How to understand the cost of your remodeling project

How to understand the cost of your remodeling project
paper money and coins

paper money and coins

Many homeowners have thought about remodeling projects for their home, including finishing the basement, kitchen renovations or adding a bathroom or family room. However, they rarely have any idea what the price tag will be. This isn’t a bad thing. 

Someone without construction experience rarely understands the remodeling process puzzle, and more importantly, how the pieces fit together. Design, selections, demolition, framing, drywall, electrical, plumbing, inspections and much more all play a role in the process.

This leads to the inevitable question: “How much will my remodeling project cost?”

The difficulty with ballpark figures is the idea that a remodeling project is an item like a car or computer – one product sold by many vendors. Carpentry is a custom art, not just a skilled trade. A company may sell a new bathroom “system,” but that isn’t a custom renovation project.

No two projects or remodeling companies are the same. The design you choose and the selections you make will determine the cost of your project.

A general contractor may be able to give you an average price for similar jobs. Unfortunately, the “average price” for all of their kitchens does not mean the same thing as the “ballpark figure” for your specific project. A price range is a reasonable request, just understand what those numbers mean.

Know the pitfalls with this method:

Low price: You think this price is great! However, when the actual proposal comes back, you are shocked. Or worse, the contractor gives you a lowball “estimate” just to get the job, but you then steadily watch the price rise.

High price: You are scared off from the project before you ever discuss what can be done with your budget. If the price seems too high, ask questions before bolting for the door.

Where to start?

Remodeling Magazine’s Cost vs. Value Report is a good place to start. This guide will help you begin to understand the average cost of several different project categories and how much you can expect to recoup in home value on your remodeling investment.

“Guess-timating” is not a science. Give your remodeling contractor some time to learn the details about your specific project ideas with a formal meeting. This will help you start on the same page together and it will lead you towards a successful investment.

About this Angie’s List Expert: Matt Blank represents MBC Building & Remodeling, providing home remodeling services in Millersville, Pa. Since 1999, MBC Remodeling has specialized in home additions, kitchen and bathroom remodeling, decks and more. You can follow this #ALExperts contributor on Twitter @MBCremodeling.

As of January 14, 2014, this service provider was highly rated on Angie's List. Ratings are subject to change based on consumer feedback, so check Angie's List for the most up-to-date reviews. The views expressed by this author do not necessarily reflect those of Angie's List.

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