Most common items that go over-budget

Construction is a messy process full of surprises. After a decade of building custom homes, we still manage to go over budget on our construction costs once in a while. We want to share our experiences with you. Here are our 10 most common items that we see need to pay close attention to. 

 1. Added Site Surveying  

While the initial site survey may already be completed initially as part of the design drawings there are usually extra surveying costs.  There are height checks; after each floor completed, after the roof goes on and whenever there is concern that we might be over or under height. There is also the final survey that needs to be completed for your final occupancy.  If landscaping is done at a later date, fences, decks, etc will need to be revised on the survey once again.  Each time we call the surveyor there will be a charge. 

2. Architectural Amendments 

Often times the actual construction does not work as planned on paper and amendments are needed by the architect. Depending on your contract with your architect or designer there may be additional costs to make amendments to plans on the fly.  

3. Extra Engineering Costs 

Geotechnical, Structural or Envelope engineering is often a variable expense and engineers are often needed to provide documentation, provide on-site consultations to the builder and assist in resolving issues that arise unexpectedly.  We often see this line underestimated during the budget. 

4. Additional Permit Costs and Deposits 

City permit costs may be advertised but there are usually additional deposits that need to be made to the City of Calgary upfront in order for your building permit to be issued.  Some of these deposits include sewer disconnection or road damage security. 

5. Utility Disconnection and Reconnection Costs 

Typically the utility company won’t quote your disconnection costs until you have already broke ground on your project. The fees they charge for their services are highly dependant on specific site conditions, how close the construction is to their service lines, access to right of ways, etc. We often see this budget line underestimated as the actual cost is difficult to budget for. 

6. Temp power, gas and fuel for heaters and drying 

During the winter months, builders need to run heaters that are powered by a fuel of some sort (gas, diesel or propane) and sometimes electricity.  If it is really cold outside and the house is still pre-insulation these costs add up quickly but are necessary to ensure adhesives properly cure and workers are able to work comfortably.  

7. Course of Construction insurance 

When you build you will be required to purchase a Course of Construction (COC) insurance policy.  This will either be the homeowners’ responsibility or the builders which cost will be passed onto the homeowner.  A COC policy is typically quoted based on the number of months the project will take and extending the policy will be attributed to added cost.   

8. Fencing and Toilets 

Temporary site fencing and porta potties are required for the construction period for safety and are rented on a monthly basis.  How long you rent fencing and toilets really depends on how quickly the project progresses until you don’t need it. 

9. Security 

Materials onsite get stolen if too much is stored onsite.  Having more frequent deliveries drives up costs of materials. Boarding things up, setting up security cameras and alarms or having a site security guard is a costly budget item that often gets overlooked. 

10. Site protection 

Countertops, cabinets, floors and all your finishings need good protection to make it through the whole project. The earlier these items get completed the more time and money you need to allocate to protecting them. 

It is best to be prepared for the reality of these unexpected expenses before you start. While we always try our best to budget everything, It’s important to note that the budget doesn’t always encompass the total cost to build. Some of these items are outside of our control and just a fact of building. 


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