Hidden Remodel Costs

Five Factors that HGTV Forgot to Mention

You can’t swing a dead cat these days without hitting a designer or builder bemoaning the disservice “home renovation” shows perform when they tout ridiculously low kitchen and bath remodel costs. The Internet (that gleaming beacon of all information factual and trustworthy) can be even worse!

Here’s the thing: if it were all fun and games, everybody’d be doing it. These shows paint an awfully rosy picture, but there’s a lot of information they’re leaving out. Choosing to invest in a remodel is a major financial decision for most households, and being prepared with the right information is the first step toward the success of the project. If remodeling projects were really as easy as they seem on TV that same dead cat would hit drop-dead gorgeous kitchens with every swing. Here are five hidden costs of a remodel that HGTV forgot to mention:

  1. Materials

The folks who produce these shows are professionals with a lot of industry contacts and know-how, and they use those skills and relationships to source great deals on materials, generally at wholesale prices. If you’re reading this, it’s unlikely that you possess those same skills and sources, and you probably don’t have the time to go out and find those kinds of deals. Even if you did find them, how would you know that you had purchased the right materials for the job? There’s a reason that people make a living by doing this kind of work. Quoting unrealistic materials prices is a huge disservice to the viewers who may now have wildly unrealistic expectations of what things cost.

  1. Fabrication and Installation

Maybe you will find great deals on things like cabinetry, slabs of stone and faucets, but guess what? Unless you’re an awfully handy person with a lot of time on your hands, you have just purchased some expensive wooden boxes, a ridiculously large paperweight, and a pretty piece of scrap metal. Materials aren’t very useful until they’re installed, and on larger projects the price of labor is HALF of the cost of the remodel. Skilled tradesmen command a comfortable living, for good reason. Plus, expert installation is what makes these materials look and feel like an upgrade. Surely you’ve seen a “DIY” renovation (your neighbor’s perhaps…?) and noticed the knicks, cracks and sort-of-uneven results.

  1. Demolition

You have to take out the old kitchen before you can install a new one, and that can require some seriously heavy lifting. Then you’ve got to get rid of that stuff, so you’re either paying for haul-away services, or ordering a dumpster. If you’re planning to park that dumpster on the street, get ready to shell out for a permit… for every month it’s there. There’s also a pretty good chance that something will get broken while the sledgehammers are a swingin’, so don’t forget to add in the cost of drywall and framing repair, plus the painter’s day rate.

  1. Remediation

Installing new plumbing and electrical materials into the existing mechanical systems of the home is a great idea… unless your existing mechanical needs to be updated. What an awful waste it would be to hook up a new faucet to old, decaying plumbing just to have an old pipe break and destroy half of your new cabinetry and your whole floor. Electrical systems are even more serious, and chances are pretty good that one of those shiny new appliances is going to require a lot more juice than just any old outlet can supply. Updates to major mechanical systems can come with very large price tags.

  1. Supervision

If you have the money to consider a remodel project, you probably have a job that pays you to show up and work. But if you’re at work during the day, who’s overseeing the remodel? Again, this stuff ain’t easy, and somebody needs to be there to make sure the whole thing goes smoothly. An experienced Construction Manager or General Contractor is paid to be the guy who manages projects, solves problems as they arise, and keeps the project running on schedule!

Remodeling and home improvement shows can be a lot of fun to watch, and can provide ideas and inspiration galore. Just don’t expect that a binge viewing of Fixer Upper will provide any more information about the nitty-gritty of a remodel than an episode of Hell’s Kitchen does about a career in the culinary arts.