Those Dreaded Words: “I Need to Show You Something”

There is nothing worse than your contractor saying “I need to show you something”, just after he has performed demolition during the start of your project. With heightened anxiety you follow him to the exposed section. He then points out unforeseen structural flaws or preexisting defects, like electrical or plumbing, that, if left unabated, could result in greater damage later on. Your thoughts are racing – “How much is this going to cost and how much longer will this push out the completion date?”

Unforeseen Structural Damages

Cost- and time-overruns are the most prevalent problems that impact a construction project’s overall success. The extra expense and work that results from an unwelcomed “demolition surprise” will surely increase your overall budget and extend your schedule. Most legitimate contractors will plan for this risk in advance by explaining that a project may be impacted once demolition commences. They can’t see through walls and no one knows what secrets may be hidden before demolition begins. According to a 2016 survey by Consumer Reports, 42% of responding contractors cited structural damages as a main issue that leads to cost or time overruns on residential construction projects.

Plan and Budget for the Unexpected

Since these conditions are unknown to both the homeowner and the contractor, it is advisable to set expectations (and contingency plans) that this is a possibility, whenever demolition occurs. Issues such as dry rot, termite infestations, poor workmanship from a previous contractor, will all negatively impact your project.

Early Discovery is Actually a Good Thing

Remember, demolition is all about discovery, which is actually a good thing. Taking care of issues before they “take down” the house, inhibit re-sell value or expose the homeowner to future liability should be the positive approach to addressing these challenges. Even with extensive pre-planning for your construction project, homeowners should expect the unexpected and be prepared for these events. It is recommended to add at least a 10% to 15% cushion to your construction budget to cover unforeseen circumstances.

Even the best pre-inspection of a property cannot uncover every possible surprise. If you have any questions about what to expect, discuss this aspect with the contractor before signing to make sure you both have aligned your expectations. If you do happen to experience an unplanned setback during your home improvement project, be sure to thoroughly and responsibly take care of the situation. This approach will help ward off any future heartache and risky liability. Also be grateful that these issues were discovered prior to the occurrence of any major disaster.