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- 19 Ways to Save on Your Home Remodel
- 1. Increase Efficiency, Not Size
- 2. Bring in Natural Light Without Adding Windows
- 3. Hit the Recycling Center
- 4. Donate your Trash
- 5. Do Your Own Demo
- 6. Consider Long-Term Costs, Not Just Short-Term Gains
- 7. Tap Your Contractor’s Sources
- 8. Consult an Architect
- 9. Partner With a Contractor
- 10. Make Sweat Equity Count
- 11. Do Your Own Schlepping
- 12. Don’t Overspend on Wall Prep
- 13. Consider Look-Alikes
- 14. Wait Until Contractors Want Your Business
- 15. Skip the Foundation
- 16. Don’t Move the Kitchen Sink
- 17. Plan with Stock Sizes in Mind
- 18. Buy Building Supplies at Auction
- 19. Make Decisions Early
- Garage Remodeling Costs
- Credit Cards
- Remodel House Into An Entryway
- Permitting costs
- Do I Need a Home Renovation?
- Make Your Home More Comfortable and Aesthetically Pleasing
- Boost Your Home’s Value
- Enhance Safety and Improve Accessibility
- Increase Efficiency
- Fix Existing Damage
- You’re Selling Your Home
- Watch the Real Homes Show for more home improvement advice
- Return On Investment For Top Renovations
- Home renovation cost estimator
- Average remodel cost per square foot
- Whole house renovation cost
- House refurbishment cost by bedrooms
- Full house renovation costs by home type
- Other home remodeling ideas
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19 Ways to Save on Your Home Remodel
If you’ve weighed your options, and have decided it’s better to remodel your home, here are our tips.
1. Increase Efficiency, Not Size
If you can reorganize and equip your kitchen for maximum utility, you may not need to blow out the walls to gain square footage. Start by replacing space-hogging shelves with cabinet-height pullout drawers 8 inches wide, containing racks for canned goods and other items.
“You’re getting three or more horizontal planes where you might otherwise get only one,” says Louis Smith Jr., an architect with Meier Group, in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
You could easily shell out a few thousand to outfit cabinets with upgrades like dividers, pull-out pot trays, and lazy Susans, but you’ll save many times that amount by skipping the addition you thought you needed.
- Cost to expand kitchen by 200 square feet: $48,000 to $95,000
- Cost of super-efficient, custom-designed cabinets: $35,000
- Saved: Up to $60,000
2. Bring in Natural Light Without Adding Windows
Before cutting a big hole in the side of your house and rearranging the framing, consider less invasive—and less expensive—ways of capturing light.
To brighten up a windowless bath or hallway, for instance, you can install a “light tube,” which slips between roof rafters and funnels sunshine down into the living space.
- Cost to add a double-pane insulated window: $1,500
- Cost for a light tube: $500
- Saved: $1,000
3. Hit the Recycling Center
Do-it-yourselfers can reap big savings with recycled or lightly used fixtures and building materials. Habitat for Humanity operates about 400 ReStores nationwide, which offer salvaged materials at half off home-center prices.
One caveat: Many contractors won’t work with salvaged items, or homeowner-supplied materials in general, because they don’t want to assume the liability if something goes wrong.
- Price of 4-by-5-foot insulated window in a home center: $600
- Price at ReStore: $300
- Saved: $300
4. Donate your Trash
Before you begin a remodeling job, invite the local Habitat for Humanity chapter to remove materials and fixtures for later resale. “About 85 percent of a house is reusable,” says B.J. Perkins, Habitat’s ReUse program manager, in Austin, Texas. “We can do a total takedown, or do a cherry-pick job and take the cabinets, the tub, the sink, and so on.”
You save space in the landfill, collect a charitable tax credit for the donation, and help a good cause. Visit Habitat to find an affiliate near you.
- Cost to trash a suite of bathroom fixtures: $50 to $75
- Cost to donate: Nothing, plus you get a tax deduction
- Saved: Space in the landfill (and a little bit of your soul)
5. Do Your Own Demo
Knocking down your home down may not be as costly as rebuilding, you can still shave dollars by doing some of the demolition yourself—as long as you proceed with care.
“If a homeowner wants to demo a deck, well, I am sure they can handle that,” says Michael Winn, owner of Winn Design, in Virginia. “But when it comes to interior spaces, I would dissuade them from doing it unless they have done it before.”
The reason: A reckless wrecker might unwittingly take out a load-bearing wall or, worse still, plunge a reciprocating saw into live wiring or pressurized plumbing.
- Cost to demo a 200-square-foot deck yourself: $450 (Dumpster rental and parking permit)
- Cost for a pro: $1,000
- Saved: $550
6. Consider Long-Term Costs, Not Just Short-Term Gains
If your addition calls for clapboard siding, for instance, you can save more in the long run by ponying up now for the preprimed and prepainted variety. It costs an extra 10 to 20 cents per foot, but “you’ll wind up paying for half as many paint jobs down the road,” says Paul Eldrenkamp, owner of Byggmeister, a design-build remodeling firm in Newton, Massachusetts.
The reason? Factory finishes are applied on dry wood under controlled conditions—no rain, no harsh sun. “I used prefinished claps on my house about ten years ago and the only flaw in the finish is the occasional mildew spot, easily washed off,” Eldrenkamp says. “The paint looks as if it’ll be good for another ten years, easily.”
- Cost of unfinished siding for a 10-by-40-foot addition, plus two paint jobs: $5,000
- Cost for pre-finished claps and one coat of paint at installation: $3,750
- Saved: $1,250
7. Tap Your Contractor’s Sources
When it comes to things like flooring, ask your subcontractor if he has odds-and-ends stock left over from other jobs. While renovating a Civil War-era bed-and-breakfast in New Jersey some years back, contractor Bill Asdal needed wood flooring.
He made a few phone calls and came up with hundreds of square feet of hardwood, in various lengths and widths, that otherwise would have gone into the trash on other job sites. Just by planing it to uniform thickness, then sanding and refinishing it, he saved his client almost $9,000 in materials costs.
- Cost of new flooring: $19,200
- Cost to use someone else’s discards: $10,500
- Saved: $8,700
8. Consult an Architect
Depending on the scale of your project, you might not need a full-on architectural commission, which involves extensive meetings, multiple job-site visits, and several sets of construction drawings, to the tune of about 8 percent of a project’s construction budget. You might be able to tap an architect’s design savvy by having him undertake a one-time design consultation.
For example, for a $400 flat fee, Baton Rouge architect Kevin Harris will meet with a homeowner, examine the problem, and sketch out a few solutions that could be as simple as opening up a partition wall or moving a door. The homeowner can then give the sketch to a builder or take it to a drafting service, which will charge about $1 to $1.50 a square foot to crank out formal construction drawings.
- Architect’s fee to design a 300-square-foot home office: $2,250
- Fee for design consultation only and plans: $580
- Saved: $1,670
9. Partner With a Contractor
Though the practice is controversial among the trades, some contractors will offer consulting and mentoring services to skilled do-it-yourselfers on an hourly basis.
Chicago-area builder Ted Welch charges $150 per hour for such coaching, with a two-hour minimum commitment. “The most satisfied clients tend to be those who have good manual dexterity, who realize that skills need to be practiced in order to be perfected, and who are willing to risk making a few mistakes and then learn from them,” he says.
- Cost to drywall one room: $1,000
- Cost with DIY consultation: $300 (2 hours of coaching), plus materials
- Saved: $700
10. Make Sweat Equity Count
Unless you’ve got loads of time (and expertise) to spend on your project, the best way to add sweat equity is up front, by handling your own demolition, or at the back end, by doing some of the finish work yourself.
“If you want to save money, dig in and start helping out,” says Tom Silva. “You can insulate, you can paint, you can sand.” Or better still, he says, help with cleanup every day. “Instead of paying someone to pick up sawdust off the floor, put your money into the time it takes to trim the window properly,” he advises.
- Cost for construction crew to handle cleanup: $200 per day
- Cost to do it yourself: $0
- Saved: About 3 to 5 percent of the overall job cost
11. Do Your Own Schlepping
If you’re doing your own project, slash your materials-delivery fees by picking up goods yourself. No pickup truck? For about $400, you can purchase a nearly new single-axle utility trailer online, which you can tow behind your SUV. Get one just big enough to carry 4-by-8 sheet goods flat. Use it for a half-dozen trips, and it’s paid for itself. Find trailers for sale near you via eBay Motors, or try your local classifieds.
- Cost of 10 deliveries: $750
- Cost to buy a used trailer: $400
- Saved: $350, plus you get to keep (or sell) the trailer
12. Don’t Overspend on Wall Prep
If your walls are in such rough shape that it would take a painting contractor days of filling and sanding to make them ready for the roller, consider using materials such as Texturglas, from Deerfield Beach, Florida—based company Roos International.
A breathable, nontoxic wall covering made of fine glass filaments, Texturglas has a similar look and feel to the fiberglass matting used in auto-body work. It’s available in a variety of surface patterns, takes paint readily, and is designed to be installed right on top of existing surfaces, adding strength while covering up dings.
- Cost to patch and paint a 15-by-20-foot room with heavily damaged walls: $1,525
- Cost to install Texturglas: $1,050
- Saved: $475
13. Consider Look-Alikes
Some imitations just make sense: Lumber giant Weyerhaeuser sells a fast-growing natural eucalyptus hybrid under the brand name Lyptus. Sustainably harvested in plantations in Brazil, the clear-grained hardwood looks and feels remarkably like mahogany. It’s sold as toungue-and-groove flooring and in planks and sheets for cabinetry and millwork.
- Cost of 100 board feet of mohogany: $808
- Cost of same quantity Lyptus: $395
- Saved: $413
14. Wait Until Contractors Want Your Business
Don’t schedule your reno in the height of summer or between September, when the kids go back to school, and Christmas. “That’s premium time,” explains Lisa Stacholy, owner of LKS Architects, in Atlanta, Georgia. Suppliers tend to be busier, labor scarcer, and deliveries slower. One Virginia-based contractor offers discounts of between 4.5 and 5.5 percent (depending on the overall budget) on projects during his down time, right after the new year.
- Cost of a major bathroom remodel in peak season: $25,000
- Cost in January: $23,625
- Saved: $1,375
15. Skip the Foundation
If local code allows, you may be able to support a small addition on posts and beams, as you would a deck, explains contractor Dennis Gavin, of Gavin Design-Build, in Media, Pennsylvania.
- 220-square-foot addition with poured foundation: $40,000
- Same-size addition on posts and beams: $35,000
- Saved: $5,000
16. Don’t Move the Kitchen Sink
Or the toilet, if you can avoid it. “That often becomes the biggest part of the plumbing-price increase,” says Richard Trethewey, This Old House plumbing and heating expert. If your new layout requires that you move the toilet, use the opportunity to upgrade the pipes at the same time. “That will save you money in the long run,” says Richard.
- Cost to move toilet more than 3 feet: $500-$1,000
- Cost to leave in existing location: $0
- Saved: Up to $1,000
17. Plan with Stock Sizes in Mind
“Ask yourself, ‘Why am I building something 10 feet wide if plywood comes in 4-foot-wide sheets?'” says Lisa Stacholy, of LKS Architects, in Atlanta. The same applies to stock windows and doors: Use manufacturers’ off-the-shelf dimensions from the outset and you will save the premiums of custom fabrication.
- Cost of custom doors: $1,500-$2,500
- Cost of standard doors: $500-$800
- Saved: Up to $2,000
18. Buy Building Supplies at Auction
Brian Peppel, a homeowner in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, attends one building-supply auction each month in nearby Lancaster County. His recent finds include two pallets of concrete block for $10 and a solid-wood prehung exterior door for $65.
“Their inventory is everything under the sun, a lot of scratch-and-dent, misordered custom items, or new overstock supplies,” reports Peppel. He once watched the auctioneer’s gavel fall on a large, custom-made triangular window with an original retail value that he pegs at several thousand dollars. The winning bid? $1.
- Cost of solid-cherry wall cabinet at a home center: $300
- Cost at building-supply auction: $10
- Saved: $290
19. Make Decisions Early
Start prowling the aisles at the hardware store or home center way before the wrecking crew shows up. Get a good feeling for what you want in fixtures and appliances and what they cost.
If you aren’t absolutely specific up front about what you want, you’ll have to rely on your contractor’s estimate, called an allowance, and his notion of what is acceptable may be quite different from yours. “Ninety-eight percent of the time, allowances are too low,” says Tom Silva. For instance, you may have had a glass-tile backsplash in mind, but your contractor’s bid was for ceramic.
- Cost to plan ahead: $0
- Cost of change orders midstream: The difference in the item price, but also time lost to project delays and communications glitches
- Saved: Up to thousands
Garage Remodeling Costs
A complete garage remodel will range $7,000 – $15,000, on average8. Small upgrades like a garage door replacement can add significant value to your home, nearly matching your investment at a 95% return.
Garage door replacement average cost: $3,907
Additional home value: $3,663
Return on investment: 94%
Credit cards can work for home renovations, but I wouldn’t recommend them. High interest rates, plus low credit limits, make this a barely viable option. A credit card wouldn’t be able to fully pay for a $60,000 home renovation, for example.
Here’s what else to consider when it comes to using a credit card for a house renovation:
- Only use a card to finance a home renovation if you feel confident that you can repay the amount in a short period of time.
- If you’re just looking to do a few small tweaks – flooring in the bathroom or new appliances – a credit card can cover it.
- After you’ve paid, try looking for balance transfer offers on other cards, so you can at least get a 0% APR on your home project after the fact.
If no balance transfer offers are available, make a plan to pay off the debt.
Remodel House Into An Entryway
A grand entrance is a high-end upgrade for any home, averaging just over $9,000. While you may feel sticker shock with the price tag, consider the labor associated. This renovation calls for moving electrical elements, updating the trim, installing a wider casing and a painting.
High-end grand entry door average cost: $10,044
Additional home value: $6,116
Return on investment: 61%
Mid-Range entry door average cost: $2,082
Additional home value: $1,353
Return on investment: 65%
One of the first costs you’ll incur in your renovation is the cost to pull permits for your project, which is done through your local building department. This will need to be done before you start any work. Once your renovation is complete, you’ll need an inspection to ensure the work is done to local codes, and to obtain a certificate of occupancy.
According to The National Association of the Remodeling Industry, “Although building codes vary from state to state, a permit is generally required for remodeling projects that involve changes to the building’s existing footprint, electrical system or plumbing. Adding new windows to existing walls usually requires a permit. You are likely to need a permit for any project that goes beyond a simple repair or aesthetic upgrade such as:
- adding supporting walls or taking down load-bearing walls,
- an in-ground concrete pool or a porch/deck,
- replacing the roof,
- backyard shed or
- concrete sidewalks, driveways and slabs”
Permits are often calculated based on the price of materials and labor, and/or the size of the property, and vary from city to city. In Norwalk, Conn., for example, the cost for residential building permits is $13 per every $1,000 spent on labor and materials (with a minimum of $75), plus a $25 Certificate of Occupancy fee. In Issaquah, Wash., costs are also dependent on the cost of the project. A permit for a $20,000 bathroom remodel would cost $365. For a $5,000 project, expect permit fees of $126.85. Because permits are pulled before a job can start, costs are calculated based on proposed budgets.
While it can be expensive to the proper obtain permits, doing work without a permit is illegal, and can be far more costly that the original permit fees. The City of Chicago, for example, charges $5,000 per day for any remodeling work found to be done that exceeds the scope of the permit pulled.
Do I Need a Home Renovation?
The idea of disrupting home life or getting a renovation loan just to complete a major renovation could be enough to prevent some homeowners from taking the leap. A renovation isn’t for everyone, and it’s not always the best option cost-wise; however, you might discover that it’s the perfect option for your family. Renovating an existing home allows you to experience added comfort and luxury, avoid the hassle of moving, improve your home’s energy efficiency, and increase your home’s value.
Make Your Home More Comfortable and Aesthetically Pleasing
You spend a lot of time in your home, especially if it’s also your work space. Why not invest in making your private space more comfortable, functional, and enjoyable? Living in a home that suits your style and needs can positively affect your overall health. Home renovation doesn’t just have to be about resale value. If a room or system has always bothered you, update it and alleviate that nagging stress.
Boost Your Home’s Value
Any significant improvement on a home boosts the property value. That’s money right back in your pocket someday when you decide to sell. An outdated kitchen is a primary deterrent for many prospective home buyers. A kitchen renovation improves ROI (return on investment) by 83 percent, and a bathroom renovation by at least 65 percent or more.
Enhance Safety and Improve Accessibility
It’s safe to assume most people would prefer to choose a renovation project rather than be forced to complete one due to damage or disrepair. In some cases, renovation cannot be put off for long. Faulty electrical wiring, roof leaks, broken appliances, or storm damage are just a few reasons homeowners should start a renovation project. Safety is a top priority when it comes to deciding on a renovation.
Upfront costs of buying a house are one thing to consider, but many home buyers also factor in long-term energy costs. Monthly costs to maintain a comfortable home add up over time. Even if you don’t plan to sell a house soon, consider renovating some mechanical systems to improve the efficiency of your house and lower bills. New double-pane windows, added insulation, or an updated HVAC system improve efficiency.
Fix Existing Damage
Sometimes a house has sustained some damage that doesn’t affect efficiency or function, but it’s still important to repair any damage to keep property value high. A home that’s always kept in good shape will bring more value to a sale.
You’re Selling Your Home
If you know you won’t stay in your home forever, updating the interior might be a great idea to improve the resale value. A home estimate can help identify areas that would provide the best ROI. Some homeowners do this frequently as house flippers. In this case, it’s best to choose styles, colors, and trends that appeal to the current market in your region.Selling your home?A home renovation can boost resale value. Get free, no-commitment project estimates from contractors, builders, painters, and more near you. Find a Pro +
Watch the Real Homes Show for more home improvement advice
Head to Real Homes TV to see the latest episode From ideas for your small space, to tips on saving money on household purchases, The Real Homes Show has you covered
Return On Investment For Top Renovations
When embarking on any major remodeling project in your house its important to think about the prospective return on investment.
Some remodels are done right before the sale of the house in order to boost its value, while others are done for personal enjoyment with the goal of adding long terms value to the home.
Here are the National Average ROI figures for the most popular remodeling projects.
|Project Type||Remodel Cost||Average ROI||Your Return|
|Minor kitchen remodel||$21,198||81.10%||$17,191|
|Mid-range full kitchen remodel||$63,829||59%||$37,637|
|High-end full kitchen remodel||$125,721||53.50%||$67,212|
|Mid-range full bathroom remodel||$19,134||70.10%||$13,422|
|High-end full bathroom remodel||$61,662||56.20%||$34,644|
|Floor replacement (hardwood)||$18,500||75.00%||$13,875|
|Finishing the attic (with bathroom)||$47,240||62.00%||$29,289|
|Finishing the basement (with bathroom)||$56,850||73.00%||$41,501|
|Window Replacement (wood)||$19,391||69.50%||$27,901|
|Window Replacement (vinyl)||$15,995||74.30%||$11,884|
Keep in mind that the actual return on investment on any remodel will largely depend on local real estate market trends as well as the level of renovation you are doing.
If you are not sure whether a specific remodel is a smart investment, its best to contact a local experienced real estate agent for advice.
Home renovation cost estimator
When estimating home renovation costs, the main factors are the square footage, age, location, property’s condition, which rooms are being remodeled, structural changes, and the quality of materials and appliances.
|Low-end||$15,000 – $40,000||Cosmetic work like painting, landscaping, trim, molding, and flooring, stock cabinetry, inexpensive appliances and countertops.|
|Mid-range||$40,000 – $75,000||Low-end options + above-average materials and appliances, full bathroom and kitchen remodel, new light fixtures, exterior siding, hardwood flooring.|
|High-end||$75,000 – $200,000||Mid-range options + high-end materials and appliances, custom cabinetry with built-ins, custom closets, structural and foundation repair, layout changes, HVAC and roof replacement, basement or attic conversion to living space, professional interior design.|
Average remodel cost per square foot
The average remodel costs $15 to $60 per square foot, depending on which rooms need renovating. Kitchen and bathroom renovation costs $100 to $250 per square foot based on the size and quality of materials. A complete gut renovation costs $60 to $150 per square foot.
|Type||Cost per square foot|
|Whole house remodel||$15 – $60|
|Full house gut to studs & remodel||$60 – $150|
|Tear down house and rebuild||$104 – $165|
|Remodel kitchen and bathrooms||$100 – $250|
Dry rooms such as living rooms and bedrooms typically fall on the lower-end of the range. Costs increase significantly for urban areas with higher costs of living and historic homes more than 100 years old.
Get free estimates from home remodelers near you. View Pros
Whole house renovation cost
The average cost to renovate a whole 1,200 sq. ft. house is $18,000 to $72,000, while remodeling a 2,000 sq. ft. home ranges between $28,000 and $115,000. Prices depend on the extent of the remodel, quality of materials, and if structural changes are made to the layout.
|Square feet||Typical range||Average cost|
|1,000||$15,000 – $60,000||$20,000|
|1,200||$18,000 – $72,000||$24,000|
|1,500||$20,000 – $85,000||$30,000|
|1,800||$25,000 – $100,000||$45,000|
|2,000||$28,000 – $115,000||$50,000|
|2,500||$35,000 – $135,000||$62,000|
|3,000||$40,000 – $160,000||$75,000|
|3,500||$45,000 – $180,000||$87,000|
|4,000||$50,000 – $210,000||$100,000|
If the home is beyond repair, the average cost to tear down and rebuild a house is $125,000 to $450,000 or $104 to $165 per square foot.
House refurbishment cost by bedrooms
The average cost to fully renovate a 3-bedroom house is $25,000 to $100,000, and between $40,000 to $180,000 to remodel a 4-bedroom home. These renovation costs range from standard upgrades up to a complete gut and remodel.
|2 bedroom house||$15,000 – $75,000|
|3 bedroom house||$20,000 – $100,000|
|4 bedroom house||$40,000 – $180,000|
Full house renovation costs by home type
Homeowners typically spend between $20 to $200 per square foot on a full house remodel, depending on the type of property. However, the largest factors are the scope of the renovation, location, and quality of materials used.
|Home type||Cost per square foot|
|Condo||$40 – $125|
|Apartment||$25 – $60|
|Row house||$25 – $75|
|Bungalow||$35 – $80|
|Farmhouse||$20 – $100|
|Townhouse||$25 – $150|
|Victorian||$50 – $200|
|Historical||$100 – $400|
Other home remodeling ideas
Many of the most popular home remodeling projects are broken down above, but there are countless other projects that 47 percent of homeowners can tackle with their $5,000 budget. In the survey results, Porch estimates homeowners need an average of $5,000 to replace a roof, which is an unglamorous but valuable project. Other remodeling options that can vary widely in price include installing new siding on a home’s exterior, installing new windows, adding a new air conditioning or heating system, and adding or updating a fireplace.
All remodeling costs vary, but researching and planning projects carefully can reveal ways to lower costs as much as possible. $5,000, though, won’t get anyone the completely remodeled home they might dream of.