than done, however, because municipalities regulate the types of waste acceptable for curbside disposal. Depending on where you live, you’ll incur costs if you need to hire a vehicle, rent a trash bin or dumpster, or recruit a company to remove the debris for you.


  4. Figuring Out Property Lines

    Land Survey to Determine Property Lines

    If you’re planning to erect a fence, wall, or landscape feature near the edge of your property, first make sure that the land you think is yours doesn't actually belong to someone else. For a variety of reasons, property lines can get blurred over time, so if you haven’t completed a land survey recently, you’ll want to order one to ensure you don’t build on your neighbor's lot. This service typically runs a couple of hundred dollars.


  5. Fixing Old Workarounds

    Fixing a Botched Repair Job

    Maybe the previous owner of your home put a new roof on top of a patchy old one, or did some clever DIY rejiggering to channel water into the laundry room. These cheap workarounds won’t fly with your new permit. If the previous homeowner was a slipshod handyman, you may have to correct dozens of botched or illegal repair jobs.

    Related: 13 Home Improvements That Are Illegal to DIY


  6. Getting Your Home Up to Code

    Outdated Building Codes

    If your home hasn’t been renovated in decades, be aware that building codes have probably changed since that last upgrade. You may need to make alterations beyond your original plan to, say, move appliances or carve out a basement bedroom—especially if you’re renovating for resale purposes.


  7. Fixing Water Issues

    Water Issues When Renovating Home

    Keeping your home dry doesn’t come cheap. Expect to uncover some sort of water issue when renovating, whether it involves water-sealing the basement, adding sump pumps, fixing leaky gutters, or grading your property to keep water away from your home’s foundation. Also, if you’re planning to add a bathroom to your home, get ready to pay thousands to have the plumbing rerouted.

    Related: 12 Things Your Plumber Wishes You Knew


  8. Remediating Pest Damage

    Fixing Damage from Pests

    When you open up walls and reveal rafters, you may uncover damage caused by termites, mice, squirrels, and other pests. Insects and critters can find their way through teeny-tiny openings and then travel all over a home, so fixing the damage they inflict can be anything from a nuisance to a several-thousand-dollar surprise.

    Related: 10 Bugs That Are Living in Your House—and How to Get Them Out!


  9. Updating Home Features

    What to Update in Home Renovation

    If you’re planning to open up walls for renovations, consider biting the bullet and updating Wi-Fi boosters, in-wall speakers, cable, and other practical and appealing built-in features. While you may not have originally planned these updates, they're useful upgrades that you may want in the future—and that will be more expensive to do after you’ve sealed up the walls.


  10. Adding Finishing Touches

    Finishing Touches for Home

    You may have budgeted for paint, tile, and cabinetry—but did you remember that you’ll need art for your new walls, drapes and blinds for your updated windows, and knobs for your freshly faced doors? People often don’t budget for decorative “extras,” but those items can add up quickly, especially if you’ve completely changed the layout or style of your home.

    Related: 14 Easy DIY Living Room Updates Anyone Can Do in a Day


  11. Hiring Child and Pet Care

    pet care during remodel

    Kids and pets don't mix well with remodeling. From strangers traipsing through the house to the loud noises and dusty conditions, you might find it necessary to keep your children and pets away from the action. Make sure you budget for babysitters, pet sitters, or out-of-the-house activities to keep everyone safe and entertained while the house is a construction zone. 


  12. Dining Out

    dining out during kitchen remodel

    If your kitchen is being renovated, your options at mealtime will be limited—and pricey. Expect to dine out or order take out more than usual. Not to mention that if you throw out all of your pantry staples that have passed their expiration date, you might spend $100 or more on restocking spices, baking supplies, and so on.


  13. Fixing the Landscape

    landscaping after remodel

    Extensive remodeling almost inevitably results in damage to landscaping: Flying shingles crush shrubs; stacks of lumber kill grass; and toxic spills destroy perennial flowers. Once the renovation is done, get ready to fix the yard. 

    Related: Here's How Much Remodeling Any Room Really Costs


  14. Cleaning Up

    cleaning after remodel

    Once work is complete, an industrial-strength deep-clean will be in order, especially if you are upgrading the home in order to sell it. According to Homeadvisor, you should expect to pay about $180 for a maid service, plus another $195 to have your carpets professionally cleaned.


  15. Surprises!

    remodel surprises

    One thing you can almost certainly expect during a home remodel? Surprises! No matter how carefully you plan, there are bound to be hiccups along the way. Whether it’s a missing shipment of tiles, a problem with the foundation, or a myriad of other scenarios, make sure you leave a little room in the budget for the unexpected.

    Related: The 7 Deadly Sins of Home Remodeling


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