Remodel Reality Check

Find out what it really costs to remodel a home

We all know it’s best to take reality TV programs with a grain of salt, or, in some cases, perhaps with a whole shaker. While they can be funny or compelling, they usually don’t contain a ton of actual reality. 

Even shows that don’t seem too outlandish can be secretly deceptive. Home-improvement shows, for example, often make major remodeling projects look pretty easy. Even if there is some sort of dilemma, it gets fixed rather quickly, and by the end of the episode, the kitchen or bathroom or whatever is finished and looks amazing. And, of course, it all gets done well within the homeowner’s budget. 

Don’t be fooled by TV home remodelers

If you are thinking about a remodel, you shouldn’t let HGTV and the like be your source for costs. For one thing, thanks to their advertisers, these shows often get materials that are drastically discounted, or even free. Plus, in many cases the contractors they use work for substantially lower rates because of the publicity they get. When the costs of the materials and labor are a fraction of what they should be, any project would have an unrealistic price tag. 

Costs they don’t usually mention on TV

There are quite a few things that need to happen before, during, or after a remodel, many of which aren’t talked about on home-improvement shows. Here are a few of them. 

Getting the right work permits

Usually, before any work can take place, the right permits have to be obtained, and their costs depend on the scope of the project. They might just be a few hundred dollars or they could end up costing thousands.   

Surveying the property

For an addition, fence, or anything that will approach the property line, getting a survey is important. Finding out where your neighbor’s property begins is something you will want to know long before work begins. A survey is usually around $500 or so.

Hiring a contractor

In addition to home-improvement shows making you believe you can remodel a room for little more than the change you find in your couch, they also do a great job of fostering delusions of DIY grandeur. The average person will not be able to do the vast majority of the work, and particularly if it involves the electrical or plumbing systems. This is why hiring a contractor is so important, and good ones aren’t cheap. 

Getting a home up to code

Building codes change fairly often, so if your home is several decades old and has never had any renovations or updates, it is possible that you might have to make additional changes. For example, if you’re planning to turn a basement into a bedroom, in order to label it as a bedroom, it has to have a window. This example is especially important if you are remodeling with the goal of selling. 

Fixing subpar work

Unless you are the original owner of the home, you just never know what type of work was done on it throughout the years. This could include subpar repairs or lazy workarounds that may not be evident until the project is underway. Anything like this will have to be fixed before you can proceed.

Repairing damage from pests

It’s possible that on the outside, the walls look fine, but if you’ll need to open them up or tear some of them down, you may discover something unpleasant. There could be all sorts of interior damage from bugs such as termites or even animals such as mice or squirrels. If it is extensive, this could lead to four-figure repairs. 

Adding the decorative details

When a typical remodeling show ends, you will see “before” pictures and then a cutaway to the “after” pictures. In addition to whatever is new – floor, appliances, cabinets, etc. – they never show you any room with bare walls or windows without drapery. When styles and colors have changed, you will probably need to upgrade your curtains, wall décor, pillows, and a variety of other things. While they may not be expensive on their own, these items can certainly add up. 

Disposing of construction debris

During a remodeling project on TV, you will see all of the stuff that gets ripped out, but by the end, it has magically disappeared. In real life, that’s going to be sitting on your lawn, and you will need to do something with it. If you need to rent a dumpster or hire a company to take it away, this is yet another expense to consider.  

While home-improvement shows can provide entertainment value and may offer some inspiration, they should never be confused with actual reality. To get a good idea of what a project will cost you, it’s important to talk to a contactor and go over all of the areas mentioned above. A good contractor can help you make decisions that will fit within your project’s budget. 

For a free estimate on your remodeling project, contact Tandem Contracting. From bathrooms and kitchens to basements and decks, we do it all. Call us at 973-864-3100 or just send us a message through our online form.

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