10 Hidden Costs of Remodeling Your Home

Home renovations are usually quite exciting for homeowners. The thought of upgrading your living space for greater functionality and style is something to look forward to, especially if you’ve been saving up for your project for a long time.

As incredible as it feels when demolition day rolls around, there’s also a somewhat chaotic, inconvenient, and expensive aspect to remodeling your home. Even though you’ve set a reasonable project budget, you will undoubtedly incur additional expenses beyond your contractor’s initial bid. 

Here at GreatBuildz, a free service that connects homeowners in Los Angeles, Orange, Ventura and San Diego Counties with reliable general contractors, we speak to homeowners every day about hidden costs to be aware of when considering a remodeling project.

Here are 10 hidden costs associated with home remodeling that you should consider as you launch your renovation project.

1. Permitting and Inspections

Hidden costs of remodeling the home - permitting and inspection

There are few home projects you can get away with not obtaining a permit from your city’s building department. Permits and inspections are essential for ensuring your project meets safety standards and current building codes. 

Even though permits are obtained early in the renovation process before construction begins, homeowners may forget to account for those costs. Typically, you can expect to pay between $750 and $2,000 for an extensive renovation project or addition to your house. 

Avoiding permitting is not recommended, and a reputable contractor will refuse to do a renovation without them. If you decide to sell your home, potential buyers will want to know that your project was permitted. Unpermitted renovations often lead to a hefty fine or, in extreme cases, needing to have the work taken down.

2. Getting Your Home “Up to Code”

Cost of Remodeling - permit up to code

Building codes exist to guarantee your project design protects public health and safety. They also aim to help your home meet today’s sustainability and energy efficiency standards. If you’re looking to remodel an older house, in particular, getting your electrical, plumbing, and foundation up to code could mean additional expenses for you. 

Sometimes these hiccups can set your project timelines back, and while you may question the need for making some of these upgrades, it’s important to trust your contractor. 

Your contractor has the proper training and understanding to handle code compliance. Maintaining a good relationship with your contractor—including transparency and frequent communication—is vital for ensuring your project is completed correctly in a timely and cost-efficient manner.

3. Remediation

Hidden costs of remodeling home contractor

It’s every homeowner’s worst nightmare to learn that their home has significant termite damage or pest infestations. Other problems uncovered during demolition could include asbestos, rotting wood, cracks in the foundation, water damage, or radon.

Lead paint is also commonly found in older homes. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), homes built before 1978 are 24% to 84% more likely to have lead paint on walls, windowsills, and railings. 

Any of these issues can severely affect your budget; however, it is essential to address them before continuing with your project. Termites, wood rot, and water damage can impact the structure of your home, while radon and lead are hazardous to your health. 

4. Change Orders

Change Orders are a common hidden cost of remodeling

It happens all the time: You draw up your plans, the project is underway and suddenly you have a fresh idea for the kitchen or living room. While it’s typical for homeowners to customize their designs midway through the renovation, it’s usually where additional expenses creep in. 

When you decide to make changes to the plans, a change order has to be written up by the contractor. On average, studies have indicated that a change order costs about 10% to 15% of the contract value and can reduce productivity by 10% to 30%. 

Whether related to the actual layout or the finishes, remember that efforts are ongoing behind the scenes to get your remodeling project completed. For example, even if the shower tiles haven’t arrived yet, they’re likely already on the way. 

You should expect your contractor to ask for more money to compensate for the time and labor already spent on your renovation project. Those costs may also go towards price differences for needing additional materials.

5. Hiring Child and Pet Care

Hidden costs of renovation pet and child care

Construction zones aren’t the safest places for children and pets to wander around. Tools and other dangerous equipment pose a significant risk for injury. That’s why you may need to consider hiring a local pet sitter or childcare throughout your renovation.

Your contractor and workers will likely be in your home from early in the morning to about early evening. For this reason, you may want to sign your kids up for afterschool programs or hire someone to take them to the park until they finish working for the day.

It’s also recommended to board your pet or let a friend watch them while your house is under construction. You wouldn’t want your furry friend stepping on any nails or sharp materials. 

6. Vacating Your Home During Renovations

Costs of Remodeling vacating moving out

Sometimes, even you may need to vacate your house during remodeling. If you’re living in your home during the renovation, keep in mind that your contractor may accidentally knock the power or plumbing out of order.

It’s in your best interest to budget a couple of nights in a hotel just in case. Remediation may also send you and your family packing for a couple of days. Removal of hazardous materials may make it unsafe for you to linger around.

Be realistic if these situations arise. You can always ask nearby friends and family if you could stay with them in a pinch. This could help you cut back on these additional costs. 

7. Storage

Hidden costs of renovation - storage

Depending on how large of a remodeling project you’re doing, you may need to put several of your belongings in safe storage until completion.

There are different ways you can go about doing this, including using a nationwide company like PODS to store your valuables outside of your home. Another option is to put your belongings in a climate-controlled storage unit.

Renting a storage unit offsite is one fee you’ll have to account for, but you also need to consider how you will move your items there. For smaller boxes, you can probably transport them yourself. However, larger pieces of furniture may require hiring a company to move them for you or renting a U-Haul.

8. Eating Out

Costs of remodeling eating out restaurants

According to the 2021 U.S. Houzz & Home Study: Renovation Trends report, homeowners invested 14% more in kitchen remodels in 2020 compared to 2019. If your renovation project includes gutting and creating a brand-new kitchen area, you’ll likely be eating out for nearly every meal.

Aside from not having a place to sit down and eat, your contractor may need to shut off gas and power lines for the project’s duration.

Set aside money for eating out as a family and come up with easy recipes that don’t require pots, pans, and stovetops. 

9. Fixing the Landscape

Hidden cost of remodeling - landscaping

Your yard may be in pretty rough shape after a home renovation. Between heavy equipment tearing up your lawn, frequent foot traffic, and any exterior work done to your house—remediations, new additions, etc.—you’re going to want to spruce things up again.

Landscaping isn’t necessarily cheap; however, you can still find ways to save money on your yard by choosing cost-effective hardscaping, salvaged and local materials, and native perennial plants. 

Perennials are attractive and come back every year, unlike annuals. Likewise, selecting native plants for your area will save you money on irrigation and maintaining plant health in the long run. 

10. Cleaning Up

Hidden costs of remodeling home - cleaning up

After your renovation is done, you will probably be left with a thick layer of dust on just about every surface imaginable. Most likely, it’ll be too much for you to tackle on your own.

You’ll want to hire a cleaning company to come in and give your home a deep cleaning before you move back into the space. 

According to HomeAdvisor, the average rate for a professional cleaning service is between $100 and $180 for two hours, but the size of your home and location could impact this price. 

Plan for Any Budgetary Surprise

While there’s no way to know what surprises will come up during your home remodeling, you should set aside a contingency fund in case of an emergency. Speak with your contractor and others who have done major renovations to understand the other expenses you need to prepare yourself for.

When it comes to finding the best remodeling contractor in Los Angeles, Orange County, Ventura or San Diego – GreatBuildz is simplifying the contractor search. GreatBuildz is a free service that connects homeowners with reliable, thoroughly screened general contractors and provides project support from start to finish.


Call now (818.317.3567) to chat with a real person about your next renovation project or visit our website for more information: www.greatbuildz.com


Rose Morrison is a home & construction writer from Pittsburgh, PA. She’s the managing editor of Renovated, a web magazine for the real estate industry. She’s most interested in sharing home projects and inspiration for the most novice of DIY-ers, values she developed growing up in a family of contractors.

Hi, we're Paul and Jon - Co-Founders of GreatBuildz. We believe everyone deserves to find a great contractor, have a stress-free renovation, and enjoy their beautiful new space. There are so many contractors out there and it's often hard to tell the good from the bad... until it's too late. We started our company to help simplify your contractor search and help you have a stress-free renovation experience. We're always available to help, no matter where you are in the process. Click here to learn more about our story.

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