How to Estimate Home Remodel Costs Like A Pro
By Shannon Wells
“We must consult our means rather than our wishes.” ― George Washington
Lots of homeowners daydream about new kitchens and gorgeous master suites. Far fewer dream about the meticulous planning required to turn those dreams into reality. But as any home renovation veteran can tell you, taking the time to accurately estimate your home remodeling costs is the best way to ensure your project runs smoothly. Here’s how to do it.
Identify Your Pain Points
Does your kitchen floorplan make it tough to cook? Are your bathroom’s old fixtures an eyesore? Do you need more storage in your master bedroom? By identifying your precise pain points, you’ll be able to make a realistic and comprehensive project plan. But before you begin estimating your costs, you’ll want to take a look at how it fits into the bigger picture.
Get an Accurate Value of Your Home
Before setting a budget for your project, it helps to determine your baseline. After all, you don’t want to pour more money into your home than you’ll ever be able to recoup. There are a few ways to get an estimate of your home’s value:
– For a quick but scientifically based estimate, check the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s HPI calculator.
– Work with a local real estate professional to help you navigate through comps and get an estimate that takes your local market conditions into account.
– Enlist a professional appraiser to get a home valuation that a lender will trust. Often, lenders will do appraisals on their own, so don’t rush out to hire someone before you start interviewing lenders.
With your home’s value in hand, you’ll be able to determine project milestones, set a budget range that makes sense and research financing options (if needed).
Outline Project Milestones
A good way to get a handle on what your upcoming project may entail is to make a list of the project milestones. For example, if you wanted to update your master bedroom with a walk-in closet, your milestones might include the following:
- Take measurements
- Plan your closet design
- Acquire necessary permits
- Demo and dispose of current closet materials
- Frame out new closet, including doorway
- Run outlets and lighting
- Trim out and install door
- Install drywall
- Install flooring
- Install cabinetry and hanging rods
- Prime and paint
With the basic steps outlined, it’ll be easier to price materials and choose contractors. If you aren’t particularly handy, don’t let this list-making overwhelm you – we’ve got some great tools to help you plan.
Choose Your Materials
Selecting materials can be quite the undertaking, especially if you don’t have a style in mind. Start by looking through interior design websites and inspiration boards to narrow down your options. Then, consider paying a visit to lumber yards, specialized distributors, (i.e., lighting, stone suppliers) and big box stores to price your favorite options. If you’d rather skip the in-person visits, Emprove has streamlined the estimate process by linking material cost data to our inspiration photos.
Even if you plan to hire a contractor for your home remodeling project, we still recommend that you select most of your materials in advance. The more planning you do, the less likely you are to experience cost overruns.
Reach Out to Contractors
Chances are, you’ve heard it’s best to get at least three estimates from qualified contractors before you hire anyone. While it may seem like a lot of work, your efforts will pay off. Getting multiple estimates not only ensures you’re getting a fair deal, it gives you the chance to meet several contractors before hiring one.
Selecting contractors used to be time-consuming, but we’ve made it easier. Emprove connects homeowners with highly rated local contractors that are pre-qualified for their exact project. No searching through online reviews, no cold calls – just accurate estimates from qualified contractors. Once you’ve picked your contractor, all that’s left to do is stay the course.
Stick with Your Plan …
While it may be tempting to add side projects or upgrade a few items here and there, your budget will be the one that suffers. Trust that your original plan was well-thought out and limit overages by staying the course.
But Plan for the Unexpected
The best way to prepare for bumps along the way is to add 20% to your budget for any cost overruns. You’ll be less stressed when things don’t go exactly as planned if you know it won’t derail your project.
Shannon Wells is a freelance writer. When she isn’t helping her clients grow their businesses, she writes about healthy food and home improvement. You can find her on LinkedIn.