Like many empty nesters, Nan and George reflect fondly on successfully raising three children who have now started lives on their own. To be sure, they made sacrifices to ensure the needs of the kids came first. Most notably was in the house which had been the centerpiece of the family for more than 20 years, but not updated in that time. The kitchen is now dated, the bathroom is showing its age and the basement was never finished.
These things weren’t as important to them before when there were other priorities, but now they are looking at their house in a whole new light and asking themselves what would it cost to remodel their home?
There are many variables to consider before that question can be answered. Some are obvious like what new cabinets would cost. Others are not such as age of the home, whether it’s in compliance with local codes and the scope of work desired.
The scope can range from a simple facelift which is the least expensive; removal and replacement cabinets, counters or appliance which falls in the middle or a total transformation which costs the most.
Other factors include the homeowner’s involvement in the project. Do-it-yourselfers can save money, but the onus is on them. Being your own contractor involves a moderate amount of work but you need to find trusted people to help out. Homeowners can save money by doing demolition work themselves, but run the risk of doing unintended damage to the home. Finally, the homeowner can find a reputable remodeler which costs the most, but involves the lowest risk.
For the sake of discussion in this piece, let’s assume a contractor is selected to do a whole kitchen remodel. Many questions still remain before an answer to how much it will cost can be provided.
Does plumbing have to be relocated or electrical upgraded? Do you want a wall removed? What materials do you desire be used, and more importantly, fall within your budget. Quartz or natural stone counters, for example, are top of the line, but come at a price. Today’s new laminates might even provide the “wow factor” everyone wants without draining your pocketbook. The price of fixtures varies greatly for a reason. Lower grade faucets might look fine out of the box, but won’t perform well over the long run.
As a rule of thumb, materials and finishes account for between 30 percent and 50 percent of a remodeling project. Add another 10 percent to 15 percent for permits, disposal fees and appliances with the remainder covering labor costs.
There are independent resources out there that provide general guidance into how much remodeling a home costs in the particular part of the country in which you live. Remodeler Magazine publishes an annual “Cost vs. Value” report which, for the St. Louis metro area, can be downloaded here. A kitchen remodel in the St. Louis area, for example, ranges from $20,600 to $62,000 on a mid-range project, according to the publication. The report also estimates costs of a room addition, replacing windows and even insulating an attic.
After further discussion, Nan and George look at their home, not as a tired old thing, but one that is full of potential. Reaching that potential is now just a matter of asking the right questions.