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Complete Home Renovation: Where to Start

Complete Home Renovation: Where to Start

By Lynda Lyday



How much will it cost to renovate your home? How much do you want to spend? Renovation costs vary across the country. Also, how much are you going to tackle yourself? Are you acting as the contractor and planning to hire all the subcontractors? This can save you money if you have the time to oversee and schedule the various trades.

Than Merrill, the founder of Fortune Builders, says the low range for a home remodel is $25,000 to $45,000. This includes painting the interior and exterior of the house, some landscaping and minor repairs. The medium range of $46,000 to $75,000 would cover everything in the low range plus a full kitchen remodel and some minor bathroom upgrades. The high range starts at $76,000 and goes up from there. This covers everything in the medium range with a budget to fix foundation, sewer or roof issues.

Whether you’re going to sell or upgrade, the big money areas are the kitchen, bathrooms, new appliances, roof and HVAC.

Selling or Upgrading for Yourself?

My big question to homeowners is why are you renovating? Is it because you want to sell your home, or are you ready to update it to fit your living needs and desires? Regardless, you will need a budget, and what you’ll spend may be different depending on your goal.

Before you launch into a whole home renovation, make sure you have a well-thought-out plan. If you are going to live there for the duration, you need to figure out where your living zone will be and create it. A place that resembles order and cleanliness. It might be an area in your home that you will need to enter through heavy-duty plastic to keep the dust out. You may need to rent a space to live in during the renovations, so make room for that in your budget.

Get on the Same Page

If you’re living with your sweetheart, I suggest having a couple’s therapist handy. If you want to see just how strong your relationship is, take down a wall or two with workers and tools banging around all day. There’s no two ways about it – it’s stressful. So be sure you’re both on the same page, and brush up on your communication skills – you’ll need them!

Also, make sure to hire a contractor and subcontractors who are on time and respond to texts and phone calls in a timely fashion. I always recommend getting references, because a contractor who drags work out and doesn’t finish the job can drive up the cost of your home renovation. Sometimes the cheapest bid becomes the costliest in the long run.

Renovating to Sell

If you are renovating to sell, start from the outside and work in. Curb appeal is the first impression, so give your home an inviting smile The cost of paint is the least expensive way to transform the look of your home. Pinterest has endless photos of current colors and trends.

Appliances and Fixtures

In my remodeling and construction experience, the area of the house that seems to matter the most is the kitchen. It’s the birthplace of all your meals and the most crowded place at a party. It’s smart to upgrade your kitchen, whether you’re going to sell your home or not. Don’t skimp on appliances. Make sure you buy the best appliances you can afford. You won’t regret it.

If you have a two- or three-bedroom home and only one bathroom, it would be wise to install a second bathroom. It can cost anywhere from $3,000 to convert an existing space to $15,000 or more if you need to create an addition. I’ve seen many clients spend loads of money on other areas of their home only to discover that their favorite update is that new bathroom. The bathroom isn’t just a necessity — it’s also a place where you can pamper yourself.


When it comes to the cost of renovating a home, it pays to do your homework. The internet is a great resource for photos of trends, colors and ideas. If you’re working within a tight budget, start looking in your area for off-the-beaten-path fixture and appliance warehouses. But the best resource of all might just be next door. Ask your neighbors for referrals to good contractors and for places unknown to you that sell discounted materials, appliances or fixtures. An organized plan will help minimize work changes that can add up and push back your home renovation deadline.


Lynda Lyday is the author of “Lynda Lyday’s Do It Yourself” and “A Homeowner’s Manual.” She is a Master Carpenter and Contractor learning her trade at The United Brotherhood of Carpenters in New York City. Lyday has appeared in 350 home improvement episodes of shows including Discovery Channel’s Gimme Shelter, HGTV’s The Fix and DIY Network’s Talk2 DIY. Currently, Lyday can be seen on the Home Shopping Network demonstrating products in the Home Solutions Category.

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