8 building expenses that are often overlooked



Construction is a messy process and surprises are bound to come up along the way, so it is best to be prepared for the reality of these unexpected expenses before you start. While we at ESTATA always do our best to plan for everything, it’s important to note that the budget doesn’t always encompass the total cost to build your new home. Some of these items are outside of our control, and that’s just a fact of building. Here are the most common items that we regularly see overlooked, underestimated, or go over budget.


 1. Added Site Surveying

While the initial site survey may have already been completed as part the initial design drawings, there are usually extra surveying costs. There are height checks that happen after each floor completed, after the roof goes on, and whenever there is concern that we might be over-height or under-height. There is also the final survey for your RPR (Real Property Report) that needs to be completed before you finally move in and take occupancy. If landscaping is done at a later date, then fences, decks, and other outdoor structures 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 will need to be made 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. Engineers are frequently needed to provide documentation, provide on-site consultations to the builder, and assist in resolving issues that arise unexpectedly. We often see this line item underestimated or ignored when the budget is first made.


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 up front 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Typically ATCO or ENMAX do not quote your disconnection costs until you have already broke ground on your project. The fees they charge for their services are highly dependent on the specific site conditions, such as 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. Temporary Power, Gas and Fuel for Heaters

During the winter months, builders need to run heaters which 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 can add up quickly. This is rarely included in the budget, but these expenses are necessary to ensure that 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 insurance policy. This will either be the homeowner’s responsibility or the builder’s, but either way the 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 add to the 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 for really depends on how quickly the project progresses.