Why Home Remodeling Always Costs More and Takes Longer Than Expected

Dark kitchen drawers

Home remodeling projects are exciting for homeowners ready for a new look and feel to their living spaces. It’s a time for dreaming up new designs for a more comfortable, livable and beautiful home. You’ll have a budget in mind as you navigate the costs associated with the various items that will be part of your new space, but unfortunately, home remodeling costs almost always go over budget and the process usually takes longer than expected. Let’s dig in to how this happens.

Renovation surprises that could blow your budget

Some of the most common budget-busters include such items as a new roof, new plumbing system or a completely new electrical wiring throughout the home.

For example, a roof can be expected to last between 10 and 25 years under normal circumstances, but if you get caught in a massive storm with flying debris, the life of your roof can be significantly impacted.

Most contractors will recommend older electrical systems, many of which are comprised of knob and tube systems or contain aluminum wiring, be completely replaced. Aluminum cracks over time, which create a fire hazard. The knob and tube systems were installed when Americans consumed much less electricity, and they weren’t made for today’s modern appliances. For this reason, it’s often replaced with modern electrical systems and can lead to unexpected costs.

Plumbing is another high-cost item that can blow your budget. Whether it’s a bathroom or kitchen remodel, once you begin to dismantle the infrastructure, you’ll see plumbing that must be replaced to fit your new sink, tub, washer, etc. Perhaps you’ve got old cast iron pipes that are corroded and need to be replaced down to the basement level – this will not be an inexpensive process.

Why your renovation will cost more

More often than not, the source of your cost overruns will come from your contractor. Remember, if you’ve bid out your project, contractors want to get work, so they’ll underbid, knowing that they’ll have contingencies later that jack up the price.

Once you’ve signed the contract, you’ve essentially become hostage to the whims of the contractor. For example, let’s say a permit needs to be pulled, and you know the fee is $200 for the permit. Yet, the contractor comes back with a $400 charge, which accounts for the time they spent to get the permit.

Contractors know that homeowners don’t fully understand everything that goes into a home remodeling project, and they are not afraid to bring up complex issues that will add to the cost of the project. Often, it’s sold as an “unforeseen” incident that must be attended to, making it a “no-brainer” for the homeowner to comply. It’s for reasons like this that you have to do you due diligence and ask for references. Make sure previous clients weren’t bilked out of money with these “necessary and unforeseen fixes” that should have been included in the original bid.

The top seven unexpected renovations costs

Not everything will go as planned. In some cases, accidents occur that can set back a home remodeling project. We can almost always assume that we’ll see extras in labor costs. The cost of removing debris is another often overage that can be expected, but what about those other unexpected costs?

Water Damage

If a problem is hidden, you won’t know what to expect until it’s uncovered, and that’s the case with water damage. Ripping out walls and floors can reveal some ugly truths, such as previous water damage that has compromised the structures surrounding it. Replacing these structures, such as beams in the walls and floors, can get pricey.

Pest Damage

Again, you’ve opened up the walls and/or floors and you uncover something unexpected – a family of mice or rats has made a home in your hidden areas, causing damage and debris that has to be cleaned. More often, termite damage is revealed, which can lead to extensive repairs.

Code Violations

No self-respecting home remodeling contractor is going to let a code violation go unfixed, nor will a city inspector. If you’ve got code issues with your electrical wiring or plumbing, it needs to be addressed. Many homeowners are surprised by the discovery of asbestos, which has to be expertly removed.

A Change in Plans

As your project is underway, you might see something, perhaps an opportunity to make improvements on your original plan. If your contractor has already ordered work that you want to change, you’ll have to pay for it if it’s already been done.

Permit Fees

Be sure to investigate with your municipality about permit fees, because extensive projects can require numerous permits, which build up and can become a burden, though necessary. When you plan wisely, you can take into account the cost of these fees and offset them with choosing more affordable hardware, fixtures, etc.

Pet Boarding

Many home remodeling projects are not pet friendly. The noise can be stressful for them. The dust and debris can be dangerous to them. It’s best to board them while the project is underway, but that will add to your overall costs.

Restaurant Necessities

While you’re busy designing that new kitchen and picking out cabinets and fixtures, you might forget that while your kitchen is being remodeled, you’re going to have to eat out, which can get quite expensive, especially when your normal budget calls for eating out once a week.

Why your renovation will take longer than expected

Did you know building permits take around a month to obtain following your design phase? Not knowing this in advance can be a massive shock to homeowners with expectations about when the project will be completed. The materials you choose also have an impact on your timeline, because if they’re specialty items, you’re going to encounter long lead times. For example, if you’re having your cabinets custom made, you’re likely not going to have them on site for up to four months, depending on the carpenter.

You never fully know what you’re going to discover once you begin taking down the old to replace with the new. As we mentioned earlier, tearing down walls and opening up floors can reveal messes that have to be dealt with, and this can cause some extensive delays.

Homeowners fall victim to optimism, meaning they think everything will go as planned and they won’t encounter any issues, whether it’s supply shortages, code violations, water damage, pest infestation or anything else that can get in the way of a carefully planned remodel. When most people plan, they account for the typical things, but don’t consider the compound probabilities that can impact a timeline.

How to avoid unexpected expenses during your renovation

The first step in avoiding unexpected expenses during your renovation is to do plenty of research. This includes everything from pricing materials and making sure they’re available to fit your timeline to talking to friends and neighbors about contractors they’ve worked with. It’s during the research part of your planning that you should consult with interior designers, architects and preferred contractors about the smallest, most minute details of your renovation to the largest, most obvious details.

After you’ve developed a comprehensive overview of your project, you can begin planning. You can start determining what each phase of the project will look like, when materials need to be delivered and what permits will be required. Essentially, planning is a major component of project management. You’ll develop a detailed list of your expenses and ensure that you have all of your wants and needs included in the renovation.

Now you can start honing in your costs involved in the project. If you’ve got room to breathe, consider saving for contingencies, such as water damage or pest control. If you’ve gone over your budget, think about where you’ve chosen higher-priced materials and if you can switch out for less expensive materials. Make sure you have some wiggle room for the unexpected.

Finally, when the project is underway, oversee the work. Make sure you’ve developed an excellent line of communication with the point people on your contractor’s team and keep tabs on how they’re doing with the timeline and that each phase is on schedule. Holding everyone accountable is a great way to ensure your project is delivered on time and on budget.

Keep your home renovation budget under control with a design-build contractor

You’ve got options in how you tackle your project, but time and again, choosing a design-build contractor has proven to be the top choice. A design-build team includes professionals who will be able to handle every aspect of your project. From the design and planning phase through construction, every member is working for the same contractor, which means communication between designers, architects, electricians, plumbers and carpenters is seamless.

At New Concept 180, we’re a design-build operation with many, many references that prove our commitment to customer service is without question. We know that placing trust in the contractor is one of the biggest leaps of faith a homeowner can take, and our track record proves that we never surprise clients with any hidden costs or take advantage of their inexperience in home renovation. New Concept 180 is a transparent organization that puts the needs of the customer first, so contact us at (847) 565-1060 or and let’s discuss your project.

Most popular blog posts

03 04 2019

Split-level House Remodel: Additions and Renovation Options

12 04 2019

Exploring the Benefits of Building a Guest House

10 14 2019

Top 10 Reasons to Build a Home Addition Instead of Moving: Building Up Vs. Building Out

02 06 2018

Top 10 Trends for New Home Construction and Renovations in 2018 and Beyond

03 03 2017

Top 10 Most Important Things your Home Should Have

Latest blog posts

03 16 2023

Renovating with Little Ones: How to Tackle a Home Remodeling Project While Keeping Your Sanity

02 02 2023

Where to Start: A Guide to Choosing the Best Area of Your Home for Renovation

01 12 2023

Expecting the Unexpected: Common Unforeseen Home Remodeling Setbacks and How to Prepare for Them

12 15 2022

How to Decide When to Remodel Your Home: Factors to Consider

11 10 2022

Home Remodeling and Pets: Tips to Ensure Their Safety and Comfort

Remodeling Cost Guide

Your budget dictates the scope of your remodel and what it can be accomplished for your home. With that in mind, we have put together a Home Remodeling Cost Guide for you to download for free. This guide covers costs from midrange to upscale remodels. With this guide you are able to get a more accurate picture of what you might need to budget for your next project.