What really drives the cost of home improvement?
Home renovation is exciting. It can completely change the look of a home and give a fresh-face to a tired living space. Any work performed on a home, when done correctly, is multifaceted and involves an in-depth knowledge of the building process and products available to achieve the desired result.
We specialize in making dream homes a reality, but many times those dreams don’t always take budget into account. Dreams are free (and fun), but reality can be much different. Itis important to keep the following cost drivers in mind when you start planning your next home improvement project. Skipping or skimping on steps is guaranteed to produce a compromised result, leaving you, the homeowner, less than thrilled.
Design and Planning
The complexity of design and what you are trying to do to your house greatly affects the cost of construction. What is your home like?
- Typical old home?
- Traditional design?
- Wavy floors?
- Recovering from a couple bad remodels?
Are you looking to completely change styles from traditional to a more modernhome with sleek lines and no trim? Giving this house the perfect modern look is a much taller order than updating it in a more traditional style. Can it still happen? Absolutely, but the process just requires a whole lot more work and money.
Regulations and Codes
Municipal Regulations: Municipal regulations can be a hidden, unexpected cost. If your existing home does not meet code, some towns might require that those code deficiencies be corrected during construction, or even before construction begins.
For example, consider someone who might be finishing their basement and currently that basement has no means emergency escape. In this instance, an egress window would be a required addition by the city building department during their renovation. Additionally, they would also be required to add interconnected smoke detectors throughout the home, bringing it up to modern code.
Energy & Building Codes: Energy and building codes are revised regularly, every few years, and seem to become more stringent each time. Generally, when building an addition, you are not required to bring your entire home up to code; however, the new construction generally has to meet the newest codes for energy efficiency.
Permits: Before starting, building permits must be secured. Many times, our clients are surprised to learn that permits can be costly. Permits aren’t cheap and can easily cost thousands (or tens of thousands of dollars), depending on the size and scope of your project. It’s definitely something to consider when planning your budget.
Review Boards/Zoning Issues/Special Requirements: Also, if you live in a community with an architectural review board, have a zoning issue that requires a variance, or your town has special requirements for the types of building materials used, these can all add cost. Additionally, some towns require review of your plans if your home is considered to be historically significant.
Materials Selected and Used
This is an often-misunderstood home improvement element. The materials you choose to remodel your home with have a huge impact on cost, both in terms of material pricing as well as the labor to install.
We all know granite countertops cost more than laminate, and stone costs much more than vinyl. But another factor to consider is that expensive materials are generally more difficult to install and, depending on the material, can require additional labor or on occasion, a specialist. Also, additional prep materials might be needed in order to install your upgraded choice in material, etc. This can drive up cost, fast.
When choosing the materials you want for your home, it’s important to balance what makes you happy and what you are willing to spend. Many times, it’s not just the cost of the upgraded product, it’s the additional time, labor and special skills that may be required to get the job done- the right way the first time.
The existing condition of the house is the biggest driver in determining how much a home improvement will be.
Want to move the shower in your first floor bathroom, but your house is on a slab foundation? We’re going to need jackhammers.
You want a nice new tile floor with large tiles, but your old home has wavy, uneven floors? It can be done, but requires the floor to be leveled prior to installation – or say hello to cracked tiles in about 3 months.
Adding bathrooms to the second story? The size and condition of the water lines coming in to your home and, whether or not you have a septic system, must come into consideration. Your current setup might not even have the capacity for an extra bath.
Additionally, there are the hidden things that can (and often do) pop up during construction. You might open a wall and discovering an unexpected pipe or duct that needs to be moved. Perhaps a beam that was cut and hidden during a previous remodel needs to be addressed. What’s hidden behind the walls can be scary. Not to say that you will run into this, but it’s something to have in the back of your mind. It does happen and can cause an additional expense.
Plan Ahead and Know Your Options
What’s great about remodeling and renovation is that you can go at your own pace, and as your budget allows. Work can be done in phases or you can prioritize what renovations are most important to you now. Many times preparation can redefine your vision, giving you a whole new perspective or a clearer picture of what you want. What’s most important is having a finished home that you’re happy to live in.
The factors outlined above can give you the tools you need to help prepare a well thought out budget, so as you start to plan your remodeling project and keep costs in line.