From time to time I see projects tabled or postponed due to budgetary reasons. It's unfortunate at any point in the process but it's particularly heartbreaking when the clients have spent many months and many thousands of dollars on design fees, only to learn that the beautiful project depicted in the architect's drawings will cost much more than they are able or willing to invest.
Sometimes the project doesn't get off the ground because the architect has simply drawn too large a project for the client's budget. It's easy for all parties involved - homeowners, architects and, yes, even contractors- to allow their enthusiasm for the project to get carried away. When this happens the scope increases and, of course, so does the cost.
Other projects go off the rails because the clients were unaware of the all of the costs involved in a construction project. People sometimes get fixated on just the construction costs and underestimate the other expenses.
So what are the hidden costs of construction? Many people use the terms "soft" and "hard" costs to define the two main categories of costs. Soft costs are all of the costs not associated with actual tangible construction. Hard costs are the direct construction costs.
Here's a list of the typical costs in residential construction. Your project may not include all of these, of course, but it there may be one or two things listed here that you haven't considered.
Temporary rental housing (do you need to move out during construction?)
Moving and storage costs
Legal fees (e.g. contract review)
Accounting (e.g. if any renewable energy tax credits are involved)
Financing (if construction or home equity loans are involved)
In addition to the well-understood costs associated with demolition, framing, roofing, etc, please consider the following.
Hay bales and silt fence
Tree removal or other tree work
Landscape construction (driveways, walks, patios)
Landscaping (plantings, lawns, irrigation systems, lighting)
Utility hookups (water, sewer, gas, electric)
AV systems (home theaters, built-in music systems, etc)
We'll talk more about some of these items in more detail in an upcoming blog post. In the meantime, if you are planning a renovation, addition, or new house, please take a few minutes to create a spreadsheet showing all of the potential costs. You'll thank me later.
Let me know if there are things that I've missed that should be on this list!