Beware the hidden costs of renovation

Making sure there’s a budget to cover the costs when you undertake home renovations is of course essential, but you also need to be wary of the hidden costs that could make you spend more than you bargained for.


“Often home-improvement enthusiasts don’t build in a big enough contingency for the unexpected costs that always arise during the course of remodelling. In fact most people have a tendency to underestimate their renovation costs,” says Dr Piet Botha, chairman of the Nationlink estate agency group.  


When it comes to hidden costs it’s worth remembering, for example, that the contractor’s quote on a renovation job is at best an estimate. Unexpected work to repair or replace outdated plumbing and electrical wiring, for example, can hold up your renovation plans and mean hefty additional labour and equipment costs.


Any rise in material costs in the course of a contract can also impact on an estimate. ”Material prices may increase between the time you receive a quote and the day renovation work actually begins, which could be three to six months down the line,” says Botha.


Indeed, he says, eager home renovators would be well advised to add 30% to their original budget to cope with such unexpected costs.


Meanwhile if you opt for the do-it-yourself renovation be sure to apply for the correct municipal permits or approvals to carry out any alteration involving an addition or structural change to the home.


Failure to do so can result in a fine and/or an order to demolish your renovation at your cost.  Permit fees depend on the size and nature of the renovation and can be based on the estimated cost of the job.


Your DIY budget should also make allowance for the extra cost of materials you may have initially forgotten, tools that could save on time and labour, and repair of any unexpected damage. 


When embarking on any home improvement projects, be sure to do your homework so as to avoid those hidden costs. “At the end of the day your renovated home is about personal satisfaction and benefit and shouldn’t become a financial burden to you,” says Botha.

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