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How to Determine the Cost to Remodel a House

Looking to start remodeling your home? Here are some tips that can help you stay on budget.

[Updated: Mar 04, 2021 ] Apr 05, 2020 by Ogechukwu Madu
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You may be wondering, How much is it going to cost me to remodel my house? First, it's important to understand that nowadays, most people use the terms remodel and renovate interchangeably. Here are clear definitions of what each term means:

  • Remodel: to change the structure or form of something.
  • Renovate: to restore (something old, especially a building) to a good state of repair.

As you can see, there is a difference between these two terms. Basically, remodeling refers to creating something new while renovating refers to restoring something to its previous state.

Now that you have a pretty good understanding of the difference between the two terms, here are four things to take into consideration when figuring out how much it is going to cost to remodel your home.

Why do you want to remodel?

It's important to understand why you are wanting to do work on your home. For some people, a house they're thinking of buying may be ideally located but, unfortunately, outdated. In this instance, it may be better to get the home for cheap and remodel the home to your liking once you own the home.

Some people already own the home and are at a place where they need to fix certain safety issues so that they may continue to live there comfortably. Unfortunate events such as foundation issues, roof leaks, or a pipe bursting in the kitchen can speed up the timeline on tackling certain projects around the home.

Others are at a point where they need to sell their home. Your Realtor may have told you it would be best to do certain updates to maximize the value you would be able to sell your house at, so now you are on the hunt to find which upgraded areas of your home would give you the best return on investment.

What do you want to remodel?

Now that you have an understanding of the reason you are wanting to do a remodel, now it's time to outline what you want to accomplish.

You should first prioritize any major items that need to be fixed. You don't want to put a bandage on work that should be resolved by fixing the root of the problem. An example would be if you notice there is mold on the ceiling. The bandage would be to replace the wallboard where the mold is and call it a day. What you really should do is identify and repair the source of the mold (e.g., a leaky pipe or poor bathroom ventilation) so the issue won't arise again.

Make sure you have a list of everything you want to tackle during this remodel. This will help you separate everything you think needs to be done from what really has to be done. This method will also help when it comes to budgeting the cost of the total project.

The most common areas of a home that people are looking to improve are the:

Broken down even further, the most common types of improvements are:

Define the scope of your remodel

There are a few ways you might choose to tackle your remodel. Ask yourself these questions to determine which way you should go:

  • Are you a handy individual who can do work around the house?
  • Do you have friends willing to help out?
  • Are you going to have to subcontract most of the work out, which tends to get expensive but if done right may be the better and quicker option?

No matter how you're planning on going about it, it might be a good idea to have people come in and present quotes for how much certain types of projects would cost.

Vetting subcontractors

When vetting a subcontractor, look at past remodeling products, make sure they are licensed and insured, understand what all is included in their quote, and last but not least, find out how long it will take them to complete the job.

So how much should you spend remodeling your home?

As always, the answer is "It depends." It depends on the square footage of the home and whether you're adding more square footage, the type of quality the remodel will be, and the type of permitting required by the city, especially if you own a home that is considered historic, and whether you will be doing a complete renovation of the entire building or just redoing the kitchen.

Regardless of the plan, you are going to want to have prepared a budget. Be sure to add contingency on top of that, because things never go as planned.

You can break down your remodel project by room to get an average cost range. Here is a helpful starting point from HomeAdvisor (NASDAQ: ANGI):

Area to Remodel Cost
Exterior $5,000-$15,000
Kitchen $4,500-$50,000
Bathroom $6,000-$35,000
Living room or bedroom $1,500-$5,500
Basement $11,000-$30,000
Roof $5,500-$10,500
Total house $33,500-$150,000

Source: HomeAdvisor

When it comes down to the cost to remodel, as you can see from the list above, the kitchen and bathroom are usually the bigger expenses that consume most of the budget with any remodel. If you're looking to maximize your dollars for reselling purposes, keep two things in mind: one – don't go over the top with your remodel. You run the risk of pricing yourself out of a quicker sale by adding things that are upscale if the majority of your home is not similar.

If you're going for a mid-grade remodel or an upscale remodel, you can expect on average to spend anywhere from $10 to $60 per square foot for the mid-grade and even up to $150 per square foot for the upscale upgrade.

The following is what I consider a small-scale, mid-grade, and upscale upgrade:

A small-scale rehab would involve upgrading things like trim, paint, and lighting.

A mid-grade rehab would be upgrading items like appliances, flooring, cabinets, and countertops.

An upscale remodel would entail upgrading the quality of items, like installing marble countertops, replacing laminate flooring with hardwood, and upgrading from builder-grade to custom cabinets.

Kitchen remodel breakdown

A pro tip most industry professionals recommend is that you should not spend more than 15% of the home's value in the kitchen. So if your house is worth $200,000 and you're looking to do a renovation project, your house renovation cost budget for the kitchen should be no more than $30,000.

According to the National Kitchen & Bath Association, here is a breakdown of a kitchen renovation budget:

Project Average Cost (As a % of Total)
Kitchen Cabinets & Hardware 30%
Installation 17%
Appliances 14%
Countertops 10%
Flooring 7%
Lighting 5%
Walls & Ceilings 5%
Design & Engineering Fees 4%
Doors & Windows 4%
Plumbing 4%

Source: National Kitchen & Bath Association

The types of material you use also play a huge factor in final costs. For example, when figuring out how much to spend on cabinets, a minor kitchen remodel with stock cabinetry can cost you up to $400, while higher-end refinished cabinets may cost you up to $3,500. In regard to counter tops, laminate can cost you up to $2,000 while stone could cost up to $7,000.

Bathroom remodeling cost

The cost to remodel a bathroom has a wide range of prices, depending on the caliber of the counters, cabinets, and fixtures you decide to use. Below you will find the higher end of the range for a bathroom renovation, depending on the finishing grade.

Project Low Range Mid-Grade High End
Bathtub $400 $4,100 $8,000
Cabinets $1,200 $7,000 $13,000
Countertops $900 $4,100 $6,500
Flooring $800 $3,600 $7,000
Lighting Fixtures $120 $1,700 $4,000
Shower $450 $4,800 $10,000
Sink $190 $2,300 $6,500
Toilet $130 $500 $800
Total $4,190 $28,100 $55,800

Source: HomeAdvisor

Living room and bedroom remodeling costs

The living and bedroom areas are where you would not have to overspend if you were on a budget (unless you're doing some additions, like adding a walk-in closet). Most rooms just need flooring updates and repainted walls, costs for which can range from $1,500 to $5,500.

Final thoughts

The cost to do improvement projects to your home varies based on a multitude of factors, but how much you decide to spend on a renovation should be in relation to comparable home values in your neighborhood. A great tip to remember is you want to get back up to 80% of the value when you sell. If you have zero experience doing remodeling projects, it would be wise to talk to a home designer or a general contractor to get an idea of estimated renovation costs.

If you keep these tips in mind, you should be in great shape to get started with your next home remodel.

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