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Why your renovation will cost more: uncovering hidden costs

After a major renovation and flooring upgrade, a chemical cleaning may be required. PHOTO: MINK DESIGN
After a major renovation and flooring upgrade, a chemical cleaning may be required. PHOTO: MINK DESIGN

Be aware of these hidden costs that come with renovating your house, so you don’t get a sudden shock when the bill arrives

Whether you are getting the keys to a new or resale flat, there will usually be a need to do some renovations.

And, no matter how detailed your plans are, the total cost of the renovation will usually increase by the end of the project because of unexpected hidden costs that may creep in during the project. 

Here are some of the most common reasons for the renovation cost to go past your budget: 

1. Electrical wiring or ducting

As we use more and more devices in our homes, the need for more wall outlets increases drastically — whether it’s to charge or to power devices. A typical flat may include two outlets in each room and more in the living room; hardly enough as you start to accumulate more digital gadgets.

Of course, you could always use multi-plugs or power strips, but those can really disrupt the aesthetics of your living room — and could pose a fire hazard if you plug too many into one. 

The best solution is simply to add power outlets. However, installation of each additional power outlet may cost between $60 to $80, even without taking into account the cost of rewiring cables at the fuse box. 

You also have to take into account how you want to conceal the extended electrical wiring: covering it up with PVC trunking is cheaper but less aesthetically pleasing, while concealing it in the walls would require hacking and therefore be substantially more expensive. 

Furthermore, while most people account for the price of their air-conditioning units in their budget, it is a common mistake to overlook the cost of their air-conditioning piping. Depending on the location of your air-conditioning unit, you may need to pay for extended piping to reach the compressor outside the window. 

Air-conditioners typically come with trunking to hide the piping. However, if the trunking does not match your interior aesthetic, you will need to conceal it with a false ceiling or an L-box — another additional cost. 

Make sure you consult with your contractor whether these costs are included in the initial quote, and if not, how much more they will add to the initial estimate.


Hidden lighting and TV consoles may require additional plug points that need to be factored into your renovation cost. PHOTO: SPACE FACTOR 

2. Debris cleanup and haulage

Naturally, hacking comes with debris that needs to be disposed of. Your contractor should provide a disposal fee in the quotation. The disposal will normally be carried out by the contractor using their own lorry.

However, in a major renovation, you may need to rent a construction waste bin, and the fees to empty it several times through the duration of the work.

If it is not in the initial fee, check with your contractor to make sure this cost is accounted for.

3. Chemical cleaning

After renovation, your house needs a proper cleaning, to sweep up all the dust and debris produced by hacking. 

Of course, you could always do it yourself. This can be an extremely labour-intensive process, however, and there might be some stains that might require specialised equipment to remove. 

Check to see if your contractor provides that cleanup service for you, and whether it is included in the quote. If not, be prepared to fork out a little extra to find a cleanup crew.

If you do not want to go through the hassle of finding your own crew, you can always request that your contractor do it for you — for an additional fee, of course.

4. Doors and cabinet hardware

Doors and cabinet hardware can be an unexpected source of additional costs when accounting for renovation works. 

Some contractors might choose to charge extra for the cost of doorknobs, particularly expensive or complex designs, while others may count this in the initial cost. Others may charge extra for an automatic door closer.

Ideally, a quotation should make clear precisely what components a client is paying for — the door, the knob, the hinges, the closer and stopper (if included), and so on.

5. Bathroom accessories

Most bathroom accessories will be installed by contractors at no additional costs, such as basic shelving or showerheads. 

However, more complex bathroom works, such as those that require additional plumbing, will definitely end up costing more — such as a jacuzzi, or a rain shower.

6. Last-minute change fees

Finally, this is quite self-explanatory, but contractors will charge more for last-minute changes in the plan. The greater the changes that need to be made, the more you will have to fork out. 

For instance, if your contractor has custom-made some kitchen cabinets for you, and you decide to change the dimensions or even the wood type, this will result in a significant increase in price.

Get a detailed contract

To avoid hidden costs from creeping into your renovation, you should always get as detailed a contract as possible from your contractors. 

If there are miscellaneous costs on your renovation contract, always clarify with your contractor to find out precisely what these are. Hold off on signing the contract if your contractor is reluctant to disclose the specifics — any reliable contractor should have no qualms about discussing costs with their clients.

But at the end of the day, you need to be flexible, too. It is quite normal for any renovation project to exceed the budget by about 10 per cent to account for unexpected costs.