If you wish you had more room in your home, a better kitchen or an extra bathroom for the kids, you don’t have to move. A home remodel may be the answer to how you get what you really want in a home without uprooting your family or packing up your stuff.
When you transform your abode instead of selling, you get to avoid paying fees, like those for movers, a Realtor, closing costs on a new mortgage and other surprise expenses that inevitably crop up when you move.
Still, remodeling can go from cost-effective to cost-prohibitive if you don’t watch out for the hidden expenses that come with extensive home renovations. We reached out to some experts to find out the most common hidden remodeling expenses people uncover, and how to avoid them. Here’s what they said.
1. Water damage
Gideon Lipnickas, owner of design and build company New Concept 180 in Chicago, said your house may be keeping faulty plumbing or leaks a secret. You don’t always find water damage until you open up walls to begin your remodeling project. Review your water bill on a regular basis for any signs of increased charges, which could point to a leak.
Speaking of water damage, one of the biggest problems it causes is mold — and discovering black mold can certainly put a halt on a project. According to Miljana Popovic, social media manager of Mold Busters, one way to prepare for (and prevent) this is to hire a trained mold inspector to assess the areas you're renovating ahead of time.
"Utilizing various diagnostic tools like an infrared camera, they will be able to see hidden issues that can cost you down the line," Popovic said.
3. The full list of items
John Bodrozic, co-founder of digital home management site HomeZada, said too many people dive into a home remodeling project without taking the time to budget for the full list of expenses they’ll face.
"A kitchen remodel is a great example because homeowners may budget for the major items such as cabinets, countertops and appliances," Bodrozic said. "But they forget to budget for the garbage disposal, the backsplash tile, the light fixtures and the fume hood. The incomplete list leads to more costs than they originally expected."
4. Demolition costs
"People tend to budget for all the new things they want, but there is a large hidden cost on the labor to demo the existing materials, and the costs to properly remove the materials to a landfill," Bodrozic said.
Make sure to budget for demolition unless you plan to do it all yourself. And even then, you may need to pay for a dumpster or additional disposal costs.
5. Pricier homeowners insurance
Many people are under-insured after large renovations because the dwelling coverage on their home insurance policy is not updated. While remodeling your home can be cost-effective, make sure to update your homeowners insurance policy once the project is complete. It's easy to comparison shop for homeowners insurance right here on Policygenius.
6. Incorrect contractor estimates
Occasionally, contractors don't estimate costs correctly. To avoid this, make sure you compare bids from several contractors and are getting detailed outlines of costs. And remember, "don’t just choose the cheapest contractor," Lucas Machado, president of House Heroes, said. "You get what you pay for" and you also may end up paying more for items they left off or underbid on.
7. Termite damage
Melanie Davison, General Manager of Masters Touch Pest Solutions, said it is not uncommon to discover evidence of past termite damage in the structure of your home.
"Wood destroying insects can move through the foundation of your home, hollowing out any building materials made from cellulose," Davison said. "That includes wood, as well as paper and some insulation materials."
You can't really prevent damage once it's happened, but it's a good practice to check for these pests on a regular basis (either you or an exterminator can do this).
Permits may be required for certain remodeling projects, and they aren’t free. They vary in price based on job size and location, but you don't want to skip them.
"If you try to skip getting permits and then try to sell, the town could require you to remove your work and start over,” Realtor Kris Lippi, of Get LISTED Realty, said. “This of course can cost a homeowner thousands of dollars."