Construction Estimating for Dummies


By Dan Fritschen


Cost of Remodel a Ktichen

Kitchen Remodel

Construction Estimating for Dummies, average people and smart people can be easy – and hard.  There are smart ways to do it – and not so smart.


Construction Estimating – the Easy way

The easiest way to estimate construction costs is to use an average cost for a room remodel.  The average cost for a bathroom remodel is $8,000 and for a kitchen it is $20,000.  The only problem is that this does not take into account where you live, your design, the materials you will use or how much work – if any you will do.  You can also use a cost per square foot estimate.  Assume $75 a square foot for unfinished garage upto $400 a square foot for a very nice kitchen or bathroom.  This can help somewhat but still it is hard to know when to use the $125 or $150 a square foot.  The remodel cost calculators here at provide an easy – quick way for estimating the remodeling costs for your project – if it one room or your entire house.  Try it now.


Construction Estimating – the hard way. 

The hard – but accurate- construction estimating process is to decide on your design and materials and who will do the work.  With all those answers you can get quotes from contractors and subcontractors and these will be accurate and probably will vary by 20% or more.  They vary so much because there is not hard-fast- rules for estimating remodeling work.  The contractor determines their estimate based on their overhead, their costs, their view of the competitive situation.  Every contractor has different values for these cost drivers and therefore the estimate you receive from multiple contractors can vary a lot.


Construction Estimating – The Smart and Not so Smart ways. 

The smart ways to estimate remodeling costs is – if you are doing the work yourself – to have a detailed list of every nail, cabinet, and board you need and add up the costs.  If you are hiring someone else to do the work – getting bids from different types of contractors: large and small and who do work in different areas.  The not so smart ways to estimate remodel costs are: only get one bid based on “just a few ideas” and think that will be a good estimate, estimate it on your own with out accounting for every item you will need to purchase, get the lowest cost estimate from a contractor you do not really like or trust and then assume that is a good estimate.  All of these estimates are bound to be wrong for a variety of reasons.


Construction Estimating  - the 4 Big Construction Cost Drivers 



The cost of remodeling a kitchen in Manhattan can be $50,000 while the same kitchen could have been remodeled for $25,000 in Oklahoma.  There is even neighborhood to neighborhood differences in the cost of remodeling a kitchen.  Higher priced neighborhoods often get higher quotes from contractors than lower ones. It is often a good choice to pick a contractor who works in your neighborhood – but also consider quotes from contractors who do good work but who may work mainly in neighborhoods, towns, and cities with lower priced homes.



The next cost driver is the materials you choose. A kitchen faucet can be $35 or $3500 or anywhere in between – it just depends on the materials you choose for your kitchen remodel that determines the cost.  You decide on all these materials so the cost of your kitchen remodel is in your control.  Some materials like cabinets and countertops are not the best places to “buy cheap” but items that are easier to replace – like appliances, faucets and flooring are good places to “buy cheap”, reuse what you already have or find used items that you can use a few years until you are comfortable buying the items you REALLY want but cant afford when you initially remodel.



The design makes a big difference as well.  If you are moving the pipes and electrical outlets that costs a lot more than if you leave them where they are.  Finally who does the work.  Are you hiring an interior designer, architect and general contractor to remodel your kitchen or are you doing all the work – your choices make a big difference in the cost to remodel your kitchen.



Get an Instant Home Remodeling Cost Estimate


If you want a better estimate of the cost of remodeling a kitchen for a specific project try the kitchen remodeling cost calculator at   In addition to these calculators provides:

  • Thousands and thousands of photos of remodeled kitchens to search, save and share
  • Check list to start your kitchen remodel project successfully
  • Answers to your kitchen remodeling questions


There are many ways to get an estimate for the cost to remodel a kitchen using a cost calculator and there are many ways to create a budget before and after the designs are complete.



How to Get a Cost of Remodeling a kitchen estimate



For an initial budget for your kitchen remodel you can use industry cost averages – like $25,000 for a kitchen remodel but no one lives in an average house in an average city! Another common method is to create a home remodeling cost estimate using a cost per square foot method. This is very popular and effective for builders since they have developed a dollar per square foot that reflects their business model and costs. Unfortunately dollar per square foot estimates need to be adjusted based on what is in that square foot! If it is the garage or a kitchen the cost can vary from $50 to $500 and more. So estimating this way works best for the pros.


How the Home Remodeling Cost Calculators Work



kitchan and bathroom remodeling

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The  home remodeling cost calculator combines both methods to provide an estimate. The calculators use your location to estimate labor costs, your preferences for types of materials and fixtures as well as how much work you would like to do. Choosing economy, average or expensive materials for your remodel has a big impact on the overall costs for the kitchen and bathroom renovations and additions. The cost of materials has less of an impact on rooms like garage and bedroom additions.




The labor costs include both the fees and markups added by general contractors as well as the labor of the tradespeople who do the framing. Flooring, tile, drywall, etc. All of this work can be done by a homeowner. If you choose to do some of the work yourself, make sure you do a lot of practice before taking on the task for you home. What looks easy on a youtube video invariably has a lot of tricks and techniques that aren’t obvious; especially with plumbing!


Sample results from the bathroom cost calculator


After careful review of your Kitchen Remodeling project where you Hire a contractor, do None of the work yourself and use Average cost materials, we estimate the cost will be between $20,500 and $22,100. We also estimate the payback (the amount your home will appreciate by doing the remodel) will be $8000.
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Get your instant Remodeling Cost Estimate


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Payback from Home Remodeling Projects – reduce costs!


When calculating the cost of your home remodeling project be sure to consider the net when using a remodeling cost estimator. This is the cost of your remodel minus what your home will appreciate due to the remodeling work. The calculator provides an estimate of this payback as well. This is estimated by the value of your home, the cost of your remodel and the typical payback for that type of project. Remember, the amount your home will appreciate – the payback – for your remodel is determined only at the time of sale and by a buyer. If you have any questions talk with an experienced real estate agent who is familiar with the prices of homes in your neighborhood.


Along with getting a bathroom remodeling calculator estimate, dreaming of what it will look like is a favorite first step for homeowners. Try our IdeaFile to search millions of kitchen, bathroom and home pictures and save and share what you find. Click here.


10 tips to start your Home Remodel right!


  • Determine your budget using a home remodeling cost estimator
  • Search, save, and share design ideas using the IdeaFile
  • Hire an interior designer to review your needs and your homes current condition and get their advice and design ideas
  • Update design and budget as necessary
  • If your hiring a general contractor begin interviewing – interview at least 5
  • If you DIY, check with the local government to see if a permit is required.
  • After talking with contractors – write out a detailed specification for your project.
  • If you DIY, begin looking for tradespeople and sub-contrators to do the work you won’t do.
  • Review quotes and do background and reference check on contractors and create a contract
  • Sign contract and begin work!

Whether you’ve already decided on home remodeling or you’re still just exploring your options More

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