Watch a few remodeling shows, and the idea of buying a fixer-upper suddenly seems like a great do-it-yourself project — you gain equity, get to customize everything to your tastes and, if everything goes well, wind up saving a chunk of money in the process.
What could be better? Before you jump into the world of home renovations, do you truly have the budget you need to do it right? Like it or not, there are usually unexpected expenses in every remodeling project, even when you do a lot yourself and try to plan for everything. Whether you’re buying a property to remodel or looking to upgrade your current space, it’s important to keep in mind what costs can easily add up:
- Calling the Professionals: Sure, even the least handy homeowners can buy paint and start rolling, but when it comes to bigger projects like knocking down walls or replacing kitchen countertops, most people will need to hire a professional. Before you leap headfirst into a costly remodel, get quotes from various contractors to learn what it realistically costs to get the job done. “An important step to take when moving from the remodeling fantasy phase to reality is signing a fixed-cost agreement with your contractor,” says Lisa Kaplan Gordon at Houselogic. “The contract should include a detailed scope of work” so that you minimize the amount of miscommunications and extra costs. If, during this estimating process, you find you’re going to have to spend upward of $40,000 to gut and rehab the kitchen, for example, is it truly worth the expense? Will hiring still give you the remodeling savings you’d hoped for? If not, maybe you’re not ready to take the project on.
- Experiencing a Learning Curve: Unless you’re already a professional contractor, you can expect to deal with some kind of learning curve when you’re rehabbing parts of your home yourself. A lot of projects, from tearing down walls to adding an island, are harder than they appear. Maybe you will have no trouble mastering the new toilet installation or tile removal, or maybe it will take several tries and several return trips to the hardware store before you understand what you’re supposed to do. The extra time and products involved in teaching yourself new skills usually are not negligible, so make sure you factor them into your project remodeling costs.
- Dealing with Delays: No matter how well you plan the timeline for your project, you should always expect delays. “Remodeling projects can test patience to extreme levels,” says Brennan Windows. That’s why, “when you set a project timeline, [you should] tack on at least a few weeks to account for any delays from bad weather or product issues.” Unexpected problems with plumbing, your house’s structure, equipment damage, or a host of other things can all delay progress. Likewise, anything that you have to hire someone for, from an order of granite countertops to a plumbing project estimated to take three days, can wind up taking longer than you thought. These delays can up your project expenses, particularly if you’re under any kind of crunch with living arrangements or moving dates.
- Taking on Too Much: Generally speaking, there are some projects that most people can try — painting the walls, sanding cabinets, resurfacing floors — and some that require specialized skill. If you bite off more than you can chew, you can bet you’ll spend more than you bargained for. Whether you have to hire someone to fix your mistakes or just end up paying twice for equipment and supplies, taking on more than you’re qualified to handle usually won’t save you money in the long run.
If, after considering the unexpected expenses of a home remodeling project, you still want to take it on, there is good news for you: “research shows that kitchen remodeling can increase the value of your home by 10 to 15 percent,” according to Kendra Y. Mims at SheKnows Media, “and remodeling other rooms can also increase home value.” In other words, there’s a lot of potential gain from a remodeling project that goes right.
In order to make the most of your efforts, always weigh the investment against the potential increase in value. If you know remodeling the kitchen can boost your home value by $20,000, for example, spending less than that to remodel — whether on your own or with professionals — is a much easier choice to make. Though whatever you decide, go into the project with a cushion in your budget and your timeline, flexibility and an open mind.
Mike Dulla is the president and founder of United Home Loans, which was founded in 2002. United Home Loans has been in business since 2002 and has closed over 10,000 loans with over $2.5 billion in total closed loan volume. Learn more about United Home Loans at http://www.uhloans.com.