We have all been there. Your project sounded like a great idea that would be simple and economical to do. And then:
Something expensive breaks. In our case it was the toilet that we had temporarily removed to seal the tile and paint the walls. We found out it was broken when Rob tested it. The water flowed from under the toilet and down into our storage closet.
It’s looking dangerous. We were perilously close to this one when we took off part of the roof of our house to vault the ceiling. They cut all of the trusses from the top of the walls with a saw and proceeded to lift off the entire roof with a large piece of machinery. Thankfully nothing unexpected happened.
Water is everywhere. We were remodeling our basement bathroom and it began to rain. This was a big storm and the power went out. Unfortunately, this meant that our sump pump would not work any longer. Needless to say we had all sorts of stuff filling up our basement. Thanks to our friends who bailed out our basement for over an hour with 5 gallon buckets, we did not have to replace drywall or trim. There was however lots of sanitizing and an installation of a battery backup for our sump pump.
There are structural issues. Thankfully we have not encountered this at our home. We have had a client with a basement wall that was failing due to a previous owner incorrectly supporting a beam on the wall. The cost of the repair caused them to not be able to do the original project as planned. Another common mistake is to enclose your deck to convert it into a 3 or 4 season room without increasing the size of the footings to handle the additional weight. The entire porch will start to sink into the ground and will need to be jacked up to replace the footings. Always consult an architect or structural engineer when considering a major change for your house.
It did not turn out the way you expected. This could mean a number of things: your addition is too small for the intended use, the new area of you home takes over the exterior of your façade and is distracting, the slope of your roof does not allow for adequate drainage. We have dealt with all of these issues with homeowners and unfortunately it is common for the fix to be expensive. Its difficult to admit that things may not go as expected.
Have a contingency: When making changes to your home there are many unknown conditions that will arise once the work has begun. The best way to be prepared for these situation is to have a “Contingency” number in your budget. This is the money that will be needed to take care of the unexpected. As much as we plan for projects, things tend to pop up unexpectedly. For example: An existing footing that was much larger than we expected. It was too big to remove, so the addition was expanded by 24″ to use this large and stable footing. How much of a contingency do you need? The rule that we use is approximately 10% of the budget will be held in reserve for the “unknown” factor.
I would like to say that we rarely use this extra money, but I’m sure you have heard that improving, remodeling or adding on are not exact sciences.