January 28th, 2017 8:33 AM by Jackie A. Graves, President
Some expenses are just
hard to anticipate. Here are a few that might surprise you.
You knew this renovation would
be expensive. But you were smart. You accounted for everything in
Or, you thought you did.
Two weeks into your kitchen makeover, your
wallet is weeping. Your Goldendoodle Sadie freaked out over the noise and
needed doggie daycare. Your lawn is a disaster zone. And who knew one family
could spend so much money eating out?
Surprises happen. Shelling out cash on
unexpected renovation costs isn’t completely avoidable — but there are plenty
of hidden renovation costs you can prepare for. Here are some of the surprising
things that can set your wallet on fire during your next big project.
#1 Extra Muscle: $500
Even if you’re just clearing out the
renovation space by moving boxes downstairs, you still might find yourself in
need of a few strong hands.
“For the longest time, we thought we could
clear out the space ourselves,” says Summer Sterling, who renovated her home’s
entire top floor, including gutting the kitchen, updating two bathrooms, and
vaulting a ceiling. She and her husband lived in the basement during the
remodel. “Then we realized we have this gigantic furniture.”
The Sterlings moved as much as they could
beforehand, but the movers still cost about $500.
#2 Anxious Pups: $125
Some pets have nerves
of steel. Others cower at any unexpected noise or strangers. And construction
zones are full of noisy strangers: dropping wrenches,
hammering, or stomping through your home in metal-toed boots.
Monitor your dog to see how he handles the stress.
If the answer is “not well,” prepare for a brief boarding — although you might
find a mid-day dog walker or a short stay with Nana is soothing enough (and far
Sterling and her husband adopted a new dog
shortly before the remodel. “It was tough on our little guy,” she says. “He
likes to sleep all the time.”
Their two pups doubled
their time in doggie daycare — stressful for the dogs and the
budget. But planning your work during your sitter’s down season can save you
#3 Dinners Out: $80
Cooking without a
kitchen challenges the best chefs — there’s a reason it’s a stalwart Top
Chef challenge. Even if your kitchen remains intact during the reno,
putting together a meal in a home filled with dust is no fun at all.
Sterling and her husband ate out or ordered
take-out “at least three or four times a week,” she says.
Instead of single-handedly funding your
favorite restaurant’s expansion, she recommends storing pre-prepped,
microwaveable meals in a chest freezer. Or setting up a makeshift
#4 Dumpster Fees: $400
Construction junk has to go somewhere. If
you’re DIYing the remodel, dumpster fees might come as a surprise.
Expect to spend about $400 on your
trash-mobile, but contractors can provide localized, ballpark dumpster
Once it’s in your
driveway, save some extra cash by using the dumpster to ditch unwanted stuff
accumulating around your house. Tired of those nasty old blinds? Say adieu,
without paying extra disposal fees. Just leave room for the construction junk.
#5 Hotel Stays: $500
You’re determined to
live at home during the reno, but if a contractor accidentally smashes through
your bedroom wall or the noise gets too unbearable, you might
find yourself packing up for a short stay in a nearby hotel.
You don’t need to book your staycation
beforehand, but budgeting enough cash for a few days’ away will make the
decision to abandon ship a bit less stressful. Or hole up with some friends —
just make sure to bring wine and cover dinner as payment.
#6 Childcare: $175 Per
Checking your calendar, you realize demo day
coincides with school inservice. You can’t have the adorable little rascals
stomping through the dust — so off to the sitters they go. Great. Another $100
down the drain.
Keep a close eye on the calendar and
pre-arrange playdates for their days off to keep your wallet in check. Or bring
over Aunt Margie to keep the kids corralled (and entertained) in a spare
#7 Labor Costs: $50
Delays, schedule changes, and unexpected
surprises don’t just add time to the renovation — they mean paying more to the
“Our labor costs wound up being much higher,”
says Janet Heller, whose sink broke during a bathroom renovation — requiring
multiple trips and two times the work from contractors and laborers.
Know each contractor’s hourly cost so when
disaster strikes, you can budget appropriately.
Your new kitchen
features sparkling, brand-new marble and stunning oak cabinetry — but you can’t
ignore the fine layer of sawdust covering everything.
“Construction dust is everywhere,” Sterling
says. Allocate a few days for a top-to-bottom clean. Scrubbing everything
yourself can save you some much-needed cash.
But if the mess is too
daunting, consider hiring a service as a post-renovation treat. Even if they’re
just handling the hard-to-reach spots, a little help will be more than welcome.
Now all you have to do is go home, kick back, and heat up your
very last frozen dinner.
#9 Office Space: $195
Telecommuters have their own renovation challenges.
How can you take a phone call with clients when a drill is whirring overhead?
“I work from home, but am unable to function
with so much construction noise above me,” Sterling says. “There’s no privacy
whatsoever.” But privacy doesn’t come cheap: A “flexible desk” at a co-working
space can cost $195 per month — and more if you need a closed door.
Sterling leased a temporary office twice per
week during the renovation and lowered costs by working out of coffee shops or
a library as often as possible.
#10 Higher Utility
Bills: 15%-20% Extra
Doors opening. Fans
whirring. So many power tools. Is there anything in construction that doesn’t suck
“We’re living in a much smaller space, but the
efficiency is terrible,” says Sterling, who spent about 15% to 20% more on
electricity during the renovation. “The bloody contractors leave the windows
open all the time.”
Don’t feel bad if you’re a bit of a nag.
Unless the breeze is necessary (drying paint and new hardwood floors require
ventilation), pop upstairs every evening to close the windows.
#11 Lawn Landscaping:
Did they really need
to put their equipment on your beautiful Kentucky bluegrass? For some reason,
renovating the interior can mean your lawn takes a beating that only a
professional landscaper can repair.
Ask contractors beforehand if they plan on
using your yard for staging, and place down tarps to protect the foliage. Or
find alternative spots, like the attached garage or gravel driveway.
#12 Permits: $1,000
Before the first sledgehammer swings, sit down
with your contractor (or city building department) for a detailed discussion of
exactly what permits you need.
“Usually a contractor will include plans and
permits,” Rinek says.
But make sure you know early on if they don’t,
otherwise you’re in for a surprise. Sterling says she paid more than $1,800 in
permit fees — causing major sticker shock, if you’re not expecting the
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