Updated from Bringing the Hidden Costs for Remodeling Projects into the Light, November 2020.
Home Improvement Shows Make Radical Transformations on Small Budgets
How do they do that? The short answer is there are often hidden costs or investments that homeowners must make for a successful remodeling project, and home improvement shows don’t address those costs. I’m going to admit, I enjoy watching an occasional HGTV show; primarily to get design ideas or to watch radical transformations. However, I also get frustrated by the pricing and the timeframe they say it takes to accomplish what they do.
Hidden Costs, Hidden No More
There is a plethora of costs that many homeowners may not think of when they get the sticker shock of what their remodel will cost. We all understand the pricing of hard cost products such as cabinetry, countertops, tile, and appliances, but there are many more hidden costs that may be forgotten.
Property Lines – For a home addition, we must look at a homeowner’s property to ensure it is indeed theirs and not their neighbors. For a variety of reasons, property lines can get blurred over time, so if they haven’t completed a land survey recently, we’ll have to get one to ensure we don’t build on your neighbor’s lot.
Building Permits – A building permit gives formal permission to build a home project. It says that your plans comply with building code, local zoning by-laws and any other laws or regulations that might apply. During the major milestones of the remodel, the city will send inspectors to ensure that the project is complying. The cost of the permit and working with the inspector are typically not realized by a homeowner but are a hidden cost in a remodel.
Demolition Costs – It’s “interesting” to watch demo day on reality home renovation shows. They make it seem like carefree fun. They’ll use sledgehammers to punch holes in walls and tear down outdated cabinets. It takes only a short time to complete, and the worksite is somehow meticulously clean.
Our approach to demo is to take things apart piece by piece rather than the wrecking ball approach. It’s safer and more efficient, and the wrecking ball method often creates more damage than necessary. It can also be extremely tedious—sometimes it means removing all the nails in the studs, one-by-one, so new material can be applied. It might mean tearing out floors which can mean lots of trips with the wheelbarrow to the dumpster.
Site Protection – Virtually all remodeling projects require some degree of demo, and with demo comes dust and debris. A good “site prep” plan is vital. Site protection involves protecting your home from not only construction activity, but also the traffic of the workers coming and going. Planning the best route for the various trades with the least amount of disruption includes providing the necessary protection for your home during your remodel. A roll of duct tape and plastic sheeting is not sufficient or how Corinthian approaches protection of your home, and this costs more.
Trash and Debris Removal – Every home remodel requires a commercial dumpster, for the demolition phase as well as debris throughout the project. As you tear down sheetrock, rip up carpet or take off countertops, you end up with a lot of debris. Homeowners don’t typically consider this cost, which for a larger renovation requires multiple dumpsters (paid for by the dumpster size, months of the remodel, and weight of the dumpster). Throughout the project, there is job site debris that needs to be disposed of and it can’t go in your garbage can. As completion of the remodel gets closer, there will be boxes from products installed (think appliance-sized boxes). Trash is typically not on a homeowner’s mind when focusing on the pretty new space in their home.
Old Work, New Laws – The older your home is, the more likely that someone in the past has used a shortcut or two to make things fit well. These workarounds might be effective, but they possibly aren’t legal and may require expensive and drastic changes to get them up to code. Also, if there has been no major construction in decades, there’s a good chance that your current setup doesn’t meet today’s regulations. It may require a lot of additional work just to meet current building-code requirements.
Shipping and Transportation of Materials – With increased fuel costs, many vendors are raising or adding delivery fees. These fees can skyrocket due to the weight of building materials being delivered. Loads containing items like tile, stone, and mortar are particularly heavy. Heavier loads mean bigger trucks, more manpower, and extra fuel that results in increased costs not considered.
Clean Up – Corinthian prides ourselves on the cleanliness of our job sites throughout our remodels. We are not only cleaning on a weekly, and sometimes a daily basis, but professional cleaning at the completion of our remodels occurs. This is an added cost often not considered when evaluating the cost of a remodel.
It’s also important to understand that there is a cost associated with design and the management of the remodeling project that you don’t see addressed in a typical HGTV show budget. Hopefully being aware of just some of the hidden costs associated with a home remodel will help you understand the cost of your home remodel.
Hire a Reputable Professional
A Design/Builder in Chicago stated this best, “The construction industry and buyers have perpetuated a market in which the lowest bidder sets the standard for what a job should cost, creating a misperception of what projects actually cost. This does a huge disservice to both our clientele and our industry.” He also states, “While choosing between a better, faster, or cheaper focus leaves most businesses crafting a “better” differentiator, many contractors continue to try to be either cheaper or faster, often believing that being both is the best way to secure work. This leaves them in the position of being the lowest bidder. Low dollars get the job, and then they try to cover the potential losses by either cutting corners or adding charges.”
Corinthian has been in the remodeling industry in Indianapolis for over 25 years. We pride ourselves on the experience and product we provide our homeowners. From the first sales call to the last hammer nailed, we strive for excellence, which costs more than a handyman.
Now back to that HGTV show about a complete gut and remodel of a kitchen…for $12,000, in 3 weeks…not likely!