Hidden Costs in Remodeling

Watch any reality TV show on remodeling, and it seems that with a only few months time and some sweat equity, you too can have your dream home.  While this may be true, the shows also almost always leave out some of the more unpleasant (and expensive) aspects of the remodel project.  So before you start your next project, read this article and make sure you know all the costs before you start.

Many homeowners, who start what seems like a simple remodel project, are stunned by the hidden costs involved in the project. Many homeowners think, largely in part to reality TV shows, that adding a room should be really simple and not too expensive; however, it is important to understand all the costs involved. The process for this type of project is filled with obstacles and costs, which can become too much for some homeowners to overcome.

Rarely do TV shows discuss the costs of permitting, which in Florida can be very expense. Let’s look at a hypothetical scenario in Lake County, with a homeowner who wants to build a 650 square-foot addition to their home. First, the homeowner will have to have a $200 survey completed on their property so their project can go through the county’s required zoning and approval process. In addition, the homeowner will need a complete set of engineered blueprints, which will cost about $550. The plan submitted by the homeowner to the county must also include an energy calculation on the home (cost is around $175), which in most cases will require the home’s air conditioning system and/or windows be upgraded.

For a homeowner whose home has a well and/or septic tank, the addition must be approved by the Health Department. To apply for additional capacity on the septic system, the homeowner must pay the Health Department $350 to inspect the area and test the soil. The Health Department will probably require the septic tank be pumped and inspected for cracks, which could cost an additional several hundred dollars. If the Health Department determines that the home’s septic tank or drain-field is not big enough, the homeowner may have to upgrade, which will cost an additional several thousand dollars.

Next in the process, the homeowner will need to submit their plan to the Lake County Building Department for approval. This process can be very frustrating for a homeowner because of the nitpicking. Once the plan is approved then it’s time for the homeowner to open their wallet. The building permit will cost around $580 and transportation impact fees will cost $674.

All of the above processes occur if everything goes well. If the addition is too large, there’s a good chance everything in the home will have to be brought up to current building codes, including the landscaping. Then there is the issue with getting proper approval from the county’s zoning department. If anything is outside the norm, the homeowner can add 90 days to the process as well as more expenses. Plus, consideration must be made in regard to deed restrictions and homeowners’ association rules regarding the design and size of the addition.

Additions and remodels are wonderful investments in a home. For many homeowners who are upside-down financially in their home, this type of project has become a necessity. The hidden costs are the reason why many people have sticker-shock when they are quoted a price by a qualified remodeler for an addition. The best advice for any homeowner considering a remodel is simple; know your cost before starting–don’t get surprised.