Planning for Unexpected Costs During a Whole House Remodel

When embarking on plans to remodel your home, many considerations need to be factored into your budget. Solid planning is required and yet you may still discover you have overlooked some important contingencies. Most construction projects hit unexpected costs sooner or later. And at the very least the owner inevitably finds themselves up for a few incidental expenses they hadn't foreseen. Depending on the extent or severity of the unexpected issue, the forecast construction budget could be dealt a hard blow. A whole house remodel is a daunting task and costs may be difficult to accurately pin down in advance.

The recent popularity of home renovation shows on television has prompted homeowners to look at their own property and assess its potential for upgrading and modernizing. The question needs to be posed whether or not a house remodel is the same process as a home renovation. There is, in fact, a fundamental difference. With a renovation, you are adding something new to the existing property. While with a remodel, the property is undergoing a structural change.

When you renovate a property, it may just be a cosmetic improvement to modernize the home. It typically includes repairs, repainting, updating old fixtures and light fittings and perhaps updating cabinetry like your kitchen or bathrooms. It may also involve updating services like plumbing and electrical for better energy and consumption efficiencies. Remodeling, on the other hand, normally involves structural reorganization of the floor plan layout and alterations to load-bearing elements. While renovating can be a do-it-yourself project that can be completed at a more leisurely pace, remodeling will require a building contractor, plans, and building permits, which is altogether more costly than a mere cosmetic overhaul.

Remodeling Projects Need Comprehensive Budgeting

The very nature of remodeling an existing building throws up the possibility of unforeseen obstacles suddenly arising. The homeowner can arm themselves with as much knowledge and sound planning as they can to formulate their budget before commencing a big project like a whole house remodel. The first check is zoning regulations and local area restrictions set by your local authority. This will reveal to what extent your plans will be permitted. As well as what type of remodeling you can undertake. Also, find out if any property covenants might impact your project.

It is very important to take on a remodeling project fully informed and financially well prepared, with a healthy blow-out contingency. Upfront costs you may have to factor into your budget before remodeling can even commence can include any of the following:

  • Town planning report
  • Land surveyor report
  • DA approval fees
  • Insurances
  • Geotechnical engineering report
  • Structural engineering report
  • Council inspections
  • Building certifier
  • Accommodation and storage

You can be assured that reports and certification can run into the thousands of dollars each and must be performed if included in the terms of the Development Approval (DA). Some homeowners also overlook the inclusion of accommodation costs for their families while construction is underway. And for a whole house remodeling, this will be the wise option. You will also need to budget for a removalist to clear out your belongings, furniture and household effects. This will incur the cost of temporary storage and another removalist to return everything once the project is finished.

Unexpected Surprises Can Derail Your Budget

Once you have all your reports and gain the necessary approvals you can proceed with finalizing your planning and budgeting. Call for quotes and source the best priced materials and inclusions so you can fine-tune your budget and schedule deliveries to avoid delays. However, the inevitable surprise blow-outs can come before you even commence the work. These can include discovering the necessity for costly setbacks like:

  • Footpath deposits
  • Traffic redirection fees
  • Work zone establishment
  • Initial and final dilapidation reports
  • Long service levy
  • Asbestos removal

Your project may require a work zone outside of your property boundaries due to space constraints. This may entail a deposit with the council for the footpath. Refundable at the end of the project if there is no damage to public amenity arising from the construction work. The same applies to a work zone that may require sectioning off some public footpath or road curbside areas for construction vehicles, delivery vehicles, a skip bin, and the temporary offloading of building materials. The discovery of asbestos in your home can trigger an urgent and expensive process to have the material professionally removed and disposed of.

Unexpected Costs During Remodeling

Once your project gets underway, despite careful planning and budgeting, obstacles can suddenly make an appearance. It is only when the builder starts taking up the floorboards, removing cabinets or pulling off the drywall to expose the framing that you could possibly discover the extent of rising damp or termite damage that may have gone unnoticed. Worst-case scenarios can reveal that the whole house needs restumping, has termites, needs reroofing or has substandard plumbing or electrical wiring. Older properties are more likely to harbor rising damp which can be quite serious and requires rectification. Any one of these nasty surprises can explode your budget and cause unwanted delays.

Renovators can also fail to allow for funding incidentals in their budget. With your remodeled home, you will need to match floorcoverings, light fittings and window coverings throughout the new interior. There is the cost of hiring a truck for rubbish removal and the council tip fees and a deep clean may be necessary to rid your newly remodeled home of dust and construction grime. Especially if demolition has been performed. Furthermore, your front and back yard may now look like a construction site. So, you could be up for the cost of fresh landscaping. It’s no good having a lovely, new expanded interior in the latest trendy décor when outside looks like a war zone. In comparison to some of the bigger cost blow-outs that could crop up, these incidentals may seem like minor considerations, but they can add up and severely strain your budget.