The Most Expensive Thing Ever

Everything costs something but there are some things that can be more expensive then others.

It begs the question what is the most expensive cost on a home renovation or custom build project?

Well the debate can often be centered on the kitchen, the windows or maybe even the floor finishes. We could entertain a vote for light fixtures or audiovisual appliances as candidates as the most expensive as well. But, at the end of the day, generally each of these items brings value and pleasure to the homeowner and the cost of such items are offset by the value that they deliver.

I would argue the most expensive item in he the construction process is by far an item called the “changing of the mind”. The cost of “changing of the mind” is not only expensive but it can also be less overt then the price tag of the premium windows or the special cabinetry in the kitchen you always wanted.  You don’t always see the full costing for “changing of the mind” but it is there and it can be very expensive in more ways then one.

Recently after a rigorous design process, drafting of construction drawings, building and framing of the infrastructure, walls installed and with a plumber on site, it was at this point the client decided the wanted to change the bathroom layout.

The work that had to be redone, the plumbers’ time and all the effort in design and layout of the original layout (which was approved and signed off), construction of walls was deemed worthless with the “change of the mind’.

Benefit to the customer for all of the expense of the initial layout and construction was zero.

The first bathroom was beautiful. The redesigned bathroom was beautiful. It unfortunately cost twice as much as it should.  We always need to remember that the costs of “changing of the mind” are much lower in the brief then they are on the construction site.


You can never eliminate the cost of changing of the mind but it can be managed by taking care and discipline in the decision making process as early as possible. New three-dimensional modelling as well as a complete “sample review” will make the decision making process less guesswork and more informed.

The first question we often get from a customer is “ how much is it going to cost?”

We are always tempted to answer the question with “it depends” and that is never a satisfactory response. Should the next question from the builder be ”do we include the most expensive item in the equation, “changing of the mind” or not?”

Costs can be managed with a thoughtful design process, disciplined decision-making and clear understanding that the “last minute” changes have a huge cost impact, not only on the materials involved but on labour as well. And the cost implications do not end there, as costs rise with the rescheduling of trades and their corresponding costs of unavailability due to conflicting obligations.

You may lose an excellent carpenter or painter due to last minute changes that has thrown the schedule off kilter and those costs will live with the job forever.

Be careful to manage the most expensive item on the agenda…”changing of the mind”!

Marty RudmanComment