If you talk to enough people who have had renovations done on their home, you’ll inevitably hear a lot of stories about how a seemingly simple project ended up taking longer and costing more than originally expected. In many cases, these sorts of problems are related to things that are hidden behind walls, flooring, and ceilings and either the homeowner didn’t know there was a problem or the contractor couldn’t have known about it until they got in there and started working.
These hidden problems are so incredibly common that most guides to planning a home repair or renovation will advise you to allocate extra money to cover them. The older a home is, the more likely it is for hidden conditions to be found, but newer homes aren’t immune to them, either.
So, what are some of the most common problems that pop up and make home repairs more complicated?
Water Damage and Mold
If you see water getting into your home, your initial response is probably to contain the water and clean up the mess right away. If your roof leaks, you’ll try to contain the water as best you can and call a roofer. If a window leaks, you might check the window’s seals or even get a new vinyl replacement window. But once the source of the water has been addressed, there might be additional damage you didn’t realize was there. Water that gets in through leaky roofs and windows can easily cause more extensive damage to things hidden behind the walls or under the roof or lead to mold growth..
When you live in an older home, there’s a good chance it contains something that is now considered dangerous, but was once commonly used in homes. In most cases, this is either lead or asbestos. Lead paint was commonly used in homes built before 1978 and asbestos was widely used for fireproofing and insulation purposes until the mid-1970s. If lead paint and/or asbestos insulation has been used in your home and you’re planning a project that would involve knocking down or opening up a wall, special steps will need to be taken to make sure these materials are properly dealt with. Your best bet would be to contact your local Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to find a local contractor who is certified to handle these types of materials.
Rodents and insects of all types can easily cause lots of damage to a home, but damage caused by termites can be particularly devastating. Depending on how long a termite infestation has been going on, the amount of damage can range from being relatively minor and easy to fix to compromising your home’s structural integrity. Termite damage is one of the truest forms of hidden conditions. Since termites tend to eat wood from the inside out, it is entirely possible for wood to look perfectly fine on the surface, but be practically hollow because of termites.
Poorly-Done Previous Repairs
Unless you have a brand new home built for you, there’s a good chance that your home has been lived in by at least one other person before you. Unfortunately, that means you run the risk that one of your home’s previous residents either had questionable DIY skills or went the cheapest possible route on home improvement projects. Many contractors have started a job, only to realize someone else had done a pretty lousy repair job at some point before them, which can cause more work for them if they need to correct that previous repair.