If you’ve ever taken on a considerably large home renovation project, you know that hidden expenses are lurking in every phase of construction, and they add up fast! My wife and I learned this soon after diving into a 100-year-old Nutana character home renovation.

If you’re considering tackling a sizable renovation project, learn from our mistakes and be sure to account for these items in your budget:

1. Your Champagne Tastes – What’s the point of enduring the arduous task of doing a home renovation if the end result doesn’t have some wow factor that you can enjoy for years to come?

Like most brands, there are price tiers to finishing products that correlate with quality and style. You knew you wanted a jet tub with tiled surround when you started the project, and you budgeted for it, but now you’re in the showroom and that new glass mosaic would look pretty snazzy as an accent tile. And wait, that one has six more jets! And wouldn’t deck-mounted faucets look better than wall mounted?

There are also basket items to many finishing products that you might not have accounted for. That natural gas fireplace you budgeted for is absolutely beautiful. Did you realize that the stainless steel faceplate on the show model is a $400 add on?

One finishing product decision can have a domino effect on increasing the price of other items. For instance, you’ve decided to go with oil rubbed bronze light fixtures which are already more expensive than other alternatives. Since the lights are oil rubbed bronze, now your faucets, knobs & cabinet hardware should coordinate. Oh yeah, your toilets can’t be purchased with oil rubbed bronze handles, you’ll have to special order another $60 handle assembly for every toilet you have.

Cha ching, cha ching & one more cha ching for good measure!

Tip: When developing your budget have a realistic understanding about your taste preferences and what tier of product you typically shop in. The fiscally responsible personality that shines during budget time probably won’t make much of an appearance in the showrooms.

2. What You Can’t See – To the best of my knowledge, the construction industry has yet to develop a technology that allows you to see through walls. If the home you’re renovating is quite old, you will be surprised at what lies in the cavities of your homes walls.

Behind the walls and sub-floor of our most recent renovation, we found knob & tube wiring along with the original lead plumbing installed in 1916. Those materials shouldn’t be a surprise if you’re dealing with a 100-year-old home, except for when the previous owner assures you that everything has been updated. There really is no way to verify what you’ve been told, aside from demoing walls and flooring before you purchase. Good luck with that!

We also found lots of horsehair that was used to insulate around windows. There were air gaps from insulation settling, and even exterior walls completely without insulation. To top it off, we found three different types of vermiculite insulation in other areas of the house. After opening up a couple of walls, we decided to play it safe and make the downtown Saskatoon Holiday Inn home until the vermiculite was tested for asbestos. Thankfully, the results were asbestos free!

Tip: There are inherent risks in buying a home that was constructed prior to 1980. Your REALTOR® should be able to advise you on the specific risks related to the Saskatoon homes for sale that you are interested in. Budgeting for the unexpected is difficult. Understand the risks and expect the unexpected. For additional information regarding the risks involved with the age of a home, visit the Canadian Real Estate Association’s Resource section.

Renovation Risk Black Dog Republic

3. Waste Removal – Have you ever moved and had that “do I ever have a crazy amount of stuff” moment halfway through packing? Renovations can produce the same effect. Once you start tearing into things, you won’t believe the amount of trips you’ll be taking to your local landfill. Even when you start putting everything back together, material waste and product packaging produces a lot of garbage, and disposal costs are not cheap!

During the coarse of our renovation, we took about 25 trips to the Saskatoon Land Fill with an average load costing about $125. Let me help you with that math, that’s $3125, which doesn’t include the time or the fuel that it took to get there. For those that want to save time, and don’t mind the extra cost, try using a company like Loraas Disposal. They’ll deliver a waste container and swap it out when it becomes full.

Tip: Ensure that your trades know that it’s their responsibility to cleanup and remove all their waste. The mess they leave behind will cost you both time and money. Assuming that this common courtesy doesn’t need to be communicated will have you taking extra trips to the landfill more often than not.

As always, we encourage copious amounts of discussion here! If this blog post provided you any value (you smiled, laughed, pondered, were less bored, decided against renovating, were inspired to drive to your local landfill, etc…), please do us a solid and share this post with your comments and opinions!