Typical Renovation Costs

Calculating the cost of any renovation has some key considerations to take into account. Knowing what the extensive improvements and typical renovation costs are, is what you need to figure out, so lets take a look.


Typical Renovation Costs


There are a few variations on how you can look at your average renovation costs by asking yourself the following questions.


Photograph of figuring out estimates

Do you need to file for permits?

Are you dealing with a designer?

Do you need blueprints or drawings?

If you’re doing Reno’s, do you need tools?

Is there a general contractor needed?

Are you the general contractor and hiring all the sub-trades required?


Do you need to file for permits?


Depending on where you live, most of the times you need a building permit once you go over a certain budget amount or a particular type of work. Having a permit will help ensure that your renovations are being done to code for building inspections. Secondly, the municipality for which you live will most likely raise your tax value for any home improvements on your new property tax assessment.


Are you dealing with a designer?


Photograph of who do you need

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If you choose to use a designer, then this will also reflect in your renovation costs. One thing I would like to mention to you here, is most contractors have done so many renovations that they can answer a lot of questions you may have. So most people find between what they know and would like to have done and what the contractors know about doing the work, they can save money from not needing to hire a designer. I also know from experience some people will hire a designer regardless.


Do you need blueprints or drawings?


Depending on the scale of your renovation, you may need blueprints or at least drawings to show measurements, etc. to get the job done. Any time you’re running electrical and plumbing, they will do smaller jobs without the requirment of any plans, but that’s not always the case. Kitchen cabinets usually always have plans of one sort or another for mounting them in a room, and measurements for countertops are also written out on some plans. Take note that the final countertop measurement will be done once all the required lower cabinets have been installed before they are cut to fit.


If you’re doing Reno’s, do you need tools?


photograph of cost estimates

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How about any part of or perhaps all of the renovations you’re going to handle, do you have the tools. It’s one thing to know what to do, but you still have the cost of your equipment. Do you own all the required equipment to do the job? Do you need to look at the pros and cons to either purchase or rent the equipment you need? You may be able to borrow some tools depending on what you need. So whether you rent or buy tools, you will have some cost associated with getting your renovation to completion.


Is there a general contractor needed?


Having a general contractor will cost you some money for your renovation but it is well worth the cost for any mid to large scale job. With the general contractor, you only need to deal with them and all other trades people will be managed and controlled for quality of work through them. By doing this, it will save you major time and trouble when you have hired a good general contractor to control all aspects of the project. A good idea when you’re not entirely knowledgeable of the entire work load underway.


Are you the general contractor and hiring all the sub-trades required?


Now when it comes to you being the general contractor, there is some savings in the budget counting on you know what you’re doing. By doing so, you are now the one answering all questions on your renovation on what, when, where and how for all details that arise. You will be responsible for who you hire and the quality that each put forth. You will deal with each sub-trade rather than dealing with one person in charge of the quality of workmanship.


So other than the cost of materials which can have a broad range depending on the size of your job. The actual quality of materials used will impact the budget as well to the overall costs. Your Typical Renovation Costs can also have a lot of fluctuations based on who is the general contractor, is there a designer and how much are you doing. The more you can do, the more you can save but you need to factor in any tool rental and tool purchases to see the actual bottom line.


Check the right column for detailed posts in the category drop down box for in-depth Articles.

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  1. Hi Travis, very nice website you have here. Nice to know all this since I have been wanting to expand my master bedroom with a 2nd bathroom.
    Thanks and have a great day!

  2. Cost is definitely an important part of any project. I always like to figure out an estimate and then add a little more to it. Projects almost always have a way costing more in the long run than anticipated, at least for me. It’s better to over estimate and be surprised if some money is left over than the other way around.

    • Hi Brittony building in a contingency for budgeting a renovation is something you always want to do, so I should add that in where a lot of people may not realize that it makes up about 20% on average.

  3. Hey Travis … this is a great website. You’ve done your homework. Looks like the renovation business should rebound along with the recovering economy. I think folks these days are more inclined to upgrade their existing home than to take on a whole new mortgage.

    • Hi Dennis, when you’ve renovated as many places as I have you start to see a far bit and learn lots along the way. Your right about the economy recovering for renovations depending on where you live.

  4. Hi Travis

    Very important topic you bring here!

    In Spanish we have a saying “Lo barato a veces sale caro”, which translates into “sometimes, the cheapest choice turns to be the most expensive”

    I thought about that when you talk about hiring some professional to help you through your renovation. Maybe in the beginning someone may doubt about hiring a contractor, or a designer, or even an architect, but if you are dealing with the right person, maybe you are saving a lot of money!

    Again, thanks for the post, very illustrative.

    Warm regards

    • I like your Spanish saying and depending on the size of your job, hiring the right professionals can save you money in most jobs. There will always be some professionals that charge far to much and some that think they are professionals because they have a vehicle and some tools. Most quality professionals will charge a decent rate and will save you money from there knowledge and abilities to get the job done right.

  5. Hi, great info! I’m about to do some Reno’s. When I talk to a general contractor about a quote, and I get one, and lets say the job goes over budget, as lots of jobs go over, does the general contractor have to stay with the quote? Some subcontractors want an hourly wage, and others want all the money at once. Should I pay them at the end, or half way through? Want credentials should I look for?

    • Hi Michael, I will answer your questions from my experience of how we do things.

      All Quotes are an estimate about timeline for how long a job will take and how much materials and labor cost. Most of the time my Invoices are the same as my quotes, otherwise their is a slight increase do to structural repairs for instance. There are a lot of contractors that use the quote to get the job by under bidding knowing full well your going to pay as much as double to what they had quoted plus any extras.

      When subcontractors want an hourly wage that is telling you either they do not know how much to charge for the job or they are going to milk it and take your money. You will end up with such trades as electricians and plumbers who have calculated personnel cost with business operations and bill out by the hour. I never work by the hour because when you do something for a living you work far faster than the average person trying to fix something or renovate. For most of what I do I can quote cost and time so you know the total cost.

      Never pay for any job up front that has not been completed. Some will require a deposit but partial for materials etc is not unheard of. Pay for the job at completion not the beginning.

      The credentials you should look for are the ones required for your job. The company is fully insured, all personnel are certified if required for there trade and most importantly that they know how to do what you need done.

  6. Living in an area where labor cost is very high, renovation cost is so high as well. I have a coworker who renovated the kitchen in his condo and spent well over 60k! At the same time housing cost is also so high that people have to settle for fixer-uppers a lot of the time. I still haven’t saved enough down payment to start looking but good to learn something about renovation costs. Thanks for the post.

    • Hi Sue and depending on where you live it is true just how high material or labor costs can be from one area to another. With that being said at least when you understand how different renovations are done you can figure out the cost and best materials to use for the job to be done within your budget.

  7. Great information here TSmithers.It is important to make a budget or an estimate just before thinking of renovations.It is good also to factor who and what is more important and applicable,for example if hiring a contractor definitely would add more cost,why not just do it with a general one where lots of things will be accomplished under one management,it is the high time we start making decisions before starting any renovation plans.

    • The other thing that people will notice as they start planning there renovations, is a lot of the smaller details will surface to whether there will be problems with there ideas or more money needed to be factored in. The more you consider for what your renovations are going to be the more you’ll have a better idea what you may be up against.

      Thats one of the reasons I started to do the DIY segments to my site and offer Video packages that show and explain all what is needed to be done. The more you know the easier it is to understand the costs involved and what and how it needs to be done. This way you’ll know where and how you can save money without cutting corners.

      I have a link that can really help with those that really want to save money by understanding the process at Average Renovation Costs.

  8. I like the content on the website! I think it seems very credible because of how passionate you are about your topic! Your interests are unique and it makes it highly that people will read your website because it that and how organized it seems! Good job and I hope you continue doing well!

  9. Thank you so much for this helpful article. You know… you have just made my life so much easier… we are building a conservatory and all the questions and complexity of the project has already started putting me off! There is so much to think of but you have answered so many of my questions with this just this one post. You don’t have any reliable contacts do you that you could recommend?

    • All my contacts are where I live and the best I can do for others outside my geographics is just inform them about renovations and what may be required to do them. I only work in my local area where I’m insured.

  10. I usually do renovations myself since my area doesn’t require permits on most things. But, when I hire a contractor, I notice most get their pricing by figuring out the cost of materials, and then doubling it. Do you find that to be true as well? So, for example, if materials cost $1000, the contractor will charge $2000 for the total job.

    – Jason

    • That can be the case at times, but many will charge by the square foot. For instance, I do a lot of tile work and people can pay from $10-$60 a mosaic sheet. Quoting and billing out for tile work with mosaic sheets cost the same regardless if you pay the lower price or higher price for materials in this case.

      It all depends on the product and what you are looking to get done. Sometimes it may seem like material cost then double it but with me its all about the time and difficulty required for what is being requested.

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