Expect the unexpected when you renovate an old house
8th November 2016
The weather’s warming up, you’ve saved up the spare cash to renovate an old house, now you’d like to jump right in and start renovating. Perhaps you and your family have recently moved into an older style home which is in dire need of a new lease of life? Or maybe you’ve been poring over books and magazines during the cooler months and have now got have the plans of how you want the place to look?
Before you start though, there are a number of factors to consider. The key one is the hidden extra costs that can arise from unexpected situations you may face in the renovation.
While you may have budgeted for the various jobs that make up the work, have you had the place checked for any problems that may occur as you renovate? This may be especially so for older houses. While renovating an older place to bring back its charm and style has great appeal, there may be some hidden nasties that you uncover as you begin the various stages.
For example, hidden costs may occur when you come across a number of structural defects in the house as you pull down ceilings, floors and roofs. Some may be superficial, these are easy enough to correct by yourself if you are doing the renovation, however others may be major jobs. This is where you will need to budget for specialist tradies to repair the work.
Here are some examples:
- Walls. What if you were to start your project only to find the original walls weren’t built square and level? This may cause you to backtrack on the work and repair and realign the walls before you can move on. Older homes may also contain loose asbestos in walls, floors and ceilings. If you find this to be the case, you will need to consult experts in asbestos removal to resolve the problem. This must be properly disposed of by professionals according to regulations before you can continue with the next stage.
- Plumbing. Galvanised pipes were common in Australia before the 1960s in Australia. The problem with these is their tendency to decay or corrode and block easily. Should your renovation work include work that involves plumbing — such as a bathroom or kitchen project — you may wish to replace older pipes with updated plumbing made from PVC or even copper. However factoring in these hidden costs is important. The cost of replacing pipes may vary from one thousand to up to ten thousand dollars, according to an article on property site realestate.com.au and referenced by Lifehacker Australia.
- Electrical wiring. Your older style house may have character and charm but it may have been built in the gentle era before the Internet, dishwashers, computers, washing machines and other sundry electrical appliances. If you’ve just moved into the house, you may find that the entire wiring system needs upgrading or that there is a lack of electrical sockets throughout the house to accommodate your appliances. An inspection may also find the electrical cabling degraded and not in compliance with electrical safety codes. It is, of course, essential to fix this problem should it arise however hiring electricians to rewire the house will add significantly to the original budgeted amount.
- Roofing. A perennial problem in older houses, roofing may need to be upgraded or replaced completely. You will need to get the roofing and guttering inspected by a qualified professional to alert you of any hidden costs. Problems that you may uncover include: leaking roofs, key support beams missing or rotted away or the entire roof may be structurally unsound.
- Ceiling. Lack of support in the ceiling space, often caused by beams that sag over time, may result in sagging ceilings. Examination of the ceiling may uncover water damage, which may cause mould problems in affected areas and should be attended to as soon as possible to minimise health impacts. You will also have to check to see if the ceiling and walls are insulated in accordance with industry standards.
It’s important to expect the unexpected before you start your renovation work. This is particularly so if it’s an older house. Those extra, hidden costs need to be accounted for before you start the renovation. If you find that your house may have a few of these problems, it’s important to contact a qualified tradesperson with experience in dealing with fixing structural faults and specialist jobs such as plumbing and roofing.
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