As Graham Builders vice president of operations, Ryan Graham has seen many situations in which hidden construction costs catch homeowners completely off-guard, delaying projects and sometimes derailing them completely.

“Building or renovating a house involves more than just the obvious costs, like materials and labor,” he says. “It’s really important to account for all potential expenses before diving in.”

Permitting and fees: Obtaining permits and paying fees for design, engineering, surveys and utilities can add up quickly.

TIP: Ask your builder for a list of pre-construction fees. Experienced builders can anticipate them and provide a rough estimate of their total.

FYI: “Graham Builders provides each client with a detailed list of fees, relative to the scope of work, that they will incur prior to any design or construction,” Graham says.

Rental property/storage: If you’re planning a major remodel or new build, you’ll probably need to include the cost of a rental home in your budget.


“Some homeowners want to stay in their homes during major remodels, not realizing how challenging that can be,” says Graham. “If you’re doing a kitchen or bath remodel, how will you cook and clean for your family?”

TIP: Graham recommends discussing your plans with your contractor before starting your project. Research storage facilities for furnishings you won’t need. Start looking for rental properties early, at least six months before your project begins, and obtain a construction schedule from your builder to determine the length of your lease.

FYI: Graham Builders works with realtors who have experience assisting clients with short-term rentals.

Unexpected costs/hidden defects: During remodels or additions, hidden issues like water and termite damage, antiquated wiring and corroded plumbing could add significant costs to your project.

“Some repairs require multiple trades,” Graham says. “For example, replacing old electrical wiring requires drywall removal and replacement, light fixture replacement and painting.”

TIP: Create a contingency fund that’s not part of your total construction budget. Ask your contractor about potential hidden costs and a reasonable amount for the fund, relative to the age and condition of your home, and the scope of work.

FYI: As standard practice, the Graham Builders team always carefully inspects and accounts for the condition of each home it remodels, and advises clients of appropriate contingency allowances for potential hidden defects.

Financing costs: Financing for a new construction project often comes with additional costs like closing costs, origination fees and appraisal fees.

TIP: Explore your financing options. Find a mortgage broker who will provide multiple lending options.

FYI: Graham Builders works with a mortgage broker that provides financing for its clients.

“It’s essential to consider all the potential hidden costs before starting your project to ensure that there are no surprises along the way,” concludes Graham. “An experienced firm that anticipates these costs on your behalf can save you thousands of dollars in the long run.”


Honolulu design/build company Graham Builders is the recipient of the Better Business Bureau of Hawaii Torch Award for ethics in small business. Learn more about the basics of home remodeling and rebuilding at Graham Builders’ free Building Your Home for Life seminar from 9 to 11 a.m. on June 3. For information and registration, visit or call 808-593-2808.

CONTACT 808-593-2808