It’s a frequently asked question from homeowners: what is the price per square foot for remodeling my home?
Like most things in life, there is no exact answer any remodeler can give you when they first walk through your front door. Sure, we can talk ballpark numbers and ranges, but if you’ve ever wondered why you hear so many different things from the contractors you meet and why the estimates or square footage costs given vary so greatly, then read on!
Why Estimates Are Inaccurate
Estimates are inaccurate because, well, they are exactly that—estimates! The cost per square foot for a remodel is driven by a number of factors from the complexity and size of the space you are remodeling to the contractor you pick for the job and the materials you chose. If a contractor walks through your door and by the end of the visit is giving you an estimate, it’s usually one that is based off the top of one’s head math with no reality around the specifics of the project and the level of finishes you want. It won’t be until you go through a detailed design process and identify the scope and materials you want that you get to any realistic numbers.
Know Who – and What – You Need
With so many different ways to remodel, understanding who you need for the job and what services they provide is the key to understanding why calculating the square foot price for a remodel isn’t as straightforward as it sounds. Don’t know the difference between a general contractor and a full service design-build firm? You should!
A General Contractor might cost less money because you will likely be the one who has to come up with the design for your space, research, and pick the materials you want and – in many cases – buy the materials. A full service design-build firm like Synergy, on the other hand, will walk you through the entire project from start to finish, provide a team of experts (Interior Designers and/or Architects as needed) to come up with design options and guide you through the material selections, buy everything on your behalf as well as oversee the construction phase of the remodel so you don’t have to. Most design-build firms tend to focus on medium to large-scale residential remodels. That level of knowledge, expertise and management might cost you more, but with that comes the peace of mind it is being done right. Read our Busy Person’s Guide to Choosing a Remodeling Contractor for insights into figuring out who is the right fit for your project.
So what are the cost drivers? We’ve discussed the level of service your chosen contractor provides as one, but here are some other cost drivers that impact your project:
- Footprint: Want to change the layout in your kitchen? That will automatically increase costs because of the knock-on effects to plumbing, electrical, mechanical or even simple considerations many homeowners don’t even think about such as flooring.
- Walls: Trying to take down a wall between 2 rooms to make a more open, airy space? Removing walls is an instant cost – less if the walls aren’t load bearing, but significant if they are.
- Cabinetry: Like most things in life, there are different levels of finish for cabinets, each with its own price point. These days, you don’t have to go custom to get the look. Semi-custom cabinetry can look equally as beautiful. Whichever way you go, the more cabinets you have, the more it will cost you per square foot. That cabinetry-fronted fridge you’ve always coveted? Gorgeous, yes, but added expense!
- Tile: Love beautiful tile? Yes, so do we, but you need to be realistic about how much tile costs per square foot and how your design choices are impacting your budget. Want a stunning carrera marble waterfall countertop? The price per square foot for your remodel just went WAY UP!
- Flooring: It used to be hardwood flooring was the only way to go. There are new greener and/or budget friendly alternatives now on the market, but flooring choice really makes a difference in your overall costs, especially if you are trying to replace throughout the same level or trying to match existing.
So what are realistic averages?
Luckily for you, the remodeling industry has some great tools to give homeowners sensible starting points for getting a better sense of remodeling costs. Remodeling Magazine’s Cost vs. Value Report is a great place to start. Their 2018 report shows the national average for a mid-range kitchen remodel is now almost $64,000, while an upscale kitchen remodel is in the $125,000 range. Keep in mind, these are averages – the luxury of living on the East Coast and remodeling in Reston means we all get to pay a premium compared to our friends elsewhere in the country.
Houzz also provides a very informative report every year in their Houzz and Home Annual Study. According to this year’s report, the median spend on kitchen remodels increased 10% year-over-year in 2017. Kitchen and Master Bath remodels are top of the list for homeowners.
Finally, our friends at Landis Construction in the District also provide an excellent pricing guideline to help inform your budget expectations for a well-designed and well-built renovation project when trying to understand “What will my project cost?”
Are the costs of remodels coming down?
Sadly, no. Record demand for home improvements and tariffs are having an impact on the entire remodeling industry from new construction all the way to residential home remodeling. The long-term impact of this is yet to be seen, but all indications are the cost per square foot for a remodel will continue to increase.
How much will my remodel cost with Synergy?
At Synergy Design & Construction, we work very hard to give you the exact cost of your remodel before we start pulling out your cabinets. We don’t believe in “free estimates” to get you to sign on the dotted line. No-one wants to get into a remodel only to be continuously change-ordered once construction begins. We partner with you to go through a detailed design process to come up with your perfect space before you sign a construction contract, set realistic cost allowances for materials and then manage the entire process for you.