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When performing the work required for home renovations and home additions in Ottawa, there are frequently issues that can arise once the project starts that were not known during the initial design phase and consultation.

The general rule that we try to remember when preparing for a home renovation or addition with our clients is “If we can’t see it, then we can’t budget for it.”

While this may seem obvious, it is important to keep in mind because these unforeseen issues can add up to new costs or delays for the project.

In this post, we will look at some of the unexpected issues that can come up once the on-site work begins for your home renovation or addition project.

Soil Issues

When looking at a home addition, it is essential to understand that this new structure must be supported by the soil it is built on. The soil surrounding the area must hold the weight of the addition and not all soil is able to do so.

Soil inspections are important to determine how much weight can be supported in the area. Excavation can also reveal items that were not known during the initial stages of the project design and planning.

For example, there may be an old buried septic tank in the soil that will need to be removed prior to building.

Old buried wells may also be discovered and would require removal or filling in with concrete to close them off.

The presence of old building materials such as septic tanks, wells or even old foundations means that the soil in the area was previously disturbed by construction. This usually means that it is not as compacted as required to support new foundations and further soil work would need to be done.

One final unforeseen soil issue is the presence of roots from neighbouring trees. Depending on the age of the tree and the location, it is possible that roots can be found in the area where building will take place and these will need to be addressed.


What’s behind your walls? Since we cannot see behind walls until the work starts, it is hard to know what challenges may be found behind them. If the home had previously experienced water leakage or water damage, we may find mold or rot behind the walls.

Insects may also have eaten away at structural elements behind walls, requiring further replacing of support or building materials.

Homes built prior to 1990 may also have the presence of asbestos in the drywall or found in the insulation or other building materials. Holland Homes and Renovations is trained and insured for asbestos removal in residential areas and the removal of this dangerous material is offered as part of our complete services, however we cannot know if asbestos will be found until renovation begins.

Past Renovations

One final challenge during a home renovation is found when past renovation work had been done by previous owners or done improperly. If past renovation work was not done to code, or if structural walls or supports were removed from behind walls, ceilings or floors, these will pose additional delays or costs since they were not expected.

Open-concept renovations are popular today and great for space and the flow of the home. However, if past renovation work led to the removal of structural or support walls, this can pose a challenge for current work if these walls were structurally important to the home.