Don’t let a simple renovation fool you. Even a tiny job can set off an explosive chain of events that wreak havoc with your home and your budget.
Let’s explore what the domino effect means for your home, and how you avoid it in your next renovation.
What is the Renovation Domino Effect?
The domino effect refers to how a small decision or task can have far-reaching effects. It earns its name from falling domino patterns.
Have you ever seen domino art or domino installations? Think about how a single flick of your finger against the first tile in a row of dominos has the power to knock over every tile in formation.
When applied to your renovation, the domino effect involves how starting the first step of a project can set off a chain reaction, adding more chores and costs to your plate.
In many ways, it’s similar to the butterfly effect. A single flap of a butterfly’s wings can cause a hurricane on the other side of the world.
Is it the Same as Scope Creep?
The domino effect has a lot in common with scope creep, a term contractors use to describe when a project steadily grows after you start the work.
Sometimes, this creep happens because you change your mind at different stages of the job. Other times, flexibility might be necessary as you unearth unexpected structural problems the further you get into your project.
Take, for example, the decision to upgrade a bathroom by replacing the tub-shower fixture with a separate claw foot tub and walk-in shower. Let’s look at how the domino effect can affect this job:
Involuntary Scope Creep
An example of voluntary scope creep is when you decide to install heated flooring halfway through the project. Besides costing more than a typical floor, electric floor-heating systems increase the height of your floor, which can throw off measurements for the rest of your plans.
Creep in this scenario is more than just the addition of the heating system. It involves all the changes you have to make to other fixtures to accommodate a taller floor. While this difference in height may only measure in inches, it can have a big impact on your entire project.
Unavoidable Scope Creep
Unavoidable scope happens when you get halfway through tearing down the original tub fixture to find out you have a severe black mold problem. Now you have to include mold removal in your plans before you can carry on with your project.
Most homeowners can remove small patches of mold on their own. But for sprawling growth that has damaged flooring and walls, you need to call in the professionals. Removal might cost anywhere between $1,500 and $9,000.
How to Prepare Your Budget
Domino effect or scope creep — no matter what you call it, a plan that gets more complicated and expensive is common for renovations. That’s why most contractors recommend you increase your budget by as much as 15% over your calculations.
You might never need this extra 15%. In fact, that’s ideal. However, it provides a safety net in case something goes wrong. You can dip into this cushion to cover costs that balloon beyond your initial calculations.
Of course, some jobs can exceed even your cautious 15% cushion. In those situations, some homeowners turn to a line of credit or installment loan as a secondary safety net. These emergency loans are simple and convenient to find online, and you can make short work of their quick applications.
What are emergency loans used for? Consider them a safety net for unavoidable scope creep, but leave them out of your plans for involuntary creep.
Why? Because borrowing money adds to your costs, so you shouldn’t take out a line of credit or installment loan unless you have to.
How Can You Safely Use Emergency Loans?
When it comes to your home, you can easily lose track of the big picture. You’re so close to the project that you might not see the difference between unavoidable and involuntary creep. Without this clarity, you can take out a loan online when it’s not necessary.
So, let’s return to the example of the bathroom to explore how emergency loans fit into the two scope creep categories:
Cosmetic upgrades, like a heated floor, are nice to have but are totally unnecessary. You can easily skip this expense to finish your project on budget. Forced air or radiators will keep this room warm during the winter.
Mold, on the other hand, can be a dangerous problem. You need to remove it before you move on with your project — even if you don’t have the money. If your cushion falls short of what you need for this unanticipated work, you may find emergency loans can help you move on with your project.
Recognizing domino effect is half the battle. Now that you know that projects often grow in scope and cost, you can build a better budget that’s ready for anything.
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