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The Hidden Costs of Your Next Renovation

Renovating your home is a costly business, but its final price tag may be more than you anticipated. Hidden costs lurk in every project. Here’s a quick guide to some of them. 

Unexpected Complications

Plan all you want, you can’t always accurately predict what will greet you behind shower walls, beneath old carpets, or under previous patch jobs. Ripping these out may reveal black mold, water damage, and other structural problems you can’t ignore.

While there’s no guarantee your reno will always run into these problems, there’s a big chance it will. In fact, it’s so common that most reno experts suggest you add an extra 25 percent of your budget to your plans just in case something goes wrong.

Without this cushion, you may have to dip into a line of credit or take out an installment loan to address these unexpected emergencies. 

Time off Work

Whether you’re DIY-ing or hiring a professional, you may have to take some time off to complete or oversee the work. 

An afternoon here or there may not seem like much, but it can add up to pack a punch if you have a tight budget. Big projects, on the other hand, may require you to take several days off at a time. 

If possible, use vacation days to supplement these days away from your desk. But what can you do if you don’t have paid vacation? 

A proactive approach is your best policy. Put your plans on hold and figure out how to save up money to off-set what you lose during the renovations. Besides tweaking your budget, you may need to earn some extra money with a side gig or part-time job. 


When you’re excited to take a crack at a project on your own, you don’t want to dwell on how it can all go wrong. But this is a helpful exercise. By running through the possible worst-case scenarios, you’ll know what to do if they happen.

One of the most common complications in a DIY project is injury. Accidents happen. A slip of the handsaw or stepping on a rusty nail could necessitate a quick visit to the ER.

When your health is on the line, you don’t have time to deliberate over how you’ll pay for your medical bills. If you don’t save enough of a cushion for this unexpected expense, an emergency installment loan or line of credit could help you.


While you can get away with laying tile or installing new cabinetry without a permit, you can’t say the same for major renovations.

Tearing your home down to the studs? You need a permit for that. Demolishing a garage? Another permit. Adding an addition? You guessed it, you’ll need to apply for a permit. You may even need a permit if you intend to rehab your old wiring, upgrade your HVAC system, or repair structural work. 

Generally speaking, you’ll be able to file this paperwork at city hall. It could cost you hundreds of dollars depending on what permit you need and where you live.

Thinking of skipping it to save cash? There could be a hefty fine in your future if you get caught, and even if you get off scot-free, an illegal renovation may complicate insurance claims.

The Takeaway

Be cautious; it’s better to overestimate your reno’s cost than the opposite. Plan ahead and pad out your budget. This way, you’ll be in a better spot in case something does go wrong.