But, real life is rarely like reality TV. Home remodels can sometimes be complicated, and costly. Coming up with a budget beforehand could help avoid the headaches and hard choices that can crop up down the line.
Ready to start calculating a potential dream home remodel? Turn off the home renovation show, grab a calculator, and read on.
There’s no one “magic number” a person can bank on when it comes to the cost of a home renovation. However, there are several factors that a homeowner can take into account when budgeting for a home remodel: high-end vs low-end, type of home, and rooms renovated.
Factors of a Home Remodel Cost
High-end Versus Low-end Renovation
A renovation of a 2,500 square foot home could cost anywhere between $25,000 and $150,000 on average. The variation in price stems mostly from the scale of the projects. According to HomeAdvisor, a homeowner can expect to generally complete the following within each budget range:
• Low-end ($15,000-$45,000). A renovation of this size would include small changes, such as new paint and fresh landscaping. It might also include inexpensive finishes, such as new counters and flooring. • Middle-end ($46,000-$70,000). In addition to the low-end projects, a middle-end home renovation includes full room remodels, like a bathroom and kitchen, as well as a higher quality flooring than the low-end renovation. • High-end ($71,000-$200,000). A high-end budget would include the low- and middle-end projects, as well as high-quality finishes including custom cabinetry and new appliances. It might also include improvements to the foundation, HVAC, plumbing, and electrical.
As a homeowner begins to identify what rooms they want to upgrade and to what extent, they will begin to customize their renovation budget. Just one in five homeowners finish renovations under budget, so it’s recommended to pad estimates in the event of unexpected costs.
Type and Age of Home
Older homes will typically need more TLC during the renovation process. Once walls and floors are opened up, a homeowner might realize the wiring and plumbing is outdated and should be brought up to code.
While a person’s home won’t be unsellable if everything isn’t up to code, there could be issues with financing because generally lenders will not close on a home where health and safety issues are identified.
People may decide that adhering to building standards ensures the work is up to code and that it’s a safe renovation. That can involve time, money, and work. That is why sometimes older homes can involve more work than the average renovation.
If a person’s home is old enough to be considered “historic” in their town or community, they’ll want to be careful about the changes they make. Depending on where a person lives, they’ll likely need to adhere to their city’s guidelines to make sure their home still falls into the “historic“ categorization, even after a remodel.
Designated historic properties in states like Connecticut could boost a home’s value between 4% and 19%, on average.
Depending upon the condition of the home and any past upgrades, a home’s age can have an impact on the cost of renovation, but so too can the type of home, regardless of age.
HomeAdvisor estimates that Victorian homes generally cost the most to renovate per square foot, up to $200 and that farmhouses and townhouses tend to have the lowest cost per square foot, between $10-$35.
Typical Renovation Costs by Room
For many homeowners, a dream renovation would cover every inch of the home, but for the budget-conscious, that might not be possible.
When it comes to renovation expenses, generally, not every room is created equally. Rooms with cabinets and appliances tend to be the priciest—think bathrooms and kitchens.
The typical range for the cost of remodeling a kitchen comes in between $13,052-$30,702, but kitchens can have the most variation when it comes to cost, depending on finishes, appliances, and projects.
Here’s what a homeowner could expect to overhaul in a kitchen based on the budget range :
• Low-end ($5,000-$30,000). New lighting, faucet, coat of paint, refreshed trim, and a new but budget-friendly sink backsplash. This also might include knocking down walls or a counter extension project. • Middle-end ($30,000-$60,000). This budget could include new appliances, floors, and tiled backsplash to the sink. It might also include new cabinets and mid-range priced countertops. • High-end ($65,000+). When the budget expands for a kitchen, the projects start to take on custom finishes. A high-end budget would likely include custom cabinets, high-end countertops like stone or granite, and expensive appliances. Other projects might include new lighting, hardwood flooring, and new faucet fixtures.
Because a kitchen can be so customizable and include so many levels of finishes, the budget could fluctuate greatly.
For example, new cabinets in a bathroom can account for up to 30% of the budget. Other big-ticket items come in a range of prices based on low-end versus high-end finishes.
On the low-end, a new bathtub might cost just $400, but if a homeowner is looking for a high-end tub, they could pay upwards of $8,000. The final cost will likely hinge on the homeowner’s decision on the budget range.
Bedroom and Living Room Remodel
Budgeting a bedroom remodel can be a little more cut and dry since it generally doesn’t include as many costly fixtures as a person might find in the bathroom or kitchen. A homeowner can expect to tackle a bedroom for about $7,880, on average.
This typically includes new carpet, windows, door, and refreshed molding. It might also include new heating, insulation, and updated wiring and lighting. But this budget doesn’t account for new furnishings in the bedroom, like a bed or wardrobe.
Remodeling a master suite could cost a bit more since it typically includes a bathroom and bedroom renovation. If a homeowner wants to add or expand a closet in the master suite, they can estimate adding around $1,500 to $2,000 to the room’s budget, on top of the bathroom and bedroom.
A living room remodel can cost between $1,500-$5,500, on average. Like the bedroom, living rooms tend to lack the “wet” features, plumbing, and appliances, that can drive up the cost of the bathroom and kitchen.
If a living room has a fireplace feature, homeowners can expect to spend a bit more. Looking to add a fireplace? That could add at least $2,000 to the room.
Of course, depending on the degree to which each room is remodeled, the estimates could vary. DIY-ing projects in various rooms could also help bring down the budget.
Other Remodel Considerations
A remodel isn’t just financial spreadsheets. There are other considerations a homeowner may want to consider before taking a sledgehammer to a room.
A renovation could take anywhere from a few days to a few months, so a homeowner may want to plan their timeline accordingly. It might be tempting to duck out of town when big projects are underway, but staying around means the homeowner could monitor projects and provide answers if any unexpected issues arise.
Additionally, renovations can be stressful and might be best scheduled around other big life events. For example, homeowners might think twice about a full home remodel that coincides with nuptials, or a baby on the way. Of course, unexpected events could arise, but there may be no need to pile on projects when so much is going on.
Who Is the Renovation for?
Before diving deep into plans, homeowners may want to consider who the renovation is for. Is it for the homeowner to enjoy decades from now, or is it to make the house more marketable for a future sale? The renovation could take a different shape depending on a homeowner’s answer.
If the remodel is just for the homeowner, then they might choose fixtures based on personal taste, or might decide to splurge on high-end bathroom features that they’ll enjoy for years.
On the other hand, if the homeowner plans to sell within a few years, they may consider tackling projects that have the greatest return on investment (ROI). That could mean prioritizing projects like a kitchen update or bathroom remodel.
Delays and Unforeseen Expenses
Homeowners might expect the unexpected when undergoing a remodel. Unexpected delays could extend the timeline, or emergency expenses could drive a project over budget.
As a general rule of thumb, it is recommended for homeowners to pad their budget by at least 10% for emergencies or unexpected costs.
Financing a Remodel
Coming up with the capital to finance a remodel can be daunting enough to make some homeowners abandon the whole process. However, there are multiple avenues homeowners can explore to start the remodel of their dreams.
Out of Pocket
Homeowners who take on small renovations and have liquid savings might decide to pay for everything out of pocket. This means no debt or interest rates to contend with.
However, paying cash for a large project can be challenging for some, and might lead to cutting corners on important elements in an effort to keep costs down. Plus, unexpected emergency costs could drive the homeowner into unexpected debt.
Out of pocket is possible for some homeowners, but it’s not the only way to pay for a remodel.
From Friends or Family
Another alternative is to borrow money from family members or friends. While this saves homeowners from having to deal with loan applications and approvals and potentially provides more flexible terms, it can come with its own share of issues, such as risking the relationship if the borrower is unable to pay back the lender (in this case, family or friends).
Homeowners may want to carefully consider the effect of borrowing money for a remodel might have on a relationship, and make sure there are plans in place in case the money can’t be repaid.
Additionally, loans from family members may be considered gifts by the IRS and may be taxable), so it’s best to discuss with a tax professional before proceeding.