Sticker Shock

This Isn't HGTV ;)

Posted on June 29, 2017
Different Size Houses With Coins

What should you expect when starting out on a remodeling project?

Most people don’t do sizeable renovations very frequently and HGTV, although very entertaining, is really just that—entertainment! After all, the featured tradespeople and suppliers are providing free labor and materials to be on TV, so the stated project costs are a bit skewed. They also don’t take into account all the ancillary costs of doing a project: design, project management, deconstruction, jobsite clean-up, liability insurance, profit and overhead—you know, the cost of doing business.

Chick Egg

The issue of cost can cause a lot of trepidation, often keeping people from moving forward for years on improvements that could greatly increase enjoyment of their home.

That paralysis can come from a “chicken or egg” situation: folks say they don’t know what their budget is because they don’t know what things cost. Nonetheless, most folks have a pretty good idea of how much money they feel comfortable investing in their homes. This number is often arrived at by looking at listing prices of similar homes in their area and subtracting what they paid for their house. The difference between these two numbers seems to be a safe bet. The flaw with this “current market-based” approach is that very few people would do a high-quality, major renovation and then immediately put their house on the market. Instead, consider comparing your investment to what your house should be worth in 10 years, or whenever you think you may sell it based on property value increases in your market.

Once you have that ballpark investment number in your head, it’s time to figure out what to invest in. Think about it in terms of a scale: on the one side you have all your ideas, dreams and wishes, on the other side there are numbers—these two sides need to balance out in order to develop a scope of work that meets the most of your highest priorities possible within your current budget.

How do you do that?

  • Determine your current working budget range: talk to a mortgage broker and your bank to get a ballpark on how much you’ll have to work with. This will help you determine whether you can do everything at once or break it into phases.
  • Prioritize: draw up a list of “Gotta Do...” items (repairs or maintenance; I know these items aren’t the sizzle items!), “I Really, Really Need…” items (what things are really bugging you? Frustrating you?) and “I’d Really Love…” items. Write them all out in descending order of priority. (Helpful tip: Because couples can have different tastes or priorities, each decision-maker should make their own list, then compare and combine. WARNING!! Some give and take may enter into the equation here to create a list all parties are happy with)
  • Realize that you may or may not be able to accomplish everything on your list within your current budget. A professional can help you develop a master plan that breaks the work down into manageable phases.
CG&S Office

Who is that professional, and how do I find them?

  • An experienced and reputable design-build company could well be your most efficient, cost effective way to plan, design and build your project. Such a firm should be able to give you realistic ballparks on budget after gathering some initial info from you.
  • Otherwise, you may need an architect, engineer, interior designer and a contractor—so you’ll be interfacing with three to four different companies, which is just another way to go about it.
  • A sole practitioner type of contractor may have some carpentry and perhaps some other trade skills as well.

OK, so this is real life, not HGTV, what’s it going to cost?

  • For us, a Full Kitchen remodel, removing and replacing everything: We see projects that range from $70k–$100k plus appliances. Or more if you’re thinking about opening walls, relocating appliances or plumbing.
  • Master Bathroom remodel, remove and replace everything in the same location: We see projects that range between $60k-$90k. Could be more if you want to move walls, remove that scary garden tub you never use and have a free-standing tub and a larger shower or just a larger shower, re-do your closet.
  • Master Suite Addition- Can range between $175–250k+ depending on the size and complexity of the bathroom, closet and bedroom spaces.
  • Whole House Renovations/expansions- $300k-$1m+ Wide range here as “whole house remodel” can be interpreted in many ways-best seek professional advice.

These are realistic numbers assuming you want qualified professionals to design and build your project legally, according to building codes, obtaining all required permits and getting all the required inspections.

Shocked Businessman

WOW! That’s a lot more than I thought it would be!

But don’t trip over a dollar to pick up a penny. If you plan to live in your home for 7-10 years or longer, think about doing the things that will give you the most increased function and enjoyment of your home.

Communication is KEY for a happy ending.

You’re getting ready to place a lot of trust in some folks to have your best interest at heart in developing your plan, budgeting it and building it well. This is a long-term relationship. Assuming you’ve done your due diligence in vetting the 2 or 3 companies you choose to meet with, choose the company whose process you like the best and which you sense has good communication, meaning they take the time to ask questions and listen.

Renovating, remodeling, updating your home CAN be a fun, exciting project that brings great rewards, provided you pick the right team. A good design-build company can help you with budgeting, master planning, phasing, design and construction—all with the same team and under the same roof, which can save you considerable time and aggravation thanks to more cohesive communication.

Your dream home awaits!

Exterior of Light Green Home in Nature Space

photograph by Tre Dunham

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