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Update: So you’ve decided to go for it and embark on a remodeling project – great! The first thing you need to do is to spend some time working out how much your remodel is going to cost. Even if you’re on the fence about whether you want to carry out your remodel, you’re definitely going to have to sit down with a calculator and do a thorough cost analysis. This is essential to avoiding unexpected costs further down the line so you can get an idea of the true cost of remodeling.

The cost of remodeling can be estimated in several ways. The actual cost of a remodeling project will depend on your location, the type of remodel you are undertaking, your ability to control costs, your level of involvement in the project, and your budget.

First, the estimate can be based on a cost per square foot calculation. This is the most common approach to computing a quick estimate. This approach is easy to understand. It is a matter of assigning a cost per square foot of area to be remodeled. This is then multiplied by the average remodeling cost per square foot. For example, remodeling a 12 x 12 bedroom would 144 square feet (12 x 12) times the cost per square foot, which we will say is $125. You would calculate the cost this way: area x cost per sq. ft. = (12×12) x $125 = 144 x 125 = $18,000. While a low cost of $125 might be appropriate for a bedroom remodel, it would not be an appropriate rate for a kitchen remodel.

A second way to get an estimate of the cost of your remodel is to use the Remodel Estimates Calculator at This approach will give you a more accurate estimate because it factors in the type of room being remodeled, the level of detail and finish, and how the project will be managed.

A third source of estimates is contractors or architects. Their rough estimate will be based on a cost per square foot, but it will use a range of costs for the calculations based on the information you provide.

The primary elements of the cost of a remodel can be organized into several categories. If your project is a small, simple updating, many items on the list will not be applicable. If you are building an addition or undertaking major remodeling, more of these cost elements will be applicable.

  1. Preparation, Planning and Design Costs. These costs will be associated with researching, designing, planning and making preparations for the remodeling project to begin. The extent of demolition required will depend upon the specific project. For a simple remodel, you might not need extensive architectural or other design drawings.
    • Architect, engineer or designer fees
    • Permits
    • Demolition
    • Site Preparation
  2. Construction costs. You can expect to incur both materials costs and labor costs for each of these items. For example, the total cost for framing will be the cost of the lumber, insulation, hardware, etc. (and delivery fees, if applicable) plus the labor cost for constructing the framing and installing the insulation. Some types of work will not be required in every remodeling project. Plumbing, for example, probably will not be a factor in a bedroom or family room remodel; it would be a major factor in a bathroom or kitchen remodel.
    • Foundation work (probably only for an addition)
    • Framing
    • Electrical
    • Plumbing (bathroom, laundry room, kitchen)
    • Roofing
    • Heating and cooling
    • Cable, satellite, internet, telephone lines and jacks
    • Exterior surfaces
    • Interior surfaces
    • Finish flooring
    • Doors and windows
    • Cabinets
    • Fixtures
    • Appliances
    • Finish work (trim, baseboards, painting, etc.)
  3. Project management costs. Managing a remodeling project is basically a matter of coordinating the 101 Ways to Save Money When by by Dan Fritschen different phases of the project, ensuring that the work is done in the correct order, that inspections are obtained as appropriate, and that the right people are doing various kinds of work. You might hire a general contractor to manage all aspects of the project. You could also simply hire appropriate subcontractors and a project manager. Finally, you could manage the project yourself.
    • General contractor
    • Subcontractor(s)
    • Project Manager
    • Inspections
  4. Other costs for the construction. These costs are easily overlooked, yet they are part of almost all remodeling projects. They may not be “significant costs” in the grand scheme of your project, but they will be part of your total project cost.
    • Insurance
    • Losses
    • Repairs
    • Trash Disposal Fees
    • Cleanup
    • Tools and Equipment (do-it-yourselfers)
    • Safety Equipment (do-it-yourselfers)
    • Sealing off the rest of the house
    • Hotel and meals (if you must leave during a large remodeling project)
    • Your first open house party

  5. Hidden Costs. These costs surprise many homeowners during remodeling or home addition projects. These costs can be anticipated and calculated, however. The best news is that some of these costs can often be eliminated or controlled. For example, if your planning is thorough, you will not incur costs for upgrades or late changes.
    • Cost of making late changes
    • Upgrades
    • Impact on taxes
    • Impact on insurance
    • Impact on utility bills
    • Financing costs
    • Decorative enhancements (window treatments, etc.)
    • Unexpected delays or problems
    • Other required upgrades or updates.

If you decide to manage the project yourself, you will probably want to invest in something that will help you keep track of receipts, schedules and questions. The Complete Remodeling Workbook and Organizer is available at