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Don't Let These Hidden Costs Derail Your Home Renovation Project!

Updated: Sep 19, 2023

Home renovation projects are a popular way to improve your home's functionality and aesthetics. However, what many homeowners don't realize is that the costs associated with these projects can quickly add up. While the upfront costs of materials and labor are often the most obvious expenses, there are a number of hidden costs that can surprise homeowners and lead to budget overruns. In this blog post, we'll explore some of the most commonly overlooked costs of home renovation and provide tips for managing them.


Permits and inspections are an often-overlooked cost of home renovation projects, but they can add up quickly if you're not prepared. Depending on the scope of your project, you may need to obtain permits from your local government before beginning any work. This is particularly true for larger projects, such as additions, significant structural changes, or electrical and plumbing work. The permit process involves submitting plans and specifications to your local government for review and approval, and it can take several weeks or even months to receive approval.

In addition to permits, you may also need to undergo inspections from your local government to ensure that the work is being done safely and to code. These inspections may occur at different stages of the project, such as before work begins, during the construction process, and after the work is completed. Inspections are typically required for electrical, plumbing, and structural work, but may also be required for other types of work, depending on your location.

The cost of permits and inspections can vary depending on your location and the nature of your project. Some local governments charge a flat fee for permits, while others base the fee on the value of the project. Inspections are typically included in the cost of the permit, but you may need to pay additional fees if multiple inspections are required.

To avoid unexpected costs associated with permits and inspections, it's important to research the requirements for your project ahead of time. You can typically find this information on your local government's website or by contacting their building department directly. Make sure to factor these costs into your budget and timeline for your project, as obtaining permits and undergoing inspections can add significant time to your project schedule. You can learn more about permits in Ontario here.

Finally, it's important to ensure that all work is done safely and to code, even if it means incurring additional costs for permits and inspections. Failure to obtain the necessary permits and undergo required inspections can result in fines and penalties, and may also impact the safety and functionality of your home. By planning ahead and working with your local government to obtain the necessary permits and inspections, you can ensure that your home renovation project is a success.

Unexpected Repairs

Reflective woman deep in thought, cradling her head.

One of the most frustrating and costly aspects of home

renovation projects are the unexpected repairs that can arise. While you may have planned out every detail of your renovation, there are often unforeseen issues that need to be addressed before you can move forward with the project. These issues can include things like structural damage, electrical problems, plumbing issues, and water damage.

Focused homeowner working on a kitchen sink repair project.

One of the most common unexpected repairs that homeowners encounter during home renovation projects is water damage. This can happen in any part of the house, and may be caused by leaking pipes, damaged roofing, or a faulty foundation. Water damage can cause serious problems if left unaddressed, including mold growth, structural damage, and damage to your personal belongings.

Another common issue that can arise during home renovation projects is electrical problems. This may include outdated wiring, faulty circuits, or the need for additional electrical outlets. While these issues may seem minor, they can be dangerous if left unaddressed and may require the assistance of a licensed electrician to fix.

Structural damage is another potential issue that can arise during home renovation projects. This may include damage to walls, ceilings, or floors that require repair before the renovation can proceed. Structural damage may be caused by a variety of factors, including water damage, pests, or simply wear and tear over time.

Regardless of the specific issue, unexpected repairs can add significant costs to your home renovation project. This is why it's important to have a contingency fund in place to cover these unexpected costs. As a general rule of thumb, it's a good idea to set aside around 10-20% of your total renovation budget for unexpected repairs. This will help to ensure that you have enough funds available to address any unforeseen issues that arise during the project.

Upgrades & Changes

It's not uncommon for homeowners to make additional upgrades or changes to their renovation plans as the project progresses. Perhaps you've decided that you want to upgrade to a higher quality countertop material, or you've realized that you need to add additional lighting fixtures to properly illuminate your newly renovated space. While these upgrades and changes can certainly enhance the overall outcome of your project, they can also add unexpected costs.

To avoid being caught off guard by these additional expenses, it's important to have open and honest communication with your contractor. Make sure to discuss any potential upgrades or changes with them early on in the project and get their input on the potential costs involved. Your contractor can help you to make informed decisions about which upgrades and changes are worth the added expense and which may not be necessary.

It's also important to factor these potential upgrades and changes into your renovation budget from the outset. This will help you to avoid any unexpected costs and ensure that you have enough funds available to cover any additional expenses that arise.

In some cases, it may be possible to save money by making certain upgrades or changes later on down the line, after the initial renovation project is complete. For example, if you've decided that you want to upgrade your flooring material but it's not within your current budget, you may be able to save up for the upgrade over time and have it installed at a later date.

In conclusion, upgrades and changes can certainly enhance the overall outcome of your home renovation project, but it's important to have open communication with your contractor and factor in potential costs from the outset to avoid any unexpected expenses.

Temp Housing

Temporary housing is an important consideration when planning a home renovation project, especially if the project involves major renovations or significant disruptions to your living space. Depending on the extent of the work, you may need to find alternative housing for several weeks or even months. This can include renting a temporary apartment or staying with friends or family.

The cost of temporary housing can vary widely depending on your location and the type of accommodations you choose. In some cases, you may be able to negotiate a reduced rate for an extended stay, or take advantage of short-term rental options through online platforms like Airbnb. However, it's important to factor in these costs when planning your renovation budget to avoid unexpected expenses.

In addition to the cost of temporary housing itself, there may be other associated costs to consider, such as storage fees for your belongings if you need to put them in a storage unit during the renovation. You may also need to factor in the cost of transportation to and from your temporary living space, as well as any additional expenses related to living away from home, such as dining out or doing laundry at a laundromat.

To minimize the impact of temporary housing costs on your renovation project, it's important to plan ahead and consider all your options. If you're working with a contractor, they may be able to provide guidance on the best options for temporary housing and help you negotiate a fair price. You may also want to explore alternative living arrangements, such as staying with friends or family or temporarily relocating to a vacation home.

Overall, while temporary housing costs can add to the expense of a home renovation project, proper planning and budgeting can help minimize the impact and ensure a successful outcome.

Time & Energy

Managing a home renovation project can be a full-time job, especially if you're taking on a large-scale project. Even if you're working with a contractor, you'll still need to invest time and energy into managing the project and ensuring that everything is on track. This can include scheduling regular meetings with the contractor, coordinating deliveries of materials, and making decisions on design and materials.

If you're doing the renovation project yourself, the time and energy required can be even more significant. You'll need to invest time into planning the project, sourcing materials, and completing the work. This can be a time-consuming process, especially if you don't have experience in home renovation projects. In addition, taking on a large-scale renovation project can be physically demanding and require a significant amount of energy.

It's important to factor in the time and energy required for a home renovation project when creating your budget. If you're working with a contractor, make sure to factor in the time required to manage the project. If you're doing the project yourself, make sure to account for the time required for planning, sourcing materials, and completing the work. By accounting for these costs, you can ensure that you're prepared for the investment required to successfully complete your home renovation project.


In conclusion, home renovation projects can be exciting and rewarding, but it's important to be aware of the potential hidden costs that can arise. By factoring in the costs of permits and inspections, having a contingency fund for unexpected repairs, and carefully considering any upgrades or changes to the project, you can help ensure that your renovation stays within budget and is a success. It's also important to work closely with your contractor and communicate openly to avoid any surprises or unexpected expenses. With proper planning and budgeting, you can achieve the home renovation of your dreams without breaking the bank.

Plan Smart


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