The Hidden Costs Of Home Improvement

Photo by immo RENOVATION on Unsplash

When we moved into our new home just over a year ago, my partner and I were happy with its condition. We wanted to make some improvements, such as repainting the indoor walls, but they were mostly aesthetic. We certainly did not expect our improvements to cost all that much.

However, we soon learned that we had no idea what it meant to own a home. Home improvement did not happen in isolation. One thing inevitably led to another, until we had spent thousands of dollars on a home we’d considered almost perfect.

Owning a home comes with many costs new homeowners don’t expect. Even the basic monthly costs are higher than you may have planned for. You might need extra insurance that includes things like equipment breakdown coverage. There may also be items on your utility bill you hadn’t known existed.

When dealing with home improvement, these unexpected costs just keep adding up. These are some of the most common hidden costs of home improvement.

Photo by Blue Bird

Fixing Old Shortcuts

Our home was in good condition, at least in terms of functionality. But that was because the old owner had taken a lot of shortcuts. He may have done so to save himself money throughout the years, thinking that these shortcuts would be fine. Or he may have done so when he knew he was going to sell the home, and was happy to make them our problem. We’ll never know.

Regardless, every new shortcut we discovered cost us hundreds of dollars. Beneath tiling on a landing on the staircase, he had placed a wooden board instead of a concrete slab. A wooden door that he had ‘fixed’ with a small panel (basically a wooden bandaid) had to be replaced. The pool was leaking because he had painted the top of the inside walls, rather than tiling these parts to withstand the sun.

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We had to make up for his negligence, and fixing things he’d already fixed comprised much of our maintenance.

Utility Bills

Another hidden cost we had not planned for was the increase in the cost of utilities. When work was being done, far more electricity was being used to power the equipment. We had to empty and refill our pool, wasting almost twenty thousand gallons of water.

In hindsight, that our utility bills would rise is obvious. But it is something we forgot, and we are certainly not alone in this.

Photo by Ksenia Chernaya

Loss of Office and Kitchen Space

Certain home improvement projects make parts of the home temporarily unusable. This is particularly true when working on your kitchen. While the work is in progress, you have no option but to go out to eat or order in. You’re unable to make use of the only part of your home equipped for making food.

In the good old days of 2019, we could have stopped at the kitchen. However, nowadays my partner and I both work from home. When it was time for our offices to undergo work, we had to find alternative spaces. Fortunately, neither of us needed anything more than a coffee shop, and the extra money we spent was at most a couple hundred dollars. But those who need the quiet of a closed office will have to pay for space while the home improvement work is being done.


Not all homes need permits for basic home improvement projects. But there are many that do, and you probably won’t know about it until a contractor brings it up. In some cities, permits are required simply to ensure the safety of the home, both for yourself and for your neighbors. You may have to pay to get these permits, and if you don’t have time to do the admin, you may have to pay someone to take care of it for you.

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Home improvement is never as affordable as you expect it to be. Costs increase as you realize more and more has to be done. There are plenty of hidden costs you probably haven’t thought of. Consider the above before you start working on your project to save yourself the stress of figuring out a new budget.