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What’s In That Wall?



What's In That Wall?

In 2018, 51% of homeowners had plans to renovate some part of their home from repainting to kitchen remodeling to entire additions. As a result, we see home renovation spending at an all-time high and one in four projects going over-budget. So why are so many homeowners spending more than they initially planned for? The answer may lie just past the surface of our walls.

In 2016, an Ohio couple made an alarming discovery behind the walls of their basement ceiling – a suitcase containing over $20,000 in cash. Just a few years after, construction workers in Georgia made an equally startling discovery behind the walls of a building they were remodeling. More than 1,000 human teeth were tucked away under the surface of the walls and it was later revealed that the building had been occupied by dentists in the early 1900s. Whether we like what we find or not, understanding exactly what is lurking just beneath the surface of our walls is essential before we start knocking them down.

Among projects that go over-budget, more than half of them do so during the construction phase. Unexpected complications can begin to add up; the median estimated cost for projects comes up to $5,000 but actual spending hits around $10,000 instead. Luckily, many construction roadblocks can be avoided with a little extra planning beforehand. Much like the Ohio couple being met with a pleasant surprise, or the Georgia construction team met with a sight most macabre, there’s no telling what is behind our walls until we actually take a look.

General home maintenance rules and common sense tells us to be wary of drilling or cutting into walls unless we know what’s behind them. In terms of renovation projects, this step is essential. Poor planning may lead to construction crews knocking down a load-bearing wall, cutting through electrical wiring, or plumbing. Even non-load-bearing walls may be acting as more than just a room partition by supporting some weight of the home. Be it drywall or masonry, getting to know what’s behind the walls helps maintain the safety of construction crews, the home’s structural integrity, and staying well within budget.

Before renovations begin, or perhaps even before any planning begins, consulting with a home inspector can help you start with a clean slate and big picture of what is really going on with your home. Home inspections are quick and easy, yet identify subtleties and potential future problems that may come up during construction. Structural engineers can go a step further, especially when your renovation vision includes knocking down or moving walls. Architects can listen to your ideas, offer suggestions for how to proceed, and advise on which walls may or may not be moved.

Take the guesswork out of your home renovations. A little extra planning can go a long way to getting the updates you need, re-prioritizing expectations, and avoiding costly mistakes down the line. This infographic details the common issues homeowners face when it comes to renovations, how to get projects done as smoothly as possible, and when to consult with professionals.

Brian Wallace is the Founder and President of NowSourcing, an industry leading infographic design agency , based in Louisville, KY and Cincinnati, OH which works with companies that range from startups to Fortune 500s. Brian also runs #LinkedInLocal events nationwide, hosts the Next Action Podcast, and has been named a Google Small Business Advisor for 2016-present and joined the SXSW Advisory Board in 2019. Follow Brian Wallace on LinkedIn as well as Twitter.