Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Hidden Home Improvement Disasters That Can Wreck Your Budget

If there’s one common theme running throughout every home improvement project, it’s this: unforeseen changes and their (possibly hefty) expenses will happen. Here are some home improvement surprises you should beef up your budget for.

Problems Hiding in Walls and Floors

The most common and biggest unforeseen expenses tend to involve the home’s electrical and plumbing systems. Fixing or upgrading these requires opening up (and repairing) walls, floors, and ceilings, possibly across great distances, not to mention fixing the problems themselves. Also possibly hiding within those walls and floors: mold, termites, and other pests or issues. These all typically require the work of experts.

When you dig into a wall or floor, you just don’t know what you’re going to find there. It can reveal previous work on the home that is not up to code, such as exposed electrical wires, or just point out all the outdated features that need replacing, such as old pipes just days away from corroding. Even straightforward wall removal projects can require lots of work, from rerouting electrical wires and pipes to putting in new supports for a load-bearing wall (see below).

For example, in what was supposed to be a pretty straightforward bathroom remodel in my home, contractors found out the bathroom drain was apparently in the wrong place (or the tub was oriented incorrectly for the drain), so that was an additional $2,000 for the project. There was mold hiding behind drywall, which cost another $3,000 to eliminate.

Also, don’t compound previous poorly done home improvements with your own DIY versions if you don’t have the skills. And vet your contractor thoroughly to make sure you won’t run into similar problems.

Although many of these home improvement surprises can’t be avoided, if you catch them early, you can get on with the work and hopefully keep your remodel on budget.

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