How Much Does It Cost to Renovate a House?

Kristin Calvert
Kristin Calvert
Property Engineer
Jun 18, 2024
How Much Does It Cost to Renovate a House?

If you've been a homeowner for a decade or longer, it's likely that the idea of making upgrades to your home has crossed your mind at some point. Maybe you purchased a home that needed some fixing up and now you're eager to tackle some much needed renovations. Renovations can bring a fresh perspective to your living area, enhance your home's functionality, and boost its overall value. The downside? The price tag that normally comes with it.

Understanding the factors that influence renovation costs will help you budget properly and narrow down which areas to focus on to achieve your desired outcomes. Let’s explore the average costs of renovating a house, break down expenses by room and project type, and look at valuable tips for managing your renovation budget in the smartest way possible.

Factors Influencing Renovation Costs

  1. Home Size
    Your home's square footage plays a role in determining overall renovation costs. Larger homes generally require more materials, labor, and time, leading to higher overall expenses.
  1. Scope of the Project
    The extent of the renovations needed will impact costs. Minor renovations, like painting or updating fixtures, are typically more affordable than major projects like a full home remodel or structural changes.
  1. Location
    Where you live also plays a role in determining labor costs, material prices, and permit fees. Renovations in urban areas tend to be more expensive than in rural areas due to limited access and logistics, property values, regulatory expenses, and more.
  1. Quality of Materials
    The choice of materials can also affect your renovation project's cost. High-end materials like premium hardwood flooring, custom cabinetry, and luxury finishes will be more expensive than standard options.
  1. Labor Costs
    Contractor fees and labor rates vary based on location, expertise, and the complexity of the project. Hiring experienced professionals may cost more upfront but can ensure high-quality workmanship and adherence to building codes.

Average Renovation Costs by Room

When considering a home makeover, each room presents its own set of challenges and costs. Here’s a breakdown of what you might expect to spend, depending on which space you’re transforming.

Kitchen Renovation The heart of the home, the kitchen, often sees the most dramatic makeovers—and the most varied costs. Renovating this space can set you back anywhere from $15,000 to over $50,000. And, for those dreaming big, including structural modifications and opting for high-end appliances or cabinetry, the budget could balloon to over $100,000. Yes, creating your dream kitchen can be pricey, but it's also a chance to craft a space that truly reflects your unique style.

Bathroom Renovation Next up, the bathroom. This personal retreat can cost between $5,000 and $25,000 to renovate. If you're envisioning something a bit more luxurious or customized, prepare for costs that could exceed $50,000. The final tally here will hinge on the size of your bathroom, the materials you select, the fixtures you fancy, and the extent of the plumbing work needed.

Living Room Renovation Moving to the living room, our space to gather and unwind, expenses can range from $5,000 to over $30,000. The scope of your project could include new flooring, a fresh coat of paint, custom-built shelving, or even significant structural changes like adding or removing walls. Each choice you make influences the overall cost and transforms the room's ambiance.

Bedroom Renovation Refreshing a bedroom might cost anywhere from about $3,000 to over $15,000. Your expenses will depend largely on the room's size and the nature of the updates—whether that's cosmetic tweaks or more substantial structural changes.

Basement Renovation Finally, let's talk about the basement—a space often forgotten that usually could use some love and attention. Renovating here typically ranges from $20,000 to $50,000, but it can climb even higher. Factors like waterproofing, insulation, and necessary updates to electrical and plumbing systems play a role, as do your aesthetic preferences.

Breaking Down the Expenses of Home Renovation Projects 

Breaking down the expenses of home renovation projects can feel like deciphering a complex code—especially when every decision you make could significantly impact your budget. Let's dive into what you might spend on various aspects of a home makeover, so you’re not surprised once you begin. 

Getting Rid of Old Structures 

Ever wonder what it costs to get rid of that old shed or tear down outdated interior walls? The price tag can swing dramatically, ranging from a modest few hundred dollars to several thousand. Much depends on the size and complexity of what you’re removing. So, if you're planning a major clear-out, brace yourself for a potentially hefty bill!

Making Structural Changes 

Now, let's talk about the big moves—like knocking down walls to create that open-plan living space you've been dreaming of. This isn't just about physical transformation; it's about ensuring everything's up to code. Costs here can vary wildly, usually falling somewhere between $5,000 and $20,000, sometimes even more. Factors like the need for permits and the complexity of the job (think load-bearing walls!) play a huge role in the final cost.

Electrical and Plumbing Work 

Upgrading what’s behind the walls of your home—that is, its electrical and plumbing systems—is no small feat. Depending on what you need, whether it's modernizing old wiring or fitting new plumbing, expenses could range from $2,000 to well over $10,000. The scope of your project and any unexpected surprises hiding in your walls (hello, old plumbing!) will dictate the final bill.

Flooring and Wall Upgrades 

Choosing the right ground to walk on and the walls that surround you can also vary significantly in cost. Are you a fan of hardwood floors? That’ll be about $5 to $15 per square foot. Prefer tile or carpet? Prices usually hover between $2 and $10 per square foot. And don’t forget the walls! Adding new drywall, stylish paneling, or some chic wallpaper can add several thousand dollars to your total, depending on your taste and the materials’ quality.

Choosing Fixtures and Finishes Last but not least, the finishing touches—those fixtures and finishes that can truly make a space feel like yours. From sleek cabinetry and gleaming countertops to the perfect lighting fixtures and state-of-the-art appliances, these details can be where your budget stretches the thinnest. Going for high-end, custom options? You might be looking at adding tens of thousands of dollars to your renovation expenses.

Navigating the costs of home renovation requires a careful eye and a clear understanding of what each step entails. With the right planning, you can transform your space without breaking the bank.

The Costs You Might Overlook in Home Renovations

Home renovations can sometimes reveal surprises that stretch your budget further than you might have anticipated. Here's a look at some of the costs that are easy to overlook but important to consider:

Permits and Inspections - Before you start knocking down walls or rewiring rooms, remember that your project might need permits and inspections. Depending on what you're planning and the regulations in your area, these can add a few hundred to several thousand dollars to your renovation budget. It’s essential to factor these in early to avoid any unexpected hiccups.

Unexpected Structural Problems - Renovations often come with their fair share of surprises, like discovering decay, mold, or foundational issues once you peel back the layers of your home. These types of findings can significantly drive up costs as they require immediate attention to ensure the safety and stability of your property.

Meeting Building Codes - Upgrading your home isn’t just about aesthetics and functionality it also involves compliance. If your house isn't up to current building codes, you may need to update elements like insulation, electrical systems, or safety features. These upgrades are non-negotiable and can lead to significant additional expenses, often running into thousands of dollars.

Surprise Repairs - Imagine peeling off old wallpaper or tearing up carpeting only to find unexpected damage that needs repairing. Whether it's water damage behind bathroom tiles or worn-out wiring that needs replacing, these hidden problems can emerge during renovations, leading to unanticipated repair costs.

Planning for these potential expenses can help keep your renovation project on track and within budget. Always allocate a contingency fund in your budget for these often inevitable surprises, ensuring your project finishes to your satisfaction without straining your finances.

Managing Your Renovation Budget Wisely

  1. Budget: Establish a thorough budget that covers all expected costs, including materials, labor, permits, and a safety net for unforeseen expenses. It's advisable to set aside an extra 10% to 20% for unexpected costs.
  2. Choose wisely: Choose reputable and licensed contractors with relevant experience in your renovation project. Obtain multiple quotes to compare prices, but remember not to compromise quality for the sake of a lower bid.
  3. DIY vs professional: Evaluate your skills and the complexity of the project to determine what tasks you can handle on your own versus those that require professional assistance. While DIY projects can save on labor costs, hiring professionals ensures high-quality workmanship and compliance with regulations.
  4. Funding: Look into various financing options like home equity loans, personal loans, or credit cards to finance your renovation endeavor. Compare interest rates and terms to find the most suitable option for your financial situation.
  5. Repurpose: Think about repurposing or reusing existing materials such as cabinets, fixtures, or architectural elements to cut down on expenses.
  6. Prioritize: Prioritize key aspects of your renovation project and allocate funds accordingly. 

Renovation Cost by Home Size

When planning a renovation, the size of your home plays a pivotal role in determining the budget. Let's break down what you might expect to spend based on the square footage of your living space:

Small Homes (under 1,500 square feet) In a cozy, compact home, renovations can still pack a punch in terms of cost. For basic updates like a new kitchen or a refreshed bathroom, budgets typically range from $20,000 to $80,000. However, if you’re considering more comprehensive changes—perhaps reimagining the entire layout or updating all major systems—you could be looking at expenses that soar beyond $100,000.

Medium Homes (1,500 to 3,000 square feet) Owners of medium-sized homes should prepare for a broader range of renovation costs. With more space to cover, you might spend anywhere from $50,000 to $150,000 or even more. The final cost often hinges on how deep you dive into renovations and the quality of materials you choose. Whether you're gutting the kitchen, adding a bathroom, or overhauling all the finishes, each choice influences your budget.

Large Homes (over 3,000 square feet) Stepping into large home territory, the scale—and price—of renovations can escalate quickly. For these expansive properties, it’s not unusual for renovation costs to exceed $200,000. This is especially true if your plans include significant structural modifications, luxury finishes, or extensive updates across several rooms or floors. Large homes offer more space to transform but require a hefty investment to bring those transformations to life.

Understanding these costs relative to home size can guide your planning and help you set realistic expectations for your renovation project. Remember, a well-planned budget is key to a successful home makeover, no matter the size of your canvas.

Common Questions About Remodeling Your Home

Let’s tackle some of the most common inquiries, with a sprinkle of advice to make your renovation journey as smooth as possible.

What’s the typical price per square foot for a home remodel? Ah, the burning question on every homeowner’s mind! The cost per square foot for a basic renovation swings between $50 and $200. This variance hinges on factors like the scope of your project and the materials you choose. Planning something more lavish? You might see prices climb to as much as $300 per square foot. It's like picking a car; options and upgrades can push the price from modest to luxury.

How long does a regular home renovation take? Time frames in renovation land can vary as much as costs. For smaller projects, you might be looking at just a few weeks. However, more ambitious undertakings—think full-scale additions or gutting major parts of your house—can stretch out for several months. 

Is it more economical to renovate or build anew? This is a tricky one. Renovating your existing home often edges out building a new one in terms of cost-effectiveness, particularly if the bones of your house are in good shape. However, if you’re facing a laundry list of structural issues, or if renovations are extensive, constructing a new home might suddenly look appealing. It’s a bit like deciding whether to fix up an old car or buy a new one—both options have their perks.

Is it advisable to vacate during a home renovation? If you’re just repainting the bedroom or updating fixtures, staying put is perfectly fine. But for major renovations? Consider moving out. Large-scale projects can disrupt your daily routine and pose safety concerns. Plus, contractors can work more efficiently without working around your family’s schedule. Yes, it might mean shelling out for temporary housing, but the speed and ease it brings to your renovation could be well worth the investment.

How can you cut costs on a home improvement project? Who doesn’t want to save some money? If you’re handy, taking on some DIY tasks can shave costs. Choosing more affordable materials, prioritizing essential renovations, and keeping an eagle eye out for sales on supplies also help keep your budget in check. And let’s not forget about planning—meticulous budgeting with a cushion for unexpected expenses can prevent financial blowouts.

Renovating isn’t just about wanting nicer surroundings, it’s about boosting functionality, enhancing beauty, and possibly ramping up your home’s market value. With a solid grasp of the costs involved, an understanding of how to manage them, and a good strategy in place, you can get started on your next big renovation project ready to tackle any challenges at may arise.

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Kristin Calvert
Kristin Calvert
Property Engineer
Jun 18, 2024

Having recently relocated to California after successfully selling her design firm focused on investor renovations and home staging in Detroit, Kristin Calvert brings over 15 years of experience as an entrepreneur, realtor, and interior designer. She has built strong relationships with homeowners, real estate agents, and contractors throughout her career. Kristin is skilled in time and project management, team leadership, and client relations. She is excited to bring her skills and passion for creating beautiful, functional spaces to new opportunities in California.

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