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How to properly estimate the costs of remodeling

Woman renovating her house

Estimating the costs of remodeling


Remodeling a home can be an excellent way to boost its value on the real estate market if you ever decide to sell one day. That being said, there’s no doubt that redoing an entire house does come at a price. If you’re a complete novice at renovating houses, it can be harder for you to properly budget your expenses when it comes to tearing down walls, replacing fixtures or simply re-painting a room. However, the best way to avoid unnecessary expenses is to plan beforehand. So, here are my recommendations to help you properly estimate how much it will cost you to redecorate and renovate your house.

  1. Establish your payment methods beforehand

A common misconception among homeowners is that they need to regretfully reject an important renovation plan because they don’t have the money for it. In fact, you can apply for a home equity loan which is not unlike a lump sum and is derived directly from your actual home equity. Afterward, it is paid back like a traditional loan.

Another option is to go for a home equity line of credit. Known as HELOC, this type of loan works just like a credit card, allowing homeowners to withdraw as much as their credit limit enables them to do. You can repay your loan as you go to avoid high-interest charges.


  1. Draft a rough estimate of labor hours

This will provide you with a more accurate idea of how much you can expect to spend on the renovation works.  Don’t hesitate to check out websites such as Home Advisor to get a solid idea of how much professionals around your area tend to charge. Then, get in touch with at least three contractors to discuss your plans, following which, they will provide you with a quote for the whole project. Of course, it always pays off to draw up a list of contractors according to their fees and then compares it to your own budget.

Alternatively, if you happen to be handy with construction tools, it’s always a good idea to indulge in some DYI in order to cut back on costs. Still, bear in mind that you have to factor these hours in as well since you will most probably end up taking unpaid time off your real job and consequently sacrifice this income to work on your home.

Regardless of whether you decide to hire people or do your own renovation, adding up the work hours is an excellent way of estimating how much you will need to spend on the house.

  1. Factor in the materials

Before you embark on any renovation project, do write down any materials you think you might need for the renovation. For example, if you’re remodeling the kitchen, you might need between 250 to 300 square feet of new tiles, paint, new cabinets as well as a quartz countertop. Several websites offer free paint calculators to help you determine how much paint you might need beforehand. Once you’ve made a list of your materials, it’s always a good idea to shop around, compare and note down the prices from different stores for a closer estimate of your expenses.

Bear in mind that the cost of materials vary widely, so you can also browse through hardware stores for cost-cutting alternatives. For instance, granite countertops can cost up to $100 per square foot, if not more, but you can also achieve a fairly similar look if you opt for man-made or processed quartz which can be around $40 to $50 per square foot.

renovate and refurbish the bathroom
Broken tiles in the renovation of a bathroom. remodeling and renovation in the living area. tiler at work
  1. Look out for hidden conditions

No amount of strategic planning will shelter you from what you’re going to find once you start tearing down the walls. To avoid unexpected surprises and to have a more accurate idea of how much you might need to spend on the renovation, watch out for these signs prior to starting any kind of work on the house:

  • Wood Decay: Signs of wood decay vary and you might not be able to determine the extent of the decay beforehand but generally speaking, bouncy, sagging or settling floors do hint at some kind of decay. Also, remember to inspect any piece of wood which is in direct contact with the masonry. If the roof feels mushy under your feet, you might have some kind of insect infestation.


  • Plumbing and Wiring: If you live in an old building, your plumbing and wiring might not be in par with modern codes. Houses over 50 years old often sport undergrounded electric systems, knob-and-tube wiring as well as lead plumbing. However, even new houses are not immune to corrosion. Consequently, watch out for signs such as blue stains that run across your water fixtures since these normally point at some kind of corrosion problem.