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Why remodeling costs can be more expensive than a new build

When it comes to comparing the costs of remodeling vs. building a new home, the variables are not always obvious. A build implies starting from scratch on a blank piece of property without existing barriers. New builds are almost always priced out by the square foot making the cost somewhat predictable. As long as materials are available, it should follow a step by step, rather calculable process. Not so much with a remodel! The fact that the house, yard, parking areas, etc. are already existing can present unforeseen obstacles, and precautions must be taken which can add considerably to the cost.
Here’s a look at some of them:

Navigating access to the site

Often a path to the house is full of obstacles! Landscaping, hardscaping, parking and maneuvering around existing finished spaces can be challenging. Sometimes there are steps to and from an entry point which make coming and going time consuming since all materials have to be carried from trucks to the site. It takes extra time for the construction crew and subcontractors to maneuver existing barriers which increases labor costs.

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Protection of existing surfaces and finishes

When starting a home remodel, it is imperative to prepare existing areas which are remaining in place, with protective materials. Heavy duty paper is put down to cover floors and to make a walking path on inside areas and outside where entry and exit points are. Plastic around doorways, between rooms, on HVAC vents and other airways is necessary in order to keep dust and other particles contained during the demolition and remodeling process. Tub and shower protection are necessary as is water protection of the existing home if there’s an addition to exterior walls. Countertops, cabinets and any other surfaces that are not part of the remodel also must be protected. All of this crucial preparatory work takes considerable time.

Non-linear work flow

In a perfect world, the sequence of tasks are performed in succession as planned. This rarely happens with a remodel. It’s tricky to coordinate the work flow when one task depends on another. If a certain task isn’t completed, the whole schedule shifts and the tasks that follow can get delayed by days or weeks. Needless to say, rescheduling subcontractors and crews can become extremely challenging and time consuming in terms of managing the project.

Common unknown issues 

Probably the biggest setback when renovating a house are the unknowns, especially when it comes to older homes. Outdated plumbing and electrical systems, hazardous materials, foundation problems, water damage, mold, mildew, dry rot, structural problems, roof damage, not to mention unfavorable conditions that may be hiding behind walls and under floors are all issues that could be present. These things must be remedied and can add considerable material and labor costs to a remodel.


Owners in the home, storing items

It’s much easier to navigate working when the house is either unoccupied or the owners decide to move out during the construction process. When owners are living in the home, often the crew has to work around their schedule which can put limits on moving forward and getting things done. Tasks can get delayed which means rescheduling issues involving subcontractors and crews. Not only do people live in their homes but so does their stuff! Often appliances as well as personal items must be moved away from the rooms that are being renovated, to an area of the house where they are safe and out of the way such as in a basement. This task falls on the crew which again adds on to labor costs.

So the path to a remodel isn’t always clear-cut! The bottom line is that these obstacles can and often do increase the price of a remodel particularly when it comes to materials, project management and labor fees. Having said all of that, at Black Locust Builders we are committed to communicating with our clients, keeping you up-to-date and to minimizing any extra costs which might arise. We look forward to working with you and providing a finished, quality renovation to your home.

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