Today, we want to take a look at home renovation projects. This is different from a custom build, so we want to go over problems specifically related to these types of projects that we see on projects both small and large. It could be adding an addition to your existing home or a renovation of a property you just purchased.
One thing we have seen over the years is that even after everything is drawn up, unforeseen conditions pop up that create significant problems for the project. These problems can also lead to challenges between the contractors and building project manager and homeowner.
If you read our tips on developing a construction budget, you already know that we recommend setting up a contingency fund when building a new home. That same premise holds true on a renovation project, as there can be challenges along the way that add significant costs to the project. If your budget only contains the costs for the renovation, you may find yourself putting the entire project on hold when an unforeseen condition surfaces.
Common Unforeseen Conditions
My father used to say, you never truly know what you have until you open the walls and take a look inside. What happens if you are planning a room renovation and when the walls are opened, you realize the current plumbing or electricity is outdated or obsolete, presenting hazards in the future? You had not planned on redoing all that plumbing, but now that the walls are open, there is no way you will get an inspector to sign off on the renovation unless everything is brought up to code.
Rot and Decay
Any type of moisture can wreak havoc on a home, as it finds even the smallest of areas to settle in and work its magic. Over time, this moisture can cause the structure to rot and decay. How many times have we seen stories on the news of a holiday party gone wrong when a deck or patio collapses? If your renovation project exposes rot and decay, get ready to write a significant check to fix the issue.
Plumbing issues are often the root cause when we find rot and decay. There are only so many places where moisture can come from, and bad plumbing is at the top of that list. This is especially a problem in older homes that used plumbing materials no longer used in construction today.
Just like plumbing, unforeseen electrical issues are commonplace in home renovations. One of the scariest phrases a contractor hears is when the homeowner tells him, “I usually do the electrical repairs myself.” I have opened walls and seen hornets nests, wondering how the home had not caught on fire to that point. As noted, once the walls are opened for a permitted project, they are going to have to pass inspection, and that patch job is not going to get approved.
If the home was constructed before 1980, there is a really good chance that asbestos is present. If that is the case, this gets very expensive, as specialty workers are needed for removal.
Building Codes and Previously Defective Work
Building codes are always changing and when you open up your walls, the home, in most cases, is expected to be made up to code. You could also find work that was substandard, just as we mentioned above in the electrical section. Contractors, in good conscience, cannot just ignore these issues once they see them. This is not about gouging a customer for money but rather about ensuring the home is safe to live.