You walk into a home that potentially has the perfect layout, although the kitchen is dated, the floors need upgrading, the bathrooms are awkward … but the price is right and you’ve always wanted to customize a home … so you buy it with renovation in mind. How hard could it be? After all, those television shows remodel an entire home over the course of a weekend. You can live in the mess for a couple weeks, right?
Adjust your timeline
If you’ve never lived through a renovation, you’ll be tempted to underestimate how long it will take. It is a mistake to think of renovation time in terms of how much labor you think it requires. For many projects, labor time is the least amount of time spent on the project.
That’s right, a large number of projects require far more non-physical-labor time than the actual construction work. There are approvals, plans, permits, shipping time for materials, weather delays, insurance certificates and myriad other preparations required far in advance of taking a hammer to the wall.
Once you have all your plans and approvals in place, the next potential delay may come sooner than you think. Especially in kitchen and bath renovations, the possibility that plumbing or mold problems may upset your timeline increases. No matter how old the home, broken pipes or seepage can cause massive problems that lay hidden behind the walls, fixtures and cabinets. Once you’ve opened them up, they must be repaired. Older homes may need new wiring and other electrical upgrades to bring the renovations up to code.
Don’t skimp on these areas just to hurry up the process. When the inspector reviews the work, you may end up with more delays having work torn out and redone to meet code. If your home’s renovations do not meet code requirements, you will find it difficult to sell your home later.
Depending on the age of your home, your renovations may expose lead or asbestos. The cleanup for either requires special certification in asbestos abatement and lead paint removal. Disposal requirements for either element may increase your bottom line as well, so plan for that contingency.
Stay or go
Homeowners sometimes fail to fully consider the ramifications of not having a bathroom or kitchen for weeks at a time. No only does it affect everyday life, it can pose a danger for children and pets. Not only can exposed asbestos or lead cause illness, but displaced tools, nails and other sharp objects may injure unsuspecting family members. During construction, expect a considerable amount of dust and debris. Clothing, dishware and other personal items may collect drywall dust. Breathing in dust, mold, and other detritus from construction can trigger respiratory illnesses. You may need to plan for temporary shelter to keep family life running smoothly.
Hidden costs and other options
All of these delays can affect your bottom line. In fact, underestimating and not planning for contingencies can derail your renovation before it’s completed. In fact, underestimating construction costs is such a common problem that many contractors routinely factor in an additional 20% to 30% to protect their ability to realize a profit. If you’re doing the work yourself, these additional costs and delays can strain both your bank account and your patience.
If we know what you want, we may be able to find a home where someone else has done the renovating, or we can suggest contractors that will be helpful in working your way through potential upgrades and renovations before you move in.