One of the last things you may want to think about when you’re budgeting your remodeling project is the old adage, “You get what you pay for.” Most of us would agree that it’s true—but that doesn’t make it any easier to avoid the temptation of the contractor with the lowest bid. As anyone who’s ever managed a remodeling project from start to finish, it can quickly become apparent that the lowest bid is often far from the best.
We’d like to take a couple of minutes to lay out some of the unforeseen extras you should plan for when it comes to your next remodeling project. These are the things worth budgeting for and are part of your critical role as an informed buyer. While you may get a full list of expected costs, make sure you know the unexpected costs, too, as they’re most often the cause of headache and heartbreak when it comes to a remodeling job.
Take Time to Review the Contract—In Full
We’re going to skip ahead to the contract signing, the time when it’s your turn to sign on the dotted line. This should take place after all details of the job are discussed with the contractor, and it’s your opportunity to make sure that all those details have made their way into the contract. That said, having everything laid out in the contract does not guarantee an absence of unforeseen costs.
For example, your contractor doesn’t yet know what he’ll find when he removes a wall. Will a critical but unexpected plumbing pipe block its demolition? Will all the electrical wiring need to be replaced in order to be made up-to-date with code?
These same challenges can appear when you’re pulling up your worn hardwoods or bathroom floor. Tiny leaks in windows or doors, in some cases, may have accumulated water under the floor for years—leaving you with larger replacement costs for your rotten sub-floor. A new sub-floor—which can also be the product of a house that has settled and, in turn, cracked the sub-floor—adds labor and materials to your overall costs. These costs cannot be predicted or included in your initial contract.
Expect the On-Site Changes that Are Bound to Occur
Not all “extras” are related to unforeseen challenges. In other cases, on-site interior design changes may result in additional costs. For instance, if you purchase a light fixture from a local home improvement retailer, rather than a professional lighting dealer, your contractor may refuse to install it and instead require that you hire an outside electrician to do the job. Why? Because the contractor wants to avoid any potential liability caused by products purchased outside his standard operation.
At the end of the day, most homeowners should budget about 10 to 15 percent on top of quoted costs to cover extras. Surprises during renovations may never be fun but, if you’re mentally and financially prepared for them, they can cause a whole lot less pain.
Debbe Daley is the designer of choice for residential and commercial interior design in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and coastal Maine. Learn more about Debbe in the following, The Huffington Post, The Lowell Sun and WCAP - 980 AM Lowell, MA.