We've all seen the home improvement shows where a contractor or homeowner pulls up ugly carpeting to reveal gorgeous, vintage hardwood floors. Unfortunately, not all construction surprises are pleasant ones, and there's always the chance that you'll discover a problem once the project takes off. If you're renovating an older home, remember that building codes may have been a lot looser and even non-existent when it was built, so who knows what's behind that wall or under your floor? When you're dealing with newer construction, you never know what corners the previous owner may have cut.
Your contractors could knock down a wall to open up your kitchen and discover costly termite damage, or as they break ground for your home addition, they could discover bad soil on your property that needs to be shored up before they can pour the foundation.
Preparing for unforeseen hiccups in the construction process can save you a lot of time and stress, and it can even mean the difference between completing your home improvement or running out of money. Most contractors will build a 10 percent reserve for unforeseen problems into their estimate, and you'll need to make sure you either have the cash on hand or enough financing to cover the project costs plus that reserve amount. Of course, there's a great chance your construction project will go off without a hitch, and in that case you get that 10 percent back when the renovation is complete.